Free market will ensure more ride-hailing options

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS), for an agency tasked with ensuring that consumers are protected from the evil tendencies of monopolistic business practices, has once again demonstrated that it is incapable of delivering on its chief mandate.

With the intense competition between Uber and Grab over the past few years, everybody knew it was a zero-sum game and a war of attrition.

And, in such a battle, there can be only one survivor.

But now that Grab is the largest player in the market, does it also mean that consumers and drivers are left without a choice but to submit to the whims and wants of Grab?

More likely than not, the reality is that the free market will self-regulate and there will always be another alternative to Grab.

Already, there has been a new entrant into the same market (Ryde), and there is talk that Indonesia's GoJek is looking to enter Singapore as well (Ryde hopes to fill void left by Uber's exit, March 29; S-E Asian rivals to face off as Uber exits region, April 2).

Grab is far from being the only solution to all our transportation problems, and therein lies the reason why other players will always seek to do better and carve out their own slice of the pie.

As long as there is a healthy ecosystem for start-ups and new ideas, there is nothing to worry about.

That is why I think the statement from CCS is really a case of putting the cart before the horse.

In fact, the strong words in the CCS statement only serve to fan the flames of public fear. Some would even call it fear mongering.

Mok Shi Heng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2018, with the headline 'Free market will ensure more ride-hailing options'. Print Edition | Subscribe