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KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 – Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin refuses to drop the scandal-tainted MySejahtera app, saying that it would still be useful post-pandemic for electronic health.
He told Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, whose publisher has called for MySejahtera’s cancellation, that the mobile Covid-19 app is currently being used to monitor the condition of positive Covid-19 cases under home quarantine.
“If we don’t have MySejahtera, how can we monitor the condition of those under self-isolation at home? Maybe Utusan Malaysia has an app that we can use, I don’t know,” Khairy told Utusan Malaysia in comments published today, after the newspaper headlined its frontpage last Wednesday: Nyahaktif MySejahtera (Cancel MySejahtera).
Utusan Malaysia’s front page story quoted health experts as saying that MySejahtera should be dumped because the app was no longer used for contact tracing after the country’s transition to endemicity.
In a commentary last Monday, Mohamad Azlan Jaafar, managing director and group editor of Media Mulia Sdn Bhd that publishes Utusan, also called for MySejahtera to be “tossed into the trash bin and to be deleted from our lives forever”.
He pointed out that the app – which is being directly awarded to a private company, MySJ Sdn Bhd – contains very valuable data of 38 million users with about 80 million daily check-ins to public premises.
“The app’s intellectual property owner knows the value of the app and will not budge or sell it at clothing store bundle prices. We don’t need an app that knows every time we leave our house.”
Khairy acknowledged that the Omicron wave has subsided, but told Utusan Malaysia that MySejahtera isn’t only used for QR code scans to register visits to public premises, but also to self-report Covid-19 test results.
The health minister did not say if check-in mandates would be lifted. Mandatory quarantine and testing for all close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases, including symptomatic close contacts and irrespective of vaccination status, was lifted effective today.
He said during the transition to endemicity, the Ministry of Health (MOH) primarily relies on self-testing reported through MySejahtera for Covid-19 diagnosis to reduce dependence on RT-PCR tests, amounting to more than 20,000 daily self-test reports with the app.
The health minister also said the 15 modules in the MySejahtera app that were developed over the past two years would still be useful in the future when the country adopts digital health.
“Among the modules are statistics, vaccination, quarantine, travel, booking system, surveillance, dependent management, and check-ins.”
Khairy did not specify if people would be mandated in future to use MySejahtera to store their electronic health records.
On public concerns that one’s personal information on MySejahtera could be misused for commercial purposes, Khairy said the data can only be accessed for use of the app and supporting apps related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He also said MOH can monitor the log-ins of whichever party that accesses the MySejahtera database from a server in Kuala Lumpur, and that the government has been given the power to take court action for any misuse.
Khairy did not specify which law authorises the government to take action over misuse of MySejahtera data. The federal and state governments are exempted from the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA).
MySejahtera has been embroiled in controversy over the past month, after Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) revealed that the national security app was developed by KPISoft Malaysia Sdn Bhd without a contract with the government, and that the Cabinet approved direct negotiations to another company, MySJ, over MySejahtera.
Yesterday, PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh told reporters that – after two weeks of proceedings with Khairy, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, and top officials from the National Security Council (MKN), the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA), and the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) – the government itself was “confused” about who actually appointed KPISoft to develop MySejahtera.
He also confirmed that there was never a contract in place or even a letter of appointment for KPISoft over MySejahtera that was initially developed free by the company for the government in a one-year corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative that ended March 31, 2021.
Opposition politicians and the public have expressed concern about data privacy on the ubiquitous app, after two ongoing lawsuits filed by MySJ shareholders revealed that KPISoft Malaysia (now Entomo Malaysia, fully owned by Singapore-based Entomo Pte Ltd) sold MySejahtera’s intellectual property and software licence to MySJ for RM338.6 million.
Although the government claims ownership over the huge MySejahtera database, MySJ CEO designate Aiza Azreen Ahmad’s public Facebook posts and tweets indicate MySJ’s access to the database via MySejahtera user support, and potentially the company’s ability to change records on the MySejahtera database – even though MOH has yet to sign a formal agreement with MySJ for the app.
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