Penang Got Scammed Over Covid-19 Vaccine ‘Donation’: Khairy

Khairy Jamaluddin says China’s Sinovac Biotech told him it did not receive any application from the individual who offered Sinovac vaccines to Penang, and that the individual’s Hong Kong-based company does not exist.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — A private company’s offer to purportedly donate two million doses of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine to the Penang state government was not backed up by the vaccine developer in China, Khairy Jamaluddin said today. 

The vaccine minister said upon verification with Sinovac Biotech Ltd, he was informed that the China-based pharmaceutical company did not receive any documents or applications related to the purported donation by an individual named Yong Chee Kong.

Yong, in his February 1 letter without a letterhead to Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow that Khairy’s office shared with the press, introduced himself as a Malaysian and a general manager of a company called Xintai Development Enterprise Ltd based in Hong Kong.

Yong — whose address was listed in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, in his letter — wrote that he had communicated with Sinovac’s international sales representative called Coco Chang.

Yong offered in his letter to pay a deposit of US$2 million to Sinovac and to pay the remaining balance for the two million doses of the coronavirus vaccine on behalf of the Penang state government if negotiations were successful.

The letter also claimed that Yong would make all payments through his personal HSBC bank account in Hong Kong. Sinovac sells its Covid-19 vaccine at US$13.60 (RM56) per dose to the Indonesian government. Assuming that is the price that Yong’s purported “company” is buying Sinovac’s vaccine for, the individual’s offered donation of two million doses to the Penang state government would be worth RM112 million.

“After I verified with Sinovac in China, I want to state that there is no proof or documents or application received from any representative of the said company related to the said donation,” Khairy told a virtual press conference today.

“The woman named as the sales rep also confirmed that she did not manage Sinovac Biotech Ltd for the Asian market and denied that she was called for this matter. 

“I did a company search on ‘Xintai Enterprise Limited’, according to the letter. Yesterday we found that this company did not exist,” he added, referring to a company record search on Hong Kong companies.

Khairy told reporters that he had actually received the same letter from Yong on February 9 on a similar offer to donate two million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine to the Sabah state government.

“This is a scam. This is bogus,” Khairy said.

Yesterday, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng accused the federal government of blocking the donation of two million doses of Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine from a private company which they did not name.

Khairy said that if the Penang state government could prove that the offer of the Covid-19 vaccine donation from Yong was genuine, he would issue immediate approval for the state to bring in the vaccines.

“I completely understand everyone wants to play their part. I’m not at all concerned that there is this tremendous desire to be vaccinated as quickly as possible. I completely understand that, but again I would like to urge, don’t politicise the vaccination issue,” Khairy said.

“That’s clearly what happened yesterday in the press conference between Chow Kon Yeow and Lim Guan Eng. And had it been something that was genuine, I would be the first to apologise and I would be the first to expedite for them to receive these vaccines as donations as quickly as possible. 

“But when it’s proven it’s bogus and a scam, we were bashed for 24 hours because of this fraudulent claim, I feel extremely disappointed. I feel extremely disappointed with the Chief Minister of Penang and Guan Eng as former finance minister, they should really know better.”

Khairy said the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) would file a police complaint to uncover the purported donor’s identity, adding: “I wish the Penang chief minister and Lim Guan Eng had done their due diligence.” 

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