“Is the QR-coded wristband effective?”

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, May 26: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii wants the state government to address concerns over the effectiveness and reliability of the QR-coded wristband issued to persons-under-surveillance (PUS) following reports of individuals flouting quarantine orders.

“This is a real cause for concern as it increases the risk of possible infection among the general public, especially if the PUS is a carrier of the coronavirus.

“There are reports of people going out even with the tag (wristband), cutting the tag or hiding them before they go out, is a cause for concern and shows gaps in the system where we were informed that there are certain levels of digital tracking on the tag provided,” he asserted in a statement today.

Recently, a 27-year-old man in Sibu took off his wristband and escaped from quarantine to visit a coffeeshop to eat noodles. He even posted a photo of his food on Facebook and captioned it, “Quarantine Day 7”.

His behaviour was heavily criticised by netizens and he turned himself in at the Sibu Jaya police station yesterday (May 25) morning.

Dr Yii thus questioned not just the effectiveness of the wristband but also the cost incurred by the state government to implement the measure.

According to him, the QR-coded wristband, engineered by the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), serves to monitor the wearers’ whereabouts during Movement Control Order (MCO) period and perform ‘random checks’ on them based on the information sent from the devise.

Based on the instructions leaflet provided, Yii observed that the PUS was supposed to scan the QR code at 8am and 8pm every day. After 14 days or as instructed, the PUS can cut off the tag themselves.

“Does this tag have real-time tracking capabilities, which mean the ability to track the location of the tag 24/7 wherever the person is, or only when they check in at 8am and 8pm daily?

“What if the PUS scans the QR code at 8am, go out to public places to have a meal and be back at 8pm to scan it again? Can it detect the person’s location in between those periods?” he asked.

If the wristband has the ability to track the wearer’s location, he further questioned as to why an alert was not sent out to authorities if person breached the boundaries of quarantine.

Moreover, Dr Yii pointed out that allowing wearers to remove the wristband themselves could lead to all kinds of possible manipulations as they can cut it and tape it back before totally removing it in front of the camera when the video is sent to the authority.

“From the different cases we read of people cutting it and going out, there is a safe assumption that it does not have such functions as advertised. Probably it is merely an accessory to ‘scare’ people to comply.

“While I understand, a huge part comes down to the social responsibility of the PUS themselves, but if these tracking wristbands cannot do those things it is ‘advertised’ to do, then why have it?” he asked.

Dr Yii also emphasised that all these questions needed to be answered especially if it involved public funds as well as the health and safety of the people.

He pointed out other methods should be considered including those used in countries like Taiwan or some parts of China which have shown good results.

“Any gaps or lacks in the system must be properly addressed, otherwise it is a waste of money especially if it does not serve its proper role,” he added. — DayakDaily