Offer to purchase Covid-19 vaccines for Penang was genuine, claims Sabah businessman, refuting Khairy’s claims that it was a bogus offer.
A man claiming to be the Sabah businessman offering to donate two million Sinovac vaccine doses to Penang insisted his offer was genuine and not “bogus” as described by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaludin yesterday.
Identifying himself as Yong Chee Kong from Hong Kong-based investment company Xintai Enterprise Development Limited, he told Malay Mail when contacted that there was no link to the firm as he was acting in his personal capacity to donate the vaccines and never wanted the exposure.
“This is now a political issue. It’s not fair to me. We only wanted to donate the vaccines, not give cash,” said Yong.
He also asserted that the offer was not initially meant for Penang but Sabah.
According to the address that was included in the letter offering the vaccines to Penang, Yong is a resident of the state.
“I had reached out to the Sabah government via the chief minister but when they didn’t respond, Penang approached me and said since Sabah has rejected the offer, why not offer it to the Opposition?” he said during a phone interview with Malay Mail.
Yong added that the letter to Chow was written on behalf of his Hong Kong employer and that the offer for the vaccine still stands.
Since the matter has been politicised, Yong said he is now seeking legal advice.
“The offer still stands. It has been politicised. Now I have to clear my name. I am consulting my lawyer,” he said.
Yesterday, Khairy, who is also the coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, said he had investigated the offer by Yong and found that it was a scam and a bogus offer.
Khairy said based on checks with Sinovac, no order was placed by the company nor individuals involved. A check on company records also showed that the company did not exist, he said.
He said he had received a similar offer from the same individual on February 9 for the Sabah government.
Following the statement from Khairy, former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng said he was willing to apologise if the offer to donate two million doses of CoronaVac vaccine to the state government is proven to be bogus.
On Tuesday, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and Lim both claimed at a press conference that the Federal Government was blocking Penang from procuring the vaccine, commonly referred to as Sinovac, made by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Chow claimed that the Health Ministry had declined to approve Penang’s request for the private company to sponsor two million vaccine doses from China.
Lim then entered the fray by urging Chow to just accept the vaccines on offer, even without the Federal Government’s approval, and deal with the consequences later.
According to Chow, health ministry secretary-general Mohd Shafiq Abdullah had written to him saying it was unnecessary to consider other vaccine contributors, as the federal government had planned and implemented the national immunisation programme.
Lim said vaccines ought to be decentralised to states to allow more people to get inoculated.
“The Penang government has declared its willingness to be the intermediary to provide free vaccines to frontliners and high-risk groups as well as to those able to afford the vaccines.
“Why should there be a monopoly of the vaccines by one company when decentralisation can increase the vaccination rate?
“It is more sensible to allow those who can afford to pay, to purchase vaccines at their own cost because this will make more vaccines available to be given free to others,” he said.
Following Yong’s statement today that his offer was genuine, Khairy defended his actions of exposing the purportedly “bogus” vaccine donor.
Taking to Twitter, he said that his aide had gotten in touch with Yong and had asked for proof of donation which Yong failed to produce.
“He said no. He said he has money in an account in Hong Kong.
“She then told him he can either show proof of the donation or make an official donation to the government of Malaysia, which we will pass to the Penang government. Not for him to pay to any company. Which he refused.
“As I said yesterday, I am happy to facilitate the donation if Yong can prove he can procure the vaccines or make an official contribution to the government,” Khairy said.
Earlier report: May 20, Vaccine offer to Penang bogus, company doesn’t exist