All HK-based firm wanted was to make kind gesture, says Yong Chee Kong, but he and his company’s name now being dragged through the mire
KOTA KINABALU : He is probably the most hunted and talked about person in Malaysia right now, at the centre of the controversy surrounding two million Covid-19 vaccine doses supposedly up for donation to Penang
The offer has since been dismissed by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin as bogus or a scam.
Speaking to The Vibes this evening, the man claiming to be Yong Chee Kong said his three handphones have been ringing non-stop since this morning.
He said journalists, police and ministry officials have been calling him and his parents’ house in Jalan Damai here, hoping to obtain Yong’s side of the story.
All Yong could say for now is that the offer to donate two million Sinovac vaccine doses to Penang was a kind gesture on the part of his Hong Kong-based boss.
Yong, 58, who hails from Tawau, works as an investor and spends most of his time abroad travelling to many countries, including Australia and Hong Kong, where his company, Xintai Enterprise Development Ltd, operates.
“I am a bit disappointed. My boss is very angry over the hype generated from this controversy.
“But there is nothing for me to fear as I am not lying,” Yong said.
Yong said it all began at the end of last year, when Sinovac had yet to be approved for use in Malaysia by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).
He said the offer was first made to the Sabah government, which would have benefitted the state’s 3.9 million-strong population.
“At that time, my boss wanted to invest in Malaysia, so a letter was written to the Chief Minister’s Office and its reply was that the Health Ministry had rejected the offer. This was because the Sinovac vaccine has not yet been approved.
“But we were told to write to the prime minister, which we did. The letter was passed to Khairy and was rejected, too,” said Yong, adding that the letter to the chief minister was written by his colleague.
After the rejections, Yong proposed that the firm approach the Penang government, an opposition state.
“Actually, our donation was already rejected by the federal government some months ago, as well as the Penang government. The letter to the Penang chief minister was dated February 1, 2021.
“But I don’t know why this is happening now,” he said.
Prior to the controversy, Yong said his boss had already decided that it did not matter if the donation was accepted or otherwise, as it could invest in another country.
But things went south when their offer was sensationalised, dragging his and the company’s name through the mire.
Yong said he is aware that the purchase of vaccines can only be done government-to-government, but his company did not want to hand out monies.
“We don’t know how the money will be used if we give out funds. It is much easier for my company to directly buy the vaccines from Sinovac,” he said, adding that his boss prefers to give the donations through vaccine procurement.
He said the only way for his company to acquire the vaccines was to obtain approval from Malaysia’s Health Ministry, which was rejected.
Yong said he had emailed Sinovac Biotech’s head of international sales, Coco Chang, twice, but to no avail.
“So, I contacted an agent to get the vaccines and all my conversations with him have already been sent to the Health Ministry,” he said.
Yong said most of the dealings were undertaken by his colleagues and not him.
It was not until yesterday that a special officer to Khairy contacted him, advising him on a number of issues, including possibly channelling funds instead to the ministry and holding a ceremony over the contributions.
However, Yong said the funds are in Hong Kong and that his employer is adamant about only donating vaccines, not money.
As an employee, Yong said he had to adhere to his boss’ instructions.
Yong, who said he has no affiliation to any political parties, refuses to reveal the identity of his boss, saying only that his employer and family members are upset by the negative publicity.
“Our point is just to donate this. I don’t understand why politicians make it so complicated,” he said.
Yong said he has engaged lawyers in the event the issue worsens, adding his colleagues are now sorting the issue out with Khairy’s officers.
“Let’s see what happens tomorrow. All I want now is to clear my name and my company’s name.
“Maybe an apology is in order, but we will see how it goes.”