KUALA LUMPUR, June 12 — The government signed off on a Covid-19 vaccine procurement agreement that favoured the producers and suppliers more than the country’s coffers to save lives, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni said the situation at that time was about life and death.
“The government made a decision to continue with the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine even though the agreement contract did not favour the government aimed to protect Malaysians and from the worsening of the Covid-19 infection, complications that could lead to death, and ensure that 80 per cent herd immunity is achieved immediately.
“The government made a fundamental decision to abide by this vaccine procurement agreement to speed up the Covid-19 vaccine procurement process because every citizen's life is precious,” Lukanisman said in winding up the Health White Paper on the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Lukanisman was responding to Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim who asked why the government went ahead with the contract even though it knew it to be lopsided.
“The Attorney General’s Chambers had raised the issue of irregularity in the draft agreement which is overall not in favour of the government.
“Although the government was aware of this, it had to make a decision to continue with urgent purchases for reasons of public interest and health.
“In addition, among the challenges faced by the government in obtaining sufficient supplies of the Covid-19 vaccine are as follows – the Covid-19 vaccine is in a market scenario dominated by producers or suppliers and this situation gave room to the producers to make terms that favoured them,” Lukanisman said.
He told Parliament that that the the government was told, in several procurement negotiation sessions with manufacturers that the contract with Malaysia was based on a global template, and that other countries that were buying the Covid-19 vaccine also used the same.
Last February, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said this was among the “irregularities” discovered with the multi-billion-ringgit purchase of Covid-19 vaccines for the country.
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, two ministries were put in charge of Covid-19 pandemic-related matters as well as the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba was the health minister while Khairy Jamaluddin was then the science, technology and innovation minister during the administration under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin beginning March 2020.
The Health White Paper was passed today after debate from Opposition and government MPs today.