Samling doing all it can in Covid-19 war


  • Nation
  • Friday, 29 May 2020

Yaw Teck Seng Foundation director Datuk Seri J.C. Fong (third from right), Deputy Chief Minister and State Disaster Management Committee chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah (centre), Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian (third from left) and Samling Group’s management team handing over the PCR machines and medical-grade protective body suits to Sarawak General Hospital.

LOVE and compassion, to quote the 14th Dalai Lama, “are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

This statement by the Tibetian spiritual leader has been the inspiration of Samling Group of Companies to give back to society, including its latest initiative in supporting the nation’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Covid-19 does not discriminate and every single person can become a potential victim, ” said Samling chief executive officer Lawrence Chia.

“This is the time for Malaysians to unite and lift each other’s spirits, regardless of race, religion and background, to at least ease the devastating effects of the pandemic

“Given the vast resources that we have, the least we could do is to provide relevant support to the frontliners as well as to aid affected communities.

“We have no intention to stop our initiatives anytime soon. We will carry on for as long as it takes, throughout this challenging period.”

Samling’s corporate social responsibility initiative started internally for the well-being of their 12,000 employees prior to the movement control order and has gradually been extended to not only areas where the company operates but almost covering the whole of Sarawak.

To-date, the Sarawak-based conglomerate has contributed more than three million masks, 9,000 sets of medical-grade protective body suits, 15 units of ventilators and four PCR machines, among other medical supplies.

Beneficiaries include the Home Ministry; government agencies and departments; police; fire and rescue department; various associations and non-governmental organisations such as Red Crescent Society; as well as over 100 medical institutions.

“We are very well aware of the shortage of medical essentials such as surgical masks, sanitisers and proper protective gear in the current situation, ” said Chia.

“As we were already sourcing for our employees, we decided to check on some of the medical institutions and found that all of them are facing crucial medical supply shortages.

“We felt it was imperative that we do our part and dedicate whatever resources we have to assist our Government with the shortages in healthcare.

“Owing to Samling’s strong network of 30 years in China, we are able to source, buy and deliver the in-demand supplies by setting up a small task force on site to source, inspect and purchase certified medical supplies in bulk before transporting it back to Malaysia, ” he added, assuring that all medical essentials purchased from China are manufactured to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards and have the CE marking.

Samling also donated a fully equipped laboratory to Miri General Hospital comprising an equivalent PCR testing unit together with supplemental lab equipment, in addition to other medical items.

With the molecular lab facility in place, Covid-19 test results can be delivered within 48 hours, compared to sending the test samples to Kuching.

Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching also received two PCR units, an autoclave steriliser, an RNA extractor and other medical accessories, while Bintulu Hospital received a Rapid PCR machine.

It was not all smooth-sailing in getting the medical supplies from China to Sarawak, resulting in a logistical ordeal.

Chia recalled a situation which he described as a nightmare – getting space on cargo planes when the supplies were loaded and unloaded three times with a delay of one week before the cargo could be flown here.

“That is not all. When the cargo arrived in Kuala Lumpur, we had logistics issues as well. As many of the Sarawak flights have been cancelled, it took some time for our supplies to be loaded.

“Upon arriving at Kuching, the cargo had to go on a 24-hour journey by land before reaching our team to repack for distribution to the beneficiaries, ” shared Chia.

Meanwhile, more than 20,000 packs of essential food packs comprising rice, sugar, cooking oil, flour, biscuit and noodles were distributed to the rural communities including over 400 villages and longhouses in Baram, Layun, Kuala Baram, Lawas, Tinjar regions of northern Sarawak and the Bintulu-Tatau region.

“Reaching out to those in remote and rural areas is challenging as the locations are only accessible via 4WD and longboat, ” said Samling chief operating officer James Ho.

“Thanks to our dedicated team, we managed to do as much as we had intended to with our very best to not leave anyone behind.”

Despite the challenges, Samling has been successfully distributing the essential items to its growing list of beneficiaries.

“Money is not a determining factor in our initiative. We share and feel empathy for the struggle of the communities during this difficult time, ” said Ho.

“It was not an easy task. We kept going when the going got tough. Thanks to our founder Tan Sri Yaw Teck Seng’s strong support, we were able to overcome all these obstacles.”

“This is not even the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Rather, this is the end of the beginning. We need to realise that we have a long road ahead of us, and each of us need to adapt to the new norm, ” concluded Chia.

Established in 1963, Samling has diverse businesses from forest resource management, oil palm plantation, infrastructure and construction to property development.

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