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Gerakan In The News

Penang Gerakan lodges report over vaccine donation scam

May 20, 2021

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Gerakan has lodged a police report over a scam by an allegedly bogus Hong-Kong based company which was said to have offered two million doses of the Covid-19 Sinovac vaccine to the state government.

The report was lodged at the Jalan Patani police station here by its representative Mohd Aswaad Jaafar this morning.

“To protect the interest and welfare of the people of Penang, we decided to lodge the report to enable the police to investigate the matter further,” he said when met outside the northeast district police headquarters.

Aswaad said Penang Gerakan was shocked by the latest development into the vaccine offer to the state government after it was first raised during a press conference on Tuesday.

He said if what the Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) Khairy Jamaluddin revealed yesterday was true, then the Penang Pakatan Harapan government and Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow have been conned.

“If indeed what Khairy had revealed is true, then this is a very serious cheating case. This has affected the good image of the DAP-led state government, which has always emphasised on trustworthiness and accountability,” he added.

Yesterday, in a press conference conducted virtually, Khairy revealed that the offer to donate and pay for the supply of two million doses of the Covid-19 Sinovac vaccine to the Penang government allegedly made by a private company was bogus.

The conclusion that the offer was a form of scam was made after a company search on the private company allegedly based in Hong Kong as well as the supplier of the vaccine, which is Sinovac Biotech Ltd. showed that it did not exist.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister also said that based on checks conducted by his ministry, he could conclude that what was shown by Chow during Tuesday’s press conference was a scam, bogus and not true at all.

Elaborating, Aswaad said the report was lodged based on several points.

“Firstly, there was attempt to cheat two state governments – Sabah and Penang. If what Khairy said was true, then the Penang government had successfully been cheated.

“The wrongdoing involved a sum of more than RM100 million, so, it is important to investigate the source of such a huge amount of money.

“We are now under health emergency, and such situation will affect the people’s trust on the information provided by the government on the vaccine. This will possibly affect the safety of the people and the country in terms of the worsening Covid-19 pandemic.

“Lastly, the press conference by Chow and his predecessor, Lim Guan Eng, had resulted in dissaticfaction and anger by some Malaysians, particularly the people of Penang, towards the federal government. Such situation will cause friction among the people and affect unity in efforts to fight the pandemic,” he added.

Aswaad said Chow should also lodge a police report immediately if he felt that he had been cheated by an individual, identified as Yong Chee Kong, as revealed by Khairy, who had made the vaccine offer.

The cost of the two million doses would have come up to between RM112,460,000 and RM245,220,000 based on the market price as gathered by BBC.

“We believe that it is necessary for Chow to lodge a police report for him to defend his good name as the chief minister. His credibility is at stake because this case has showed that he is week and has no capability to lead the state government,” he added.

Aswaad also demanded answers from the state government, particularly Chow, on several issues:

1. Did the state government and the chief minister feel doubtful on the authenticity of the letter written by the said Yong without letterhead?

2. Did the state government and the chief minister conduct a background search on the company and the individual who made the vaccine offer before seeking the views of the Health Ministry?

3. Did the state government and the chief minister contact the woman named as the international sales officer for Sinovac Biotech in the letter, dated February this year, to seek further information?

4. The chief minister said the offer was made by a private company, was there any suspicion on why payment transaction would be made through the individual’s personal bank account? What was to motive behind the offer?

“As such, we urge the police to act swiftly to investigate the case with subversive element. At the same time, the Penang government must allay any doubts by answering our questions,” he added.

When contacted, northeast district police chief Assistant Commissioner Soffian Santong confirmed police had received a report on the matter this morning.

“For the time being, I can’t comment further while investigations are being carried out,” he told the New Straits Times.