Covid-19 patients treated with defective ventilators died in vain
The Parliament’s Public Account Committee’s Covid management report yesterday revealed that former transport minister and MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong played a proactive role in the ventilator procurement process from China in 2020. The report also noted that Wee’s senior private secretary Wong Lee Yen too played a major role.
This led to 104 out of 136 ventilators supplied by Pharmaniaga Logistics Sdn Bhd to the Health Ministry defective. The 136 came from three suppliers: Entrol (Hong Kong) Trading Ltd, Hong Kong Smart Int Investment Ltd, and Allied King Industrial.
Wee, in the report, explained his role.
“At that time, on March 25, 2020, it was a critical moment. When that decision was made, we assisted because I saw it every time, every day, it was reported [in the news] that we wanted to purchase (the ventilators), but we didn’t know where to buy.
“At that time, I sought help from my friends in China, including China’s ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian, and I asked where to find them. His counsellor said, ‘Let’s try to see if we can get a contact’. At that time, there was no mention of Pharmaniaga yet.
“When we obtained the contact, I passed it on to the Health Ministry. I called Chen myself. It was not the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport (MOT) to initiate the process so we handed it over to Chen,” Wee said.
Chen mentioned above is former Health Ministry secretary general Chen Chaw Min.
No contractual agreement
The second issue is the absence of a contractual agreement between Pharmaniaga Logistics Sdn Bhd and Health Ministry.
Why wasn’t there an agreement as this was a big deal that has resulted in RM13 million in losses?
What was signed between Pharmaniaga and the Health Ministry falls short as it only outlines the roles of the company as a forwarding agent.
Who were the decision makers who finalised the machines and gave the green light for them?
Reading through the report, it feels as if the Health Ministry too washed off their hands on this issue since Health Ministry deputy secretary – general Norazman Ayob admitted that they were receiving products that was not what the government wanted.
“This is not an issue of Health Ministry facilities. (Instead), it is an issue of… we placed an order to get an apple, (but) we got something else,” Norazman said, in the report.
It was also revealed that this whole deal was not done with the approval of the ministry’s legal division.
Unfortunately the PAC did not name any parties as the culprits.
The Covid-19 patients who died after being treated with defective ventilators died in vain.