KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — People who book quarantine hotel rooms through MyEG Services Berhad have been charged RM15 per booking since yesterday, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik told Parliament.
The former deputy minister of tourism, arts, and culture (MOTAC) under the Pakatan Harapan administration said that MyEG, Malaysia’s digital government services provider, initially wanted to impose a 15 per cent tax on the total accommodation cost, before switching to RM15 per booking for quarantine hotels.
“I found that MyEG had been given a task for those who need to be quarantined that they have to make bookings through MyEG. Is this true?” Muhammad Bakhtiar said at the Dewan Rakyat.
“For me, this is a monopoly because hotels have their own booking engines. At first, I was told that they want to impose 15 per cent from the total accommodation. Now, they have changed to RM15 yesterday,” the PKR lawmaker added during his debate on MOTACs 2021 budget at the committee stage today.
“I feel like this is a daylight robbery because before this, it has been announced by the Minister of Finance that the tourism tax has been postponed, but now RM15 is imposed.”
The Balik Pulau MP from Penang said he hoped that MyEG does not monopolise the hotel booking system, as people can just directly book rooms for quarantine from the hotel itself for free.
According to Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri, the registration for quarantine centres is under the purview of the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) and not MOTAC. NADMA is a government agency under the Prime Minister’s Department.
However, she said that she will bring up this issue to the minister responsible.
On the NADMA website, people travelling into Malaysia who want to book quarantine hotels can use the MySafeTravel function by MyEG. Through this government service provider, individuals can pick their own quarantine accommodation and bespoke amenities accordingly. However, the price per booking is not mentioned on the main page.
Travellers from abroad are required to self-isolate at designated quarantine centres, including hotels, for 14 days upon entering Malaysia, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Malaysian citizens are charged 50 per cent of the hotel’s maximum rate of RM150 per person per day, totalling RM1,050 for 14 days’ stay.
MyEG is the same company that signed a three-year exclusive Covid-19 vaccine distribution deal with a China-based pharmaceutical company, Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Co Ltd, in conducting a Phase Three clinical trial in Malaysia for its experimental coronavirus vaccine.
After the public listed company announced its deal with Zhifei, MyEG shares jumped by 13.26 per cent, the highest level since May 2018.
Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin clarified in Parliament yesterday that the government’s only Covid-19 vaccine agreements are with US pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc and the global COVAX Facility co-led by the World Health Organization, both of which were direct procurements without the use of any middlemen.
Any distribution of government-procured Covid-19 vaccines, he said, would only be given to companies that have the capacity to maintain the stability of the vaccines. Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine requires a storage temperature of minus 70 degrees’ Celsius, well beyond the capacity of local pharmaceutical distributors.