EMIR Research: Clarify ‘held at gunpoint’ MySejahtera deal once and for all

IN the wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases in China with the unveiling of two new strains/variants (BA.5.2 and BF.7) which are already detected in Malaysia – a development which may make MySejahtera relevant again in the event of an outbreak – a think tank has urged the authorities to swiftly resolve all existing controversies and potential scandals surrounding the app.

Moreover, it has been reported that the app would be expanded with an appointment-making system at public primary healthcare facilities.

With the expansion of the app, the first question is whether the government has signed a contract for the app’s procurement or not, according to EMIR Research.

“If yes, what are the terms, especially on costs, ownership, and parties involved? If not, under what deal is this module expansion happening and who is developing it?” asked founder/CEO Dr Rais Hussin and senior analyst Ameen Kamal in the think tank’s latest research piece.

Dr Rais Hussin

This comes after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recommended the government take ownership of MySejahtera in October 2022 which “could be mainly driven by the fact that the ownership of MySejahtera appears to be split between MySJ Sdn Bhd, the government, and KPISoft (now known as Entomo Malaysia).

Branding the app as overpriced given that PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh had reportedly said that a ceiling price worth a whopping RM196 mil has been set by the Finance Ministry to procure MySejahtera over two years, EMIR Research said its sources indicate that the total development cost could be around RM8-RM12 mil.

“New Zealand’s initial contact tracing app design proposal was reportedly developed by a Malaysian-born technocrat in within two weeks and the inventor charged no royalties for it,” the think tank pointed out.

“Is there a high-value novelty in the MySejahtera app that only KPISoft/Entomo could deliver? If the government is paying well above market price despite this information, is it because there is something that either Entomo and/or MySJ is holding, owning, or having knowledge of that gives them stronger negotiating power against the government?” asked EMIR Research.

It went on to claim that the direct and obscure appointment of KPISoft/Entomo in a contract-less corporate social responsibility (CSR) deal with only a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to govern data ownership “is the catalytic domino piece that led to subsequent commercial, technical, and legal ‘traps’”.

Held at gunpoint

“Without a contractual obligation, nothing stopped Entomo Malaysia from entering a commercial agreement with MySJ during the supposed CSR period,” lamented EMIR Research.

“No doubt the government could use the COVID-19 pandemic to justify urgency, but that doesn’t explain the lack of contracts or the opting for a CSR deal.”

In EMIR Research’s view, someone or a group of people had overlooked – deliberately or accidentally – simple governance and due-diligence procedures “or they were ‘conned’ with a bad deal”.

“The issues raised warrant further probing and EMIR Research did recommend that an independent commission be formed for the investigation,” noted the research house.

“Was there any investigation on the companies and individuals involved? What actions can be taken regarding the breached governance process? What are the considerations of the PAC to make its recommendation?”

Whatever it may be, the government appears to be held at gunpoint and finds total acquisition as the only option, according to EMIR Research.

“While these questions remain unanswered, the expansion of new modules to bring back relevance to the app should be stopped until the necessary investigations are satisfactorily completed and presented to the public,” suggested the think tank.

“In line with (Prime Minister) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s brand of administration that is reformed, the MySejahtera debacle must be investigated fully and thoroughly with transparent explanations provided by the authorities on all the questions raised, better deals are formulated and those in the wrong are held accountable.” – Jan 3, 2023

Main pic credit: The Star

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE