KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today defended his actions of exposing a purportedly “bogus” vaccine donor who had offered to sponsor two million Sinovac vaccine doses for the Penang state government.
Taking to Twitter, the coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) said that his aide had gotten in touch with the man, named Yong Chee Kong, and had asked for proof of donation which Yong failed to produce.
“He said no. He said he has money in an account in Hong Kong.
“She then told him he can either show proof of the donation or make an official donation to the government of Malaysia which we will pass to the Penang government. Not for him to pay to any company. Which he refused.
“As I said yesterday, I am happy to facilitate the donation if Mr Yong can prove he can procure the vaccines or make an official contribution to the government,” Khairy said, sharing a Malay Mail article with an interview with Yong.
Khairy’s comments come after Malay Mail’s report earlier, in which Yong insisted that his offer to donate the Sinovac doses to Penang was not a hoax.
The man claiming to be a Sabah businessman offering to donate the vaccines insisted his offer was genuine and not “bogus” as described by Khairy yesterday.
Identifying himself as Yong Chee Kong from Hong Kong-based investment company Xintai Enterprise Development Limited, he told Malay Mail that there was no link to the firm as he was acting in his personal capacity to donate the vaccines and never wanted the exposure.
“This is now a political issue. It’s not fair to me. We only wanted to donate the vaccines, not give cash,” said Yong.
He also asserted that the offer was not initially meant for Penang but Sabah.
According to the address that was included in the letter offering the vaccines to Penang, Yong is a resident of the state.
“I had reached out to the Sabah government via the chief minister but when they didn’t respond, Penang approached me and said since Sabah has rejected the offer, why not offer it to the Opposition?” he said during a phone interview.
Yong also explained that the letter bearing his signature was written by the Penang DAP to be presented as a formal offer and that it, unfortunately, carried his private address and not that of a company.
“I didn’t write the letter, this is something my boss in HK wanted, it shouldn’t be my address,” he said.
Following the Penang government’s allegation that Putrajaya was blocking this “donation”, Khairy revealed yesterday that due diligence the government performed found no evidence that the donor had contacted either Sinovac in China or its local distributor here.
Khairy further alleged that there was no record of Yong or the company following checks in Hong Kong, after which the minister described the purported offer to be “bogus”.
During the dispute between Putrajaya and Penang, the purported offer letter was also leaked online, which included Yong’s address here.
When asked if his offer to donate the vaccines remained valid, Yong claimed to have spoken to an aide to Khairy yesterday about the matter.
He reiterated that he would only donate vaccines that he procured himself and was not offering funds to purchase vaccines.
Yong also said he was consulting his lawyer about whether to call for a press conference and clarify matters following the minister’s revelation.
Yesterday, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow demanded that Yong’s company publicly address Khairy’s allegations as they were serious in nature.
Chow previously said the company had offered to donate two million doses of Sinovac, the Covid-19 vaccine from China, back in February, adding that the state secretary had officially written to the Health Ministry secretary-general for approval to accept the donated vaccine.