“MySejahtera, the Latest Smartphone Device for Covid-19 Touch Tracing”

Putrajaya was accused by a coalition of Bumiputera Information and Communications Technology (ICT) firms of sidelining them, supposedly preferring Western-based businesses rather than local ones.

In a press release yesterday, the Malaysian Association of Bumiputera ICT Industry and Entrepreneurs (NEF) gave the example of MySejahtera, the official Covid-19 touch tracing mobile app established by KPISoft Inc, headquartered in the United States, in place of a local corporation.

The Houston, Texas-based business on its website says it specializes in “working with businesses to implement new technology to use advanced data, artificial intelligence to behavior.”

KPISoft also mentioned the MySejahtera app as one of its success stories, saying that it allows the Malaysian government to control the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak by digitating touch monitoring and allowing timely advice and measures. Globally, KPISoft has three major branches, the closest of which is situated in Singapore.

NEF also provided a couple other examples when mentioning that there are Malaysian companies and even students with very strong track records in designing software apps, but were not chosen or welcomed to support the government build its own technologies from the get-go.

Chairman of the party Khairil Iszuddin Ismail provided another indication of suspected favoritism concerning the Ministry of Education. The ministry recently unveiled the website of the DELIMa (Malaysia Digital Education Learning Initiative), where local approaches and interactive resources were not placed forward.

Another illustration he provided was the creation of the MyFutureJobs website in Perkeso utilizing Dutch technologies. Khairil found out that it is unfair for international companies with enormous resources benefiting from government and public funding when local businesses fail to live with minimal resources but have the capabilities to produce comparable goods.

Local businesses have shown their expertise in civic programs. Several of them include the CoronaTracker that was created by crowdsourcing and local volunteers who earned no remuneration at all. The head of the association then reported that there are locals willing to put in international rivals and destroy local companies while being supported by policy or political links.

He argued that it was Putrajaya’s responsibility to protect local enterprises and grow the own ICT firms in Malaysia, and to make a few recommendations and demands to the government.

Many of their demands included: implementing a more rigorous due diligence procedure where preference is provided to local companies; collaboration with local businesses first at the earliest stages in the construction / development of goods, and options for the public instead of simply being a afterthought.

It also recommended an official policy to support local businesses on ICT-based growth during the procurement process; and draft an official policy encouraging open source, as this can help develop local ICT talent.

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