KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) is not currently taking action over the supply of faulty ventilators from Pharmaniaga Logistics Sdn Bhd (PLSB) during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said this was because emergency procurement of the breathing machines had followed protocols approved by the Ministry of Finance (MOF), taking into account the urgency and situation at the time.
“Based on the forthcoming report of PAC (Public Accounts Committee) proceedings, the Ministry will peruse it and take the necessary action based on recommendations from the PAC proceedings,” Dr Zaliha said in a written Dewan Negara reply last June 27 to Senator Zurainah Musa.
Zurainah had asked if any disciplinary action had been taken against any MOH staff over the supply of non-functioning ventilators from Pharmaniaga during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
PAC chairwoman Mas Ermieyati Samsudin reportedly said last June 8 that her committee – which monitors government procurement – would summon the secretaries-general of the MOH and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation on June 15, in its investigation of expired Covid-19 vaccines and faulty ventilators supplied to the government during the pandemic.
The Auditor-General’s 2021 Report (Series 2) revealed that PLSB had supplied 93 defective ventilators during the pandemic, costing the government RM13 million in losses that could not be recovered due to the lack of documentation related to the procurement.
According to the national audit, the government had ordered 500 new ventilators from PLSB, a subsidiary of listed pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga Bhd, in March 2020.
However, PLSB only supplied 136 ventilators, out of which only 28 were usable. Ventilators, which were crucial to save lives, had been scarce, especially at the height of the pandemic in Malaysia.
Several MPs, who participated in the Dewan Rakyat’s debate on the Auditor-General’s report last month, heavily criticised the supply of defective ventilators during the Covid public health emergency.
Rasah MP Cha Kee Chin from the DAP, describing it as an “unforgivable” and a “very serious omission”, had demanded accountability for the procurement.
Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni, when winding up the debate, told Parliament that in the future, the government must ensure proper procurement procedures and agreements even during emergencies.
He noted that MOF’s emergency procurement protocols during Covid did not mandate documentation of agreements with suppliers.