Citing ‘Public Interest’, Court Allows MySejahtera Shareholder Dispute’s Press Coverage

The High Court overruled objections from MySJ, Entomo Malaysia, and Revolusi Asia to the media covering yesterday’s chamber matter that their lawyers described as “private” matters between shareholders.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 – Despite objections from three companies, including MySJ Sdn Bhd, High Court judge Ahmad Fairuz Zainol Abidin yesterday permitted, on the basis of public interest, media coverage of a proceeding related to their deal over MySejahtera.

At the start of the court hearing on P2 Asset Management Sdn Bhd v Entomo Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Revolusi Asia Sdn Bhd, and MySJ held virtually yesterday, counsels of the private companies inquired from the judge about media presence, which they appeared to have no knowledge of.

Justice Ahmad Fairuz said the court received several requests by media outlets to cover the proceeding, which he then granted due to “public interest” in the matter.

“Well, they did apply to court and I did allow and given the public interest in this matter, I thought it would be only right that they be allowed to follow,” Justice Ahmad Fairuz said.

Present during the proceeding were journalists from Bernama, CodeBlue, The Edge, The New Straits Times, and The Vibes.

Ashok Kandiah, the defence counsel for Entomo Malaysia (formerly KPISoft Malaysia Sdn Bhd) and Revolusi Asia, expressed reservation of the media’s presence, saying that yesterday’s proceedings were just a chamber matter involving applications to set aside amendments.

“I mean, if it’s a trial, of course, there will be no basis for objection. And like I said earlier, if we were, before my Lord, in chambers, then it would be proceedings only between my Lord and parties to the proceedings,” Ashok said.

MySJ counsel Razlan Hadri shared similar views as Ashok, saying: “We are extremely uncomfortable (with) the fact that the press is here”.

“Essentially, my Lord, the public interest, in respect to MySejahtera and the app, is on issues such as privacy, abuse of the app, potentially, and so on and so forth.

“My Lord will know by looking at the cause papers, the issues that is actually flashed out before my Lord today, apart from the technical issues today, which is the amendment, is relating to shareholders’ dispute pertaining to their shareholding, and whether there’s an agreement to sell or not to sell so on and so forth.

“With the greatest source of respect, these are actually rather private matters between us shareholders. I do not see how the public interest will be advanced by shareholder disputes being aired to the entire world, my Lord, so that’s my position on this one,” Razlan said.

Justice Ahmad Fairuz then asked Razlan if he was suggesting that proceedings on the shareholders’ dispute should be held in private, even if it were to go to trial.

“No, my Lord, of course not, because in trial, there’ll be entirely different things altogether. But really, at the end of the day, at this juncture, particularly when the issues are purely relating to amendment procedure, I don’t see, again, why the press needs to cover this.

“I mean, it’s up to the press, of course, whatever they want to cover, but really to be inside chamber matter, I’ve rarely seen this happen, to be fair, my Lord,” Razlan said.

Justice Ahmad Fairuz then asked the counsels how the press obtained access to all information relating to the case beforehand. Razlan said, “I do not know, my Lord.”

Ashok then said: “If I may, I mean, what has been appearing in the press thus far appears to be from the PDs (practice directions). As to whether third parties are feeding the press with information, that’s also a matter that is not known to us.

“But for the purposes of these proceedings, I don’t know whether it would be good precedent, in fact, for the press to be in chambers or to be allowed into all chamber matters merely because parties to the proceedings may have some indirect public interest element.”

Practice directions refer to procedures to be followed in certain matters in court.

Justice Ahmad Fairuz then clarified saying that he has allowed for media to be present in chamber matters, but the situations involved parties “who were not objecting”. The judge then proceeded to ask views from Nagarajah Muttiah, the counsel for P2 Asset Management, the plaintiff.

“My Lord, we have no purview on this issue, and whether it is in chambers or in open court, I mean, your Lordship has got the jurisdiction to have the matter heard in open court even if it is a chamber matter. But that’s absolutely at your Lordship’s discretion.

“So, we have no issue with media presence, but we will leave it to your Lordship to make the decision,” Nagarajah said.

Justice Ahmad Fairuz then proceeded to give his verdict in favour of the media’s presence.

“Now, consistent with this court’s approach, in situations where there have been chamber matters in the past, I have allowed the press to be in. I, therefore, hold that they are entitled to be in, in these proceedings as well, yeah.

“And although, I do recognise that this is a chamber matter, but for transparency, if at all, I’m allowing the application to go on with the presence [sic] of the press,” Justice Ahmad Fairuz said.

The court proceeding yesterday involved submissions from the counsels based on P2 Asset Management’s amended statement of claim.

Entomo Malaysia and Revolusi Asia had previously asked the court to dismiss P2 Asset Management’s claim, with Entomo Malaysia also filing to strike out P2 Asset Management’s January 22 amended statement of claim.

In a written submission filed last January 24, MySJ sought to strike out the plaintiff’s action against it on the basis that P2 Asset Management initiated the lawsuit due to the alleged breaches of a share sale agreement by the first two respondents – Entomo Malaysia and Revolusi Asia – and that MySJ was merely the subject matter of the transaction.

Justice Ahmad Fairuz will deliver his verdict in two weeks on April 15 via email.

CodeBlue previously reported that Entomo Malaysia transferred MySejahtera’s intellectual property rights to MySJ and granted MySJ a software licence to the Covid-19 app for RM338.6 million in a deal until end 2025, according to an October 2020 licence agreement between both companies. However, the terms of the agreement state that Entomo Malaysia retains ownership of its proprietary software that was used to develop the MySejahtera app.

P2 Asset Management, a MySJ shareholder, is suing Entomo Malaysia, Revolusi Asia (another MySJ shareholder), and MySJ for alleged breach of a share sale agreement that was signed between Revolusi Asia and P2 Asset Management on December 31, 2020. Revolusi Asia terminated its deal with P2 Asset Management on September 7, 2021.

The board of directors on MySJ – which was incorporated in September 2020 – include EcoWorld Malaysia executive chairman Liew Kee Sin and executive director and chief financial officer Heah Kok Boon, former Sapura Energy Bhd CEO Shahril Shamsuddin, senior Bersatu politician Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas, as well as Anuar Rozhan and Raveenderen Ramamoothie. The latter two had founded KPISoft.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday asserted in the Dewan Negara that the Malaysian government owns the MySejahtera app’s intellectual property rights, modules, and source code, and personal data collected from usage of the Covid-19 app.

The only legal document he cited was a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) signed between the National Security Council (NSC) and KPISoft Malaysia on April 1, 2020, that states “the government has full and absolute ownership of all data and information obtained through the usage of the MySejahtera app”.

He did not cite any legal basis for the government’s ownership claim over the IP rights and source code of the MySejahtera app developed by KPISoft Malaysia, save for a description of MySejahtera in Apple Store and Google Play that states the app is by the Malaysian government. Neither Entomo Malaysia nor MySJ have issued public statements since the MySejahtera controversy broke last weekend.

You may also like