Report Reveals Government Offered To Pay CovidNow Creators

Khairy Jamaluddin says the CovidNow website developers refused payment from the government because they wanted to do it “for the country”.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — The government had offered payment to the developers of the Health Ministry’s CovidNow website, but they refused it in an act of public service.

Malaysians previously criticised the government for not paying Henry Lim, Lim Sheng Han, Roshen Magghan, and Calum Lim for their work in creating CovidNow, a dashboard that tracks the country’s Covid-19 epidemic and coronavirus vaccination.

“We offered. We offered, Tuan Pengerusi, but they do not want to take. It is not that we did not offer. We offered. We offered to pay. They say, ‘No, we do it for the country’,” Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told the health, science and innovation parliament special select committee in a meeting on September 14.

“But I do not want to say in public that we offered and all that lah. So, it is okay, we take the hit for that.”

Transcripts of the September 14 meeting were revealed in the parliament committee’s “Transitioning from Pandemic to Endemic Covid-19 Safely and Sustainably” report that was tabled in Parliament Monday.

Khairy also told parliament committee chairman Dr Kelvin Yii that Dr Mahesh Appannan, head of data at the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC), was appointed to release accurate communication of the CovidNow website, amid misinterpretation of raw data from MOH’s GitHub database like vaccine breakthrough deaths.

“Transparency is good but of course, people do not know what to do with these data. So, they are interpreting it in many different ways. So, what I have asked is to beef up our data team. Not to just dump the data but to also interpret and provide insights lah. That is it.”

Henry Lim, who is behind the @MYVaccineCount Twitter account, previously said his team had created CovidNow voluntarily.

“We didn’t want to be paid for this, & we’re delighted that MoH recognised us on the official site,” he tweeted last September 9.

The CovidNow developers said in an October 5 media briefing that they wanted to help MOH provide open data through visuals on key Covid-19 indicators.

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