The Penang government has told a company purportedly offering to donate two million Sinovac doses to the state to substantiate this after a federal minister publicly revealed the offer to be “bogus” and the firm ”non-existent”.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the National Immunisation Programme coordinating minister’s allegations were serious and required a response from the company.
“The state government has done its responsibility as best as possible in this issue as the offer of vaccines can be given to the people of Penang to protect them from COVID-19,” he said in a statement yesterday.
“The company and the company director named by the minister should come forward to respond to the accusations and reject the accusation.”
Yesterday, Khairy said in a press conference said the authorities concluded the offer to be fake after performing due diligence with the manufacturer of the Sinovac vaccines in China as well as the local distributor here.
The National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) coordinating minister said that checks made with Sinovac showed there is no evidence to show that the company — Xintai Development Enterprise — had approached them to purchase the vaccines for Penang state.
“I’ve reached out to Ms Coco Chang, Head of International Sales at Sinovac Biotech on this donation and she has informed me that she has had zero dealings with the company or the person the letter was addressed to — Yong Chee Kong,” he said.
He went on to state that the offer is bogus as company records in Hong Kong showed that the company does not exist and that no one knows who Yong Chee Kong, named in the letter, is.
Chow said the state had taken the appropriate steps to ask for the views of the state health department (JKNPP) after receiving the letter on the offer of vaccines from the company dated February 1.
“JKNPP has asked that the matter be presented to the Health Ministry for their view and further advice,” he said.
He said state secretary Datuk Abdul Razak Jaafar wrote to Health Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah on February 15 through a letter titled “Memohon Pandangan Kementerian Kesihatan Bagi Penggunaan Vaksin COVID-19 Untuk Rakyat Negeri Pulau Pinang Melalui Sumbangan Syarikat Swasta”. (Requesting the view of the Health Ministry for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to the people of Penang through contribution from a private company.)
“Mohd Shafiq replied to the state government on March 12 that we do not need to consider the contribution of vaccines as the federal government is planning the rollout of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme,” he said.
He said Mohd Shafiq did not mention anything on the status of the private company.
“The state government did not follow up with this as we could not present the Health Ministry’s approval to the company for them to continue discussions with the vaccine producer to procure the vaccine,” he said.
He said he raised the offer of the vaccine contribution as he wanted to question why the Health Ministry did not allow Penang to accept the contribution when Selangor and Sarawak were reportedly allowed to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.
When asked if the state government had done its due diligence in checking the validity of the private company and its offer to contribute the vaccines, Chow did not reply. — Malay Mail
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