Grab’s attempt to win a powerful new board member almost backfired.
The ride-hailing startup competing with Uber in Southeast Asia in late January introduced Indonesia’s former top cop Badrodin Haiti as head of the board of its Indonesian branch.
Haiti, who was the national police chief before retiring last year, was supposed to carry the title of president commissioner of Grab Indonesia. That’s a role similar to what’s known as the chairman of the board elsewhere.
However, roughly two weeks after Grab made the announcement, Haiti told media that he wouldn’t be taking on the role after all.
According to reports, Haiti said there would be an ethical conflict, as he also sits on the board of state-owned company Waskita Karya.
Grab and Haiti today released a joint statement, confirming that the former cop’s position at a state-owned enterprise means he cannot be president commissioner of another company.
Despite the misunderstanding, the parties seem to have found a compromise.
“Mr. Badrodin Haiti is personally keen to continue supporting Grab Indonesia to thrive and develop in Indonesia. Mr. Badrodin Haiti will now take on the role of senior advisor to Grab Indonesia,” the statement said.
“He will […] continue in an advisory role and provide counsel on regulations and road traffic management,” a Grab spokesperson further clarified Haiti’s new position.
That’s similar to what was expected of him as president commissioner.
Haiti’s guidance will help the company adhere to prevailing laws and regulations even as it grows, Ridzki Kramadibrata, managing director of Grab Indonesia, said in January at the time of the first announcement.
While Indonesia’s ministry of transportation has accepted ride-hailing and devised a legal framework for how companies in this space are allowed to operate, some issues remain.
Achieving compliance with the rules requires obtaining licenses and conducting vehicle checkups – a slow process that’s costing companies like Grab and Uber money and patience.
A leniency period, during which non-compliant cars would be tolerated, was initially set to end in October 2016 but was extended for another six months because too many cars were still waiting to be processed.
There are also disputes between local transportation providers and ride-hailing startups, especially in regions further away from the central government in Jakarta. In Bali, for example, local independent drivers living in certain neighborhoods told Tech in Asia that they’ve put up large anti-Uber or anti-Grab signs at the side of the road to prevent these firms from picking up passengers in their territories.
To solve these and other issues, Grab needs high-profile people pulling strings on its behalf. Its moves remind us of how Uber built its advisory board of international power brokers.
Grab, headquartered in Singapore, began adding stars to its rank-and-file last year.
It appointed Ming Maa, an executive at its main investor, Japan’s SoftBank, as president of the regional operation to “drive corporate development activities, including strategic partnerships and investment opportunities.”
Badrodin Haiti has been with the Indonesian police force for 35 years. Before getting the national police chief title, he also served as head of police in several provinces, like Central Sulawesi and East Java. According to Ridzki, Haiti was also directly involved with managing and developing regulations on road traffic management.
(Update: This article was first updated on February 18, after Badrodin Haiti’s resignation from the board and again on February 21, after Grab and Haiti issued a joint statement to announce he would become senior advisor instead.)
This post Grab and Indonesia’s ex-top cop reach a compromise (UPDATED) appeared first on Tech in Asia.
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