Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Raza pledged to phase out the current practice of awarding taxi licences to companies last Sunday, in a move to woo the country's 70,000-strong contingent of taxi drivers.
The prime minister promised a "new model" for all taxi drivers, saying the government will award individual licences to them instead, reported liberal news portal Malaysian Insider.
"In one or two years' time, we are moving to introduce a new taxi model (system). We are in the midst of framing it.
"I don't like it when I hear that companies get too many taxi licences. The era where we give taxi licences to individual companies will end," said Mr Najib to cheers from a 10,000-strong audience mainly comprising of taxi drivers.
The prime minister made the announcement at the 1Malaysia People's Taxi gathering at National Stadium Bukit Jalil.
He said that the government will provide individuals with a new system and the interests of the individual taxi driver will be taken care of as best as possible.
"The leasing of taxis is a form of modern-day slavery, which I do not like," said the Barisan Nasional chief.
The 1 Malaysia Development Board has pumped in RM35 million (S$14 million) towards this initiative, which will benefit the taxi-drivers, reported the New Straits Times.
Taxi drivers will receive vouchers for two pairs of new tyres worth RM520, which are redeemable at more than 300 Goodyear and Continental service centres.
The Information, Communications and Culture Ministry will provide a RM1 million insurance fund for all taxi drivers throughout Malaysia.
This article was first published in The New Paper.