APPROVE STATE GOVTS' PROCUREMENT OF COVID-19 VACCINES AT ONCE, GUAN ENG URGES
21 May 2021
KUALA LUMPUR: The people’s desperation for Covid-19 vaccines should move the Perikatan Nasional Federal Government to approve the procurement by state governments or offers of vaccine donations immediately, said Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng.
“In the face of a record surge in daily infections to a frightening 6,075 cases yesterday, the public is crying out urgently for vaccines to protect them from Covid-19 and its vicious variants.
“Some in the private sector are so desperate that they are willing to pool resources to purchase the vaccines overseas but are told that such purchase must be approved by the government and transacted through a government intermediary,” he said in a statement.
Guan Eng said the Penang state government has declared its willingness to be this intermediary to provide free vaccines to front liners and the high-risk groups as well as to those able to afford the vaccines.
“It is more practical to allow those who can purchase the vaccine as this will allow more vaccines to be given to others for free.
“Therefore, in response to the desperate appeals from Penangites, after Sarawak and Selangor were able to procure these vaccines, the state government is open to purchase these vaccines as well as receive donations from any interested parties,” he added.
Previously, the Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state wants the Health Ministry’s approval over its request to accept vaccine donations which were reportedly offered by a private company was turned down by the Health Ministry.
Chow also mentioned that the state government’s earlier request to purchase the vaccines was also not entertained.
In response, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaludin said that the donation of 2 million doses of vaccines from a private company offered to the Penang state was from a company that did not exist.
Chow responded by saying no mention of a false company was made in the rejection letter from the ministry to the state government.
Instead he said that Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah informed the Penang state government that it is not necessary to seek out private vaccine contributions since Putrajaya is already planning and implementing the National Immunisation Programme.
“If what Khairy said is true, then I am willing to apologise so that we can focus the importance of securing vaccines for the rakyat through a whole government effort.
“Whether the company exists or not is a secondary issue, and should not distract from the two principal issues of the Federal government granting immediate approval to all state governments to purchase vaccines of secure vaccine donations.
“It is not wrong to seek vaccines at the earliest possible time for the rakyat to protect them by every legal means possible,” said Guan Eng.