KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — No parties could be held accountable for the 104 unusable ventilators out of the 136 procured for Covid-19 patients, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has revealed today.
In a report released today, it said this was due to an absence of a written agreement between the Health Ministry and supplier Pharmaniaga Logistic Sdn Bhd (PLSB).
“The absence of a written agreement between the Health Ministry and PLSB meant that none of the parties can be held accountable for legal action taken with regards to the 104 ventilator units that failed to function.
“Until now, the uncertainty of PLSB's role in this issue resulted in legal action not being implemented,” the PAC said in its report.
The report was related to the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically on expired vaccines, unusable ventilators and a surplus of personal protective equipment (PPE) under the Health Ministry.
According to the PAC report, no contract was drawn up between the Health Ministry and PLSB regarding the procurement of ventilators and the ministry’s legal adviser was not consulted during the process of preparing the PLSB appointment letter.
“PLSB did not sign any contract with the supplier and informed the PAC that all purchase order documents and quotation documents show that the ventilator warranty is between the Malaysian Government and the supplier.
“PLSB only acted to manage the delivery of ventilators to Health Ministry facilities and assist the Ministry to contact the manufacturer to use the warranty of ventilators that cannot be used,” the PAC said in its report.
The PAC said it found that the problem with all the ventilators is that the plugs of the ventilators received — Type A —were different from the electrical outlets used in Malaysia, which is Type G.
It said the ventilators could be switched on after the plugs were upgraded, however, each ventilator has different problems in terms of hardware, accessories and software.
A company called IDS Medical Systems (M) Sdn Bhd (IDSMED) was appointed to evaluate the machines and refit them, while PLSB did not receive any remuneration for 32 of the 136 machines.
In addition, the PAC said the Health Ministry had informed that there was no warranty for the ventilators procured by PLSB except for those upgraded following the Emergency Procurement Price Negotiation Meeting held on September 1, 2020.
“PAC found that there was a discrepancy between the Health Ministry and PLSB regarding the existence of a warranty for all 136 ventilator units,” the PAC said in its report.
PAC also found that there was a conflict of information between the Health Ministry and PLSB regarding the existence of a warranty for all 136 ventilator units.
“A review of the quotation document submitted by PLSB to PAC, shows that the warranty is stated by the supplier. However, the PAC found that the quotation document did not include all 136 ventilator units and there was no recipient account,” the PAC said in its report.
In the PAC report, the committee through proceedings conducted on June 15, August 22, September 14 and September 21 this year, has found that PLSB supplied various brands of ventilators from China and this is the first time that the Health Ministry bought these brands of ventilators from China.
The Health Ministry had to procure ventilators from China due to an insufficient supply of ventilators.
“After the ventilators arrived, it was found that the ventilators did not pass the terms and conditions — even though Health Ministry specialists had done prior checks on specifications based on supplied brochure. The defective ventilator can only be used after being upgraded,” the PAC said in its report.
The report also found that the Health Ministry or the Government could not use physical cash to pay, and instead had to be channelled to the embassy or the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) in China.
However, the embassy and Miti in China did not have the specialists to select ventilators and due to this, specialists at the Malaysian Health Ministry needed to select and evaluate the ventilators in question.
According to the report, all payments for the ventilators were made after technical approval was obtained for each unit purchased.
The WhatsApp platform was used where a group chat was set up for the purpose of confirmation or approval of specifications and payment instructions.
“PLSB informed that it only received orders to make purchases and deliveries. The selection of technical specifications was made by the Health Ministry.
“The Health Ministry has carried out a vetting process on all purchasing activities through the WhatsApp application by issuing a letter of instruction to commence with supply or service in a meeting on September 1, 2020.
“Decision to purchase the ventilators was made by relevant officers after all specifications have been agreed by Health Ministry specialists, National Security Council and the Cabinet was informed,” the report said.
With regards to selection of ventilators, the PAC also found that despite PLSB not having experience and expertise in the procurement of medical equipment such as ventilators, PLSB had been instructed to make advance payments for ventilators due to the existing relationship between the Health Ministry and PLSB.
A total of 12 witnesses were called: Ayer Hitam MP Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, Auditor-General Datuk Wan Suraya Wan Mohd Radzi, Deputy Auditor-General (Performance) Hajah Patimah Ramuji, Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Sri Norazman Ayob (Finance), former Health Ministry secretary-general (Finance) Datuk Seri Chen Chaw Min, former Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, former Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, former head of division medical services development Datin Seri Dr Asmah Samat, Pharmaniaga Berhad chairman Izaddeen Daud, Pharmaniaga Berhad chairman, exco Ahmad Shahredzuan Mohd Shariff, Pharmaniaga Berhad former managing director Datuk Farshila Emran and Pharmaniaga Berhad chief operating officer Mohamed Iqbal Abdul Rahman.
It was reported that it cost the Health Ministry RM13.07 million as it could not claim compensation for 93 units due to the absence of procurement documentation between the supplier and the ministry.
On March 25, 2020, the Cabinet was informed of the need for 800 ventilators, following which the Health Ministry had approved RM30 million to a company with the registration number of 260790-T to purchase 500 units of ventilators.