It will function as a new public health app as the nation had moved into normalcy and was aiming to transition into digital health
by NURUL SUHAIDI / pic MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE use of the MySejahtera application, earlier a must-use app nationwide to contain the spread of Covid-19 through the check-in feature, has decreased following the country’s transition into endemic.
The decline became more pronounced once most of the Covid-19 health procedures and restrictions were dropped.
The app was initially reported to have been developed without a contract by a private company called KPISoft Sdn Bhd (now known as Entomo Malaysia) through a corporate social responsibility (CSR) arrangement.
The deal began on March 27, 2020, and ended on March 31, 2021, on a CSR basis and no payment was required from the government for one year.
The app has sparked concern among the general public regarding the developer’s relationship with the government, raising questions surrounding the ownership of MySejahtera and KPISoft.
“The relationship between the app developer and the government is unclear. It’s suspicious that the contract was awarded through direct negotiations and not an open tender,” said EMIR Research president/CEO Dr Rais Hussin.
He added that the sequence of events surrounding MySejahtera deals appears to be a form of a “CSR trap”, which could be a prelude to a lucrative contract without competition.
However, in rejecting the allegation, Health Minister Khairy Jamaludin stressed that there was no clear contract between KPISoft and the government before he was appointed minister.
“When I took over, I told them that we needed to regularise this service because they couldn’t do it under CSR forever, and suddenly they would ask for payments and whatnot.
“Hence, I’ve brought the issue to the Cabinet and stated the need for a contract signed between the government and the platform’s operator. That’s how the negotiations began between us and KPISoft,” Khairy said in previous explanations.
He said during the negotiations, the government also expressed concerns about the data being used for commercial purposes.
During the mandatory public check-in period required by the government, the app would collect data from more than 38 million registered users, representing the majority of the nation’s population.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) suggested in December 2021 that the government take over the management of MySejahtera at no additional expense due to the app’s growing importance in the country’s healthcare system.
Among others, the app is a minefield when it comes to transparency. There are said to be loopholes allowing personal data breaches, with allegations that users’ data have been compromised. Then, there is the perception of poor governance.
On the application development, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently concluded a report clarifying that the appointment of MySejahtera developers does not follow the procedure set by Putrajaya. It said there were no minutes of meetings or supporting documents on the appointment of KPISoft or Entomo.
“The only document in existence is a non-disclosure agreement signed by the National Security Council (NSC), on behalf of the government, and KPISoft,” PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh said in a statement on Oct 4.
Wong added that the CSR idea, to begin with, was instead perceived as a way to secure a government project without going through the required procurement process.
However, the parliamentary committee also noted that the Finance Ministry had set a ceiling price of RM196 million for the acquisition of MySejahtera for two years (RM98 million per year).
“This amount was high and contradicted the concept of CSR,” Wong said.
He later suggested that the government review the propriety of awarding the MySejahtera application contract via direct negotiations made through a Cabinet decision dated Nov 27, 2021.
On top of that, PAC has also called the government to declare that the security of users and their data in the application is preserved and to guarantee that the data is not misused by anyone.
Health Ministry (MoH) DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a tweet said that MySejahtera, which started as a simple Covid-19 app, has now evolved to be a powerful digital app for the public with endless possibilities.
“The app now includes communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases application, creating awareness, trace and track, national immunisation programme, appointment and record system in blood and organ donations, etc,” he tweeted recently.
Supporting PAC suggestions, Khairy later announced that MySejahtera will function as a new public health app as the nation had moved into normalcy and was aiming to transition into digital health.
Following that, the latest health version of MySejahtera now has been equipped with various new features such as health screening appointments, seeking medical treatment and advice, blood and organ donor platform.
Clarifying the app status, Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Harjeet Singh said recently that all related parties have agreed to the government ownership of the app, and an official agreement will be signed in the near future. He also announced that the process to register intellectual property started in March 2022.
“The MyIPO copyright certificate for MySejahtera has been obtained on Aug 2, 2022. The placement of MySejahtera under the new section will make the management of the application more organised,” he added in a statement on Oct 4.
Since the regulation of MySejahtera was transferred to MoH on Nov 26, 2021, several things have been implemented to navigate the direction of the application.
Harjeet said moving forward, various new features related to public health will also continue to be introduced by MySejahtera, in line with the recommendations from PAC.
In terms of security, Khairy told a recent press conference that when MySejahtera is transferred to the MoH from NSC, it would ensure the issues of data ownership and security are resolved and that MySejahtera could be used as a public health platform.
- This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition