After donation fiasco, Penang says will use own funds to procure Covid-19 vaccines

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state exco also discussed the vaccine donor controversy during its meeting and have decided to concentrate on the best approach in obtaining more vaccine supply as soon as possible. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state exco also discussed the vaccine donor controversy during its meeting and have decided to concentrate on the best approach in obtaining more vaccine supply as soon as possible. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, May 21 — The Penang state government will be using its own funds to purchase additional Covid-19 vaccines, said Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

The Penang lawmaker said the state exco made this decision during its meeting on May 19 and that the state will write a letter to the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry today for approval to purchase the vaccines.

“We will ask for approval to purchase the vaccines either directly from the vaccine supplier approved by the federal government or directly from the vaccine manufacturer,” he said in a statement today.

He hoped the federal government will respond positively to the state’s application.

“The state government reiterates its commitment to put aside political differences in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and implementation of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme,” he said.

Chow said the state exco also discussed the vaccine donor controversy during its meeting and have decided to concentrate on the best approach in obtaining more vaccine supply as soon as possible.

On the controversy, Chow, who is also Penang DAP chairman, said Penang DAP has lodged a police report against Yong Chee Kong for his allegations that Penang DAP had written a letter for Yong as a formal offer letter to the state government.

“Penang DAP has never written the letter as alleged and Penang DAP has lodged a police report at the Jalan Patani police station today,” he said.

Chow was referring to a telephone interview Yong gave to Malay Mail where he claimed the letter with his signature and his private address was written by the Penang DAP to be presented as a formal offer to the state government.

He said the donation offer of two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Penang had become controversial which was far from the state’s original intentions when it held the press conference revealing the offer.

“This is a very unfortunate development to the whole issue,” he said while stressing that the state did not want to engage in a verbal war with any party including the federal government.

He said the state’s main aim was to procure additional vaccine supply to speed up the vaccination process and to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

“I take this opportunity to apologise for this controversy and hope we can continue with our efforts to face the challenges of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

He said since National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin claimed the vaccine offer was a scam and police reports have been lodged over the issue, the state government will fully cooperate in the police investigations into the issue.

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