Penang CM apologises over vaccine donation issue

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The state government has also since lodged a police report over the entire issue and denied all allegation made by the purported donor.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today apologised for the controversy arising from the vaccine donation scam.

Chow said it was never the Penang government’s intention to be engaged in a war of words with anyone, let alone the federal government.

He also said the state government had lodged a police report at the Jalan Patani police station in Penang this morning.

This followed an interview with Yong Chee Kong, the person said to have made the offer to donate two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Penang, after he revealed that the letter bearing his signature was written by the Penang DAP to be presented as a formal offer.

“This is a serious and baseless allegation. Penang DAP had never written the alleged letter. We lodged a police report today.

TMI

“I also want to take this opportunity to apologise for the controversy. It is my hope that we can continue all efforts in facing the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic for the good of the people of this country,” he said in a statement today.

The controversy surrounding the vaccine donation came about after Chow’s predecessor, Lim Guan Eng, told a press conference attended by the duo on Tuesday that he was shocked that the Health Ministry had not approved Penang’s request to accept the donation of two million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from a private company to the state government.

Lim was angered over the Health Ministry’s rejection.

He had said then that all frontliners, including the media, and those in the high-risk group would have been vaccinated by now if the vaccine donation was allowed.

The donor was identified as Yong Chee Kong, a director of a Hong Kong-based company, Xintai Enterprise Development Limited.

Lim had also said that Penang should just accept the vaccine donation and not wait for approval, and to accept whatever punishment meted out on them later, if any.

Following Lim’s outburst, netizens took to social media to bash the federal government.

Khairy Jamaluddin, however, later revealed the company was a bogus entity and the offer was a scam.

The coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP), who investigated the claim, said Sinovac had confirmed it had not received any orders from the company or individuals involved.

Similarly, he said checks on company records revealed that the organisation did not exist.

However, Yong, when interviewed by the Malay Mail Online yesterday, said the offer was genuine.

He told the portal the donation had no links to the firm, and he was acting out of his personal capacity.

He added that the offer was initially meant for the Sabah government, but they did not respond.

Yong then said he was approached by the Penang government who was willing to accept the offer.

Sabah police chief Hazani Ghazali today said they had recorded Yong’s statement in relation to the issue.

Chow also said the state executive council, during its meeting on Wednesday, had discussed this controversy and decided to focus on the best approach to procure Covid-19 vaccines in the near future to fulfil the demands of the people in the state who want to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“As such, the state exco has decided to use the state government’s funds to procure additional Covid-19 vaccines immediately besides the supply to be given by the federal government for the use of the state.

“For that reason, I have written to Khairy, who is also the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister today, to seek approval for us to procure the vaccine directly from the supplier approved by the federal government in the state or from vaccine producing companies.

“I hope the federal government will give us positive feedback on our application. Again, the Penang government reiterates its commitment to set aside political differences to ensure the success of the campaigns to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, including the implementation of the NIP.


Earlier reports:

May 20: Donor: Vaccine offer to Penang is genuine

May 20: Vaccine offer to Penang bogus, company doesn’t exist