KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 — Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong clarified today that the government’s purchase of 10 million face masks from the Chinese government was because local manufacturers were unable to keep up with the demand.

Wee explained that after the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs minister restricted the export of face masks, the existing domestic manufacturers were only able to produce limited quantities of face masks and subsequently led to Malaysia’s import of supplies from China.

“During the National Security Council meeting with state Mentri Besars and Chief Ministers held on March 20, I had recommended that the 20 per cent import duty and 10 per cent sales tax for face masks be abolished.

“Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin then agreed and ordered the Transport Ministry to handle the importation of face masks from China through cargo freight,” he said in a statement today.


Wee also said he was disheartened to see certain political leaders and irresponsible parties twisting the fact that the Chinese government had donated 10 million face masks to the Malaysian government, with the government then accused of taking advantage by selling them back to the people at the ceiling price through Pharmaniaga.

“Such accusatory actions at the moment our country is dealing with such difficulties is truly unacceptable!” he exclaimed.

Earlier today, the Finance Ministry decided to exempt certain types of face masks from import duty and sales tax, effective March 23.


In a statement issued by the Royal Malaysian Customs Department, the ministry has agreed for registered manufacturers to be exempted from charging a sales tax on the face masks.

“This is the decision that everyone is waiting for to ensure the supply of reasonably-priced face masks,” Wee said of the Finance Ministry’s decision.

He said with the exemption of both taxes, he was hopeful that such measures would lighten the financial burden of all parties, especially the people.