Padu should have been scrutinised before rollout, says Lee Lam Thye

PETALING JAYA: It is important to ensure all possible downsides of the Central Database Hub (Padu) system are thoroughly investigated with more stringent tests before the rollout and not after its implementation, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

Lee said if such a thing were not done prior, it would be akin to closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

“It is important to make assurance, doubly sure, that is to ensure that the new system works correctly before it is launched to the public.

“But, judging by the initial concerns expressed at the launch of Padu, that does not seem to have been done.

“The Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said on Thursday (Jan 4) that authorities were constantly monitoring and testing the system, but then why the initial hiccups?” Lee said in a statement on Friday (Jan 5).

He added that before the implementation, the government should have imposed robust security measures, including encryption, access controls and regular audits.

Additionally, transparency and strict adherence to data protection laws should help alleviate privacy concerns, he also said.

If this is neglected, he pointed out that it will shake the public’s confidence and delay the trickling down of its benefits.

Previously, there have been so many data leak incidents involving government agencies such as the Social Security Organisation (Perkeso), the National Registration Department and the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), he said.

“Padu can only meet its objective properly if it can obtain up-to-date details from most of the population.

“Even though it was reported that Padu’s administrator had swiftly fixed a certain flaw, it is something that should not have happened in the first place if the pre-testing methods had been robust.

“We should emulate what some global IT companies have been practising where they have been employing their own staff to deliberately breach the system and then apply more stringent controls,” he said.

He added that keeping software and systems up-to-date with the latest security patches is essential to address known vulnerabilities.

However, Lee also said the Padu national database system, which was launched on Tuesday (Jan 2), was indeed a step in the right direction.

Citing India as one of the world’s largest digital populations, with over 1.3 billion people successfully registered, he added that having a digital ecosystem has many advantages.

“The Padu system is intended to act as a national database of socio-economic information for every household in the country, providing regular analytics. Among others, the system will be used for targeted subsidies.

“It can also make it easier to manage and access information, streamlining various government services, and it can help governments allocate resources more effectively by having a comprehensive overview of the citizens’ needs,” he said.