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For fear of data security, many holding back on details sent to PADU

It raises the question of data accuracy in the distribution of subsidies based on PADU.

3 minute read
PADU, launched by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in January this year, has been widely criticised by both government and opposition leaders. Photo: Facebook
PADU, launched by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in January this year, has been widely criticised by both government and opposition leaders. Photo: Facebook

With a credibility crisis surrounding the government's data hub PADU, question arises whether the more than 10.6 million who are said to have registered so far have updated their personal information accurately and sincerely.

Many individuals have come forward admitting they did not provide accurate information despite being warned before signing off from the system.

They told MalaysiaNow about not being convinced with the authorities' repeated claims on data security, particularly involving bank account details and other personal information.

Such details include their mortgage and debts, specific details of dependents in the household as well as phone number of the family members.

Syafiqah, 28, said she did not want her mother to fulfill the system's requirements to disclose financial and loan details.

Her mother, who teaches at the government-run Kemas kindergarten, asked for her help to update PADU.

"I went to the website and filled in the information as usual, until I reach the section that asked details on loans.

"My mother had provided the details to be filled up on a piece of paper. But I only keyed-in the number '0000'," Syafiqah told MalaysiaNow.

"I don't know why they ask for such details. My mother is only a Kemas kindergarten teacher who will retire in a few years. It is dangerous, if data is leaked, her savings could be lost," she added.

Syafiqah said she had followed what her friend who worked at a private audit firm had done, who told her that mandatory columns must be filled or the form would be "incomplete".

"But if I put '0000', the system accepts it as an answer and considers that we have completed the mandatory part."

The man behind PADU, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli, said information in the database would guide the government in determining those eligible to receive government aid and subsidies.

But Syafiqah said she had good reasons for not sharing information such as bank accounts, identity card numbers and phone numbers.

She recalled how her late father's personal information that was given to a community credit company in the hire purchase of a mobile phone had landed into another party.

Last year, they were told that there was still a three-month arrears, although her father died in 2021.

"Upon checking, we discovered that someone had used my father's MyKad photo and bank card number to subscribe to a water filter service in 2019."

It is concerns such as expressed by Syafiqah that led the Sarawak government to postpone the PADU registration exercise for people in the state.

The Sarawak government said the public's concern about data privacy is well-founded, especially when PADU demands many details that are irrelevant.

Rafizi has rejected all criticism about data security in PADU. Yesterday, he said 10.6 million people have submitted their details ahead of the deadline.

The PKR deputy president, who once led the PKR-linked Invoke, a company that involved in gauging people's political sentiments using data, has continued to defend PADU by saying it is safe from any form of attack, in addition to data privacy being strictly controlled.

Shortly after PADU's launch earlier this year, rights group Lawyers for Liberty warned of the risk of sensitive information being exposed without giving people any legal recourse.

This is because Rafizi said the government was not bound by the Personal Data Protection Act.

Like Syafiqah, security guard who wants to be known only as Kak Mala, 45, also updated her details in PADU without providing complete information about her finances.

Kak Mala said she simply keyed-in the letter "X" for answers she didn't want to share.

As a result, Kak Mala said the system did not accept the submitted details.

"When I got to the part for declaration, there was a problem. I couldn't click on anything.

"So I just left it like that," she told MalaysiaNow.

Kak Mala said that those in low-income groups also have a right to worry about disclosing personal data to third parties.

"If you have only RM40 in the bank, even that can vanish," she quipped.

Kak Mala, who once signed up for BR1M, the cash assistance scheme started by former prime minister Najib Razak, said it was never the case before that the government demanded all sorts of details to be able to get assistance.

MalaysiaNow has contacted the economy ministry for a response.