Cloth maker denies conflict of interest in mask deal - RTHK
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Cloth maker denies conflict of interest in mask deal

2020-05-09 HKT 22:56
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  • The reusable masks that government is planning to give away is now caught in another controversy. Photo: RTHK
    The reusable masks that government is planning to give away is now caught in another controversy. Photo: RTHK
A clothing manufacturer on Saturday evening rejected concerns about conflict of interests over the sale of material needed for reusable face masks after it was revealed that a top official was linked to the firm.

This came after officials said that a supplier of gauze needed for the mask was Esquel Group. The company lists Teresa Yang, the head of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel, as its vice president.

The institute is a publicly funded organisation that developed the reusable masks. The Hong Kong government is planning to supply millions of masks free to the people from next month.

Esquel said Yang was not involved in the discussion and decision in relation to the development and production of the masks as well as the supply of raw materials.

The company revealed that it sold 450,000 yards (over 400,000 metres) of gauze at a “cost price” of HK$3.8 million to the research institute for the production of the masks.

“The research institute contacted the sales department of Esquel directly and said it encountered great difficulties in sourcing materials for the production of the masks, the statement said.

“Esquel decided to supply the gauze at cost price to help the institute provide the masks to the Hong Kong public as early as possible,” it said.

The statement said Yang declared her interests at a board meeting of the institute at the end of February that Esquel is involved in the mask-making project.

The lack of information about the producers of the millions of masks was criticised by some people, including a pro-government lawmaker and officials later said they could have handled things more transparently.

The look of the new masks, which the officials say can be washed for about 60 times, also also attracted ridicule on the social media with some people saying it resembles underwear than face masks.