Questions are being raised about the mystery identity of the company that is making the reusable masks being distributed by the government and why the administration did not carry out a regular tender process to select the firm.
This comes after the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Alfred Sit, said the government did not disclose the manufacturer's name and other details in order to prevent competitors from outbidding it for raw materials.
Liberal Party leader Felix Chung said although this allows for faster production, the government choosing not to disclose the manufacturer's name gives an impression that there were underhand deals involved.
Chung said that because a large amount of money was involved, he thinks the government should provide more information to the public about where the masks came from, once the outbreak eases.
He said that the authorities had never informed him about the production of reusable masks.
Chung's concerns were also echoed by Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki.
"This can be the first example that the government deviates from the ordinary way of doing proper administrative procedures, which allows the public to inspect [and] supervise the whole purchasing policy," Kwok said.
Online rumours soon ran rampant, with some saying the new masks were being made by a firm controlled by the family of Legco president Andrew Leung.
Leung on Wednesday evening issued a statement dismissing such claims, saying his family’s Sun Hing Knitting Factory does not manufacture any masks, including the reusable ‘CuMasks’.
The statement also said Leung’s brother is a director of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel – which had helped develop the masks.
A separate statement from the Innovation and Technology Bureau also sought to dispel the online rumours, saying neither Sun Hing or the Nan Fung Group is the manufacturer.
A spokesman added that firm had the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel is handling “the procurement of raw materials, coordination of production, sterilisation and packaging of the CuMask… in order to have the masks ready for distribution to the public as soon as possible.”
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the government had set aside HK$800 million as part of its anti-epidemic fund to subsidise the development of reusable masks.
More than a million people have applied online for the free masks since registration opened on Wednesday morning.
Last updated: 2020-05-06 HKT 21:47
Questions raised over identity of mask producer
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