File photo of ride-hailing Grab car. — Picture by Grab via TODAY
File photo of ride-hailing Grab car. — Picture by Grab via TODAY

KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — E-hailing operator Grab Malaysia has achieved the lowest score while rare earth refiner Lynas (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and national carrier Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAS) topped the list of nine companies for their effectiveness in handling crisis, according to a study yesterday.

According to the research by communications agency Citrine One Sdn Bhd on Malaysia-based companies that faced widely publicised crises from March last year to March,2019, Grab Malaysia scored 2 points out of a maximum of 36 points.

The study cited the e-hailing company’s slow response time and inability to solve passenger and driver safety issues following robbery and sexual assault allegations during transit.

“It is quite surprising that a people centric company like Grab can score so low on crisis communications. It is a vulnerable industry and the global market of ride sharing has given enough case studies for Grab to have a crisis handbook.

The delay in response time and lack of solution is deemed unacceptable in crisis management, especially when it involves safety of its drivers or passengers,” the research firm’s managing partner, Sharves Bala said.

Media Prima Berhad was the next lowest scorer with three points as the company’s lack of media and public communications regarding the November, 2018 ransomware attack on its internal systems was a cause of concern for its stakeholders, Sharves noted.

However, he acknowledged that the lack of communication from Media Prima might have been due to sensitive legal issues and the need to track down the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, Lynas and MAS topped the list by scoring 26 points each, with the study commending the former’s efficient responses to health and environmental-related queries.

“From a communications point of view, we applaud Lynas’ consistent communication and response to issues raised by all levels of stakeholders from the government, non-governmental organisations and public especially on the health and environmental concerns raised,” Sharves said.

Lynas was in the eye of the media for calls to halt its operations and licence renewal but the organisation effectively neutralised and engaged with the relevant stakeholders in managing the issue with official press statements and responded to questions by the media offering the public a full picture of their operations in Malaysia, the study revealed.

As for MAS, the research showed that the national airlines issued press statements and organised interviews with the media to communicate its current state of affairs and plans to recover its tarnished financial standing.

The research explained that MAS’ quick-paced reaction can be due to its stature as a national carrier, and also to maintain the morale of its large staff and keep its share price steady.

AirAsia Berhad scored 24 points, with the low-cost carrier lauded for its management of a baggage handling issue.

AirAsia had supposedly adopted a defensive stance first before reverting to engaging its customers with a creative campaign, helpful baggage handlers on ground to lighten the issue, as well as fast online and offline responses to queries.    

On March 22 last year, English daily the New Straits Times reported that AirAsia chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes had issued an apology following a video upload that showed the carrier’s staff throwing passengers’ luggage.  

The other companies featured in the research were property developer One City Development Sdn Bhd, public transportation operator Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd (RapidKL), telecommunications provider Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) along with tourism, leisure and entertainment group Genting Malaysia Berhad.

To show a company’s level of transparency and efficiency in managing a particular crisis, the research had given scores based on the company’s reaction time, the strategy undertaken and the outcome of its actions.