A Malaysian United Democratic Party (Muda) leader has urged National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin to explain flaws with the website to register for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In a statement today, Muda secretary-general Amir Abd Hadi said many people were unable to use the government website to register themselves for the AstraZeneca vaccine after it was opened today.
“After many times failed to assist the public in vaccination registration, the public has raised many questions, including the use of the free version of ‘cloudflare’.
“This also raised many questions regarding the cost used to develop the system worth RM70 million,” he said.
Amir also stressed that Khairy must reveal the company behind the website.
“The rakyat deserves to know,” he said.
On social media, Malaysians looking to register for the voluntary AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine were met with frustration and disappointment as they attempted to book their spot after missing out on the first round.
Reminiscent of the first and second round registrations for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the third-round opt-in was similarly met with several hiccups within seconds of it going “live” just after noon.
Initially scheduled to go live at noon sharp, the bookings were only opened shortly after 12.20pm and were immediately marred by technical glitches which impeded successful registrations.
Applicants were unable to select their respective states for the designated vaccination centres earlier while others complained of being stuck in an infinite captcha loop.
Khairy said last Friday that the second-round opt-in will be open to those under age 60 if there were still slots available once registration for seniors closed on May 26.
The AstraZeneca vaccine opt-in was first made available to the public on May 2 but was limited at that time to residents in the Klang Valley.
Registration for its 268,800 slots opened at noon on May 2 and was fully snapped up within three hours.
The second round of the opt-in will see 1.26 million doses be made available. These are open to those residing in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Johor and Sarawak.
Kurian Thomas, an IT professional for over 25 years believes the system was not designed to handle millions of simultaneous requests.
He also said a typical website is not the same as a registration site, which has to interact with many other sites to send and receive data.
“It all depends on what systems it needs to integrate with. If all the systems and the MySejahtera app sit on the same platform, that would be ideal,” he said.
“If it’s a disparate system, then there are dependencies. And if these dependencies are slow, and the main website keeps getting simultaneous requests, it’s bad design architecture.”
Other web developers have also weighed in on the numerous technical problems plaguing applicants today.
Timothy Teoh, who is described in his LinkedIn account as a cloud architect and full-stack technology leader with 13 years of experience, said that there were a “litany of failures” – key among them the lack of visual feedback to the user when appointment slots fail to load.
However, Teoh said the overarching failure was in the “design of the database”, adding that the Covid-19 vaccine supply access guarantee special committee (JKJAV) should have done a better job at partitioning data on the website.
He said that given the high amount of traffic during previous registration rounds, he would have gone even deeper into the partitioning and actually partitioned the data per PPV (Vaccine Dispensation Centre), per day.
Teoh said that even those who are non-technical could see that appointment slots have been allocated per day, per PPV location and per state.
“Breaking up your data into partitions is hard if you don’t know how the data needs to be accessed — but this was not the case here,” he said in a post on his LinkedIn page.
“The availability of slots on June 22 in UM has no bearing on the availability of a slot on July 22 in Penang.
“A first pass would be to partition the slots by PPV as shown here. This distributes requests more evenly, and isolates traffic load.
“I hope JKJAV improves the process as lives are at stake.”
Zul, a web developer involved in enterprise level e-procurement services, said that dividing the registration up by states would have seen less headaches as JKJAV’s server did not seem capable of handling the amount of traffic.
“If they split the registration based on the states, then the requests would have been distributed evenly,” he told FMT.
“I would think that would have been a better solution since their server could not handle the traffic.”
Apart from being unable to view the vaccination centres despite refreshing the website, people were blocked from submitting their applications despite entering details several times. There were also numerous complaints from applicants who said their appointment dates would not load after they clicked on their respective states.
Among the other complaints include applicants not receiving a message after completing their registration, leaving them unsure if their application was successful.
The criticism comes amid calls to identify the company involved in creating the website.
It was previously reported that RM70 million had been allocated for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme’s data integration and appointment system, a sum that coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin last month said was “prudent” for the country’s largest-ever immunisation drive.
Touching on comments that the site was run on the free version of web security service Cloudflare, Zul said that it was no surprise users experienced problems registering as the free version would not be able to support the amount of bandwidth required for such mass registration programme.
“There are limitations when using the free version, which is usually for those creating personal websites or websites for hobby projects,” he said.
“Anyone who creates websites would understand this, but I don’t know why they used the free version,” he said.
In a separate Twitter thread, freelance web developer Ashvin Menon tagged Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince and asked him to help JKJAV as it was a “national medical emergency”.
In response, Prince said that he would be happy to do so and asked JKJAV to reach out to him, after which Menon tagged JKJAV, Khairy and health director general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
An aide to Khairy said the ministry is looking into today’s technical glitches.