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Monday, November 20, 2023

Faulty ventilators: Adham should be held responsible, says Kampar MP


PARLIAMENT | Kampar MP Chong Zhemin today called on Parliament to take action against former health minister Dr Adham Baba over faulty ventilators procured by the government in 2020.

In his speech at the Dewan Rakyat, Chong (Pakatan Harapan-Kampar) said Adham should be held responsible as he was the minister in charge at the time.

The DAP representative also criticised the then-Perikatan Nasional administration for having its then-transport minister Wee Ka Siong handle negotiation for the ventilators, instead of Adham.

"Where is the accountability in this case? Who was the person who gave the final authority, the final approval (for procurement of the ventilators)?

"This person should be held responsible. And to me, it is none other than PN's health minister Adham Baba.

"He was the minister in charge. It doesn't matter that Ayer Hitam (Wee) did the negotiation or found the trading company because the final approval has to come from the health minister, so he has to be responsible.

"I hope Parliament can take action. Because this did not (only) involve money, but also people's lives," Chong said.

Kampar MP Chong Zhemin

He was debating the Budget Bill 2024 at the committee stage for the Health Ministry.

In his speech, Chong criticised the then-PN administration over its handling of the ventilator purchase.

He cited the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee's latest findings on government Covid-19 pandemic procurements, which stated that Wee played a role in the negotiation for the ventilators.

"How come the transport minister negotiated contracts for the health minister? What kind of procedure is this? Cannot be.

"And then, the purchase was made after the negotiations, but not directly from manufacturers. Instead, the ventilators were ordered from a trading company, an Ali Baba company," Chong told the Dewan Rakyat.

Former health minister Dr Adham Baba

Meanwhile, the Kampar MP also took a swipe at Wee in his debate.

Chong said Wee should also take some responsibility for the scandal by informing his supporters that the ventilators he helped order could not be used.

"When the ventilators arrived (in Malaysia), Ayer Hitam posted about it on Facebook telling the people that he helped bring back the machines.

"He took the credit then. So now, when 70 or 80 percent of the ventilators were faulty, he should also inform his followers.

"He should update (on social media) that the ventilators were faulty and could not be used to save lives," Chong said.

In the PAC report published last month, the committee detailed its findings on government spending on Covid-19 management during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

They include details from investigation and hearing into the purchase of 136 ventilators for a price tag of RM20.1 million, of which 104 could not be used.

However, due to the absence of a signed contractual agreement between the ministry and Pharmaniaga Bhd, which made upfront payments for the ventilators, PAC said no one could be held responsible for the blunder.

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