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     Community Issues: NKF - Win back donors' trust

    NKF - Win back donors' trust

 

    - Key data of 100 Singapore charities to be listed on MOH Website

     - KPMG submits its report on NKF to the new NKF Board

     - Responses to KPMG report on NKF

     - Petition: National Kidney Foundation Singapore Responsibility

     - New Board and CEO for National Kidney Foundation (NKF)

     - Police advisory on NKF suit

     - New NKF Board appointed

     - NKF - Investigations into allegations

 

Excerpt of letter by Ho Ching (Ms) to the Forum Page of The Straits Times of 18 Jul 2005

"I write in my personal capacity...

"I am a long-time admirer of the National Kidney Foundation...

"I would like to recommend that the NKF considers building and managing its reserves as an endowment. It also needs a sufficient buffer to weather a deep recession. Perhaps, this was what it had been trying to do. Perhaps the prolonged years of difficulties during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s and the earlier brink of the 1985 recession had spurred the frenetic pace of fund-raising in recent years. But this funding model needs to be properly modelled, analysed and communicated.

"To the NKF I would like to say, when you complete your review and put together your plans, do share them. I am sure many Singaporeans and many others share a chord of sympathy for your cause.

"On the issue of CEO pay, I believe that even charities ought to be managed professionally. How else can we expect high-quality and impactful services, including specialist education and therapy support, to those in need?...

"True, there will be volunteers, much admired and respected, with independent means who can help charities without having to take a single cent in salary. There are also others, much loved and lauded, who for religious reasons or perhaps in memory of a parent, child or friend, would give selfless service to others...

"But we should not then believe that all those involved in charitable causes should in turn be charitable cases themselves...

"Whatever their faults and foibles, the volunteers, staff and professionals in our VWOs have collectively given hope to many among us, and made this island a better place. In turn, I hope Singaporeans and my fellow men will join me too in supporting them, and show them our generosity and warmth of the human spirit.

"Many drops an ocean make, and many hands will lighten the load. On my part, I will continue to donate to the NKF and other favourite charities."

 

Excerpt of article, The taxman checks NKF's books, by Sarah Ng in The Straits Times of 17 Jul 2005 (3)

"The taxman is looking at the National Kidney Foundation's books over the weekend...

"When contacted, Mr Gerard Ee, president of the National Council of Social Service, and the incoming interim chairman of NKF, said the foundation informed him yesterday of the presence of Iras officers at its premises.

" 'I understand that they are looking at their records,' he said..."

 

Interim Chairman of NKF

At the invitation of the Minister for Health, Mr Gerard Ee, President of the National Council of Social Services (NCSS), has agreed to serve as the interim Chairman for the National Kidney Foundation.
Mr Ee is a well-known, respected figure, particularly in charity work. Under his leadership at the NCSS, there has been improved accountability and transparency of VWOs through the launch of the Code of Governance and Management for VWOs in July 2003. He provided leadership for strengthening the service through setting up the Social Service Training Institute (SSTI). Mr Ee is currently a member at several other public boards and councils, testifying to his public standing (CV of Mr Ee attached).
During this period of transition, the Minister has also asked the Commissioner of Charities to assist in the process.

Mr Gerard Ee's CV

Gerard Ee was born in Singapore in 1949. He is married with two children, a boy who is 12 and a girl who is 10. In 1972 Gerard became a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. He served full-time in the Singapore Armed Forces for two and half years to discharge his national service obligations. In 1974 he started his career as an accountant. In 1976 he became a practicing auditor and on 30 June 2005, Gerard retired as a partner of the International firm, Ernst & Young.
Gerard has been active in the field of social service throughout his professional life as an accountant. He helped convert a programme from providing respite care into the Assisi Home and Hospice in 1987 and was its Chairman until 2002. In 1989 he established Bizlink Centre, an employment programme for the disabled, and was its Chairman until 1992. He has chaired a whole range of social service organizations and programmes which include juvenile rehabilitative centres, grassroots organizations, schools, and various programmes for the elderly and youth. He was also an active member of the Task Force which established the Code on Religious Harmony.
Apart from being a member of the National Medical Ethics Committee, he is the President of the National Council of Social Service. As a Justice of the Peace, Gerard visits the prisons and conducts criminal procedure mediation sessions. He is also a member of the Governing Council of the Singapore Institute of Management.
Source: www.moh.gov.sg Press Release 15 Jul 2005

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Vandalism At NKF Building, Kim Keat Road

On 13 Jul 2005 at 5.20am , Police received a call from the building manager of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Headquarters located at No 81 Kim Keat Road. She reported that the external perimeter walls facing Kim Keat Road have been sprayed with writings. The graffiti, which were in red spray paint, were in English and Mandarin.
The case has been classified as vandalism and investigations are ongoing.
Members of the public who have information on this case are requested to contact the Police Hotline at 1800-2550000.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
1
3 July 2005 @ 8.30 pm
Source: www.spf.gov.sg Media Release 13 Jul 2005

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Excerpt of article, Explain The Maths To Win Back Donors' Trust, by Bertha Henson in The Straits Times of 14 Jul 2005 (22)

"...Judging by the hundreds of e-mail messages, letters and phone calls that have flooded The Straits Times since Monday, donors are upset by the size of Mr Durai's salary and bonuses and his travel perks...

"What many ordinary people know of the NKF are its heart-rending fliers, the plaintive pleas by its telemarketers and watching sick children on television.

"They remember digging into their pockets to give.

"Now, they are asking: Giving to whom?

"What is clear from the expressions of outrage is this message to the NKF: Our generosity is for your patients. It is not a key performance indicator to determine the amount of bonuses your CEO deserves...

"The NKF makes it clear that it has done nothing to breach regulatory rules.

"That is correct.

"But what has been breached is the public trust..."

 

Excerpt of article, Don't Tar All Charities With NKF Brush, by Chua Lee Hoong in The Straits Times of 14 Jul 2005 (22)

"...In recent years, as if on some manic quest to reach some unpublished fund-raising goal, the NKF's fund-raising shows have multiplied. But the number of kidney patients has not grown by the same amount.

"The Singapore Government accumulates reserves for good reason: One currency crisis and billions can be wiped out. But the crises that a kidney dialysis voluntary welfare organisation (VWO) may face do not eat up resources anywhere near that scale.

"Meanwhile, other VWOs feel the pinch...

"A lot of cleaning up is needed at the NKF. For Singaporeans, remember: Other charities still need your support."

 

Excerpt of letter by Elaine Toh-Tan Yee Lin (Ms) to the Forum Page of The Straits Times of 14 Jul 2005

"...I was appalled because for a charity organisation which ought to have prudent management as its top priority so that kidney patients receive as much financial aid as possible from the public, it has abused our trust and faith by its extravagance and a misguided notion that money raised in the name of charity could therefore be used on gold-plated taps and the luxury of flying First Class.

"Aren't gold-plated taps for royalty? Aren't First Class air travel a lifestyle statement and a status symbol for the rich and famous?

"I was utterly disgusted because the generosity of our nation in times of hardship and uncertainty has been exploited to finance half a million dollars in performance bonuses.

"If, indeed, the total donations were at an all-time high, they were an indication of an outpouring of sympathy in times of crisis, a sign of solidarity in times of adversity.

"And it saddens me to know that all the tightening of purse strings, so that we could give a few dollars more, was done so that one man could benefit with his pay effectively doubled. If that is not exploitation of our kindness and generosity, I don't know what it is...

"There is no smoke without fire. And the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is not going to put out the fire by suing anyone who has reported the smoke or by appealing to a conspiracy theory...

"Am I going to be sued now, NKF, for speaking my mind?"

 

Excerpt of letter by Ng Hsueh Mei (Mdm) to the Forum Page of The Straits Times of 14 Jul 2005

"...I can think of no other situation in which the English proverb, 'There is no smoke without fire', can be more aptly applied.

"For years, as rumours of inappropriate management of public donations spread, the public's trust and scepticism of NKF has grown. One wonders how all the millions of dollars collected during aggressive charity drives are spent...

"Kudos goes to senior correspondent Susan Long for her journalistic integrity and bravery, for discharging her duty to the public by reporting on the controversies surrounding NKF in April last year, despite the risk of facing a lawsuit.

"The image of NKF has been tarnished irrevocably by Mr Durai. The best thing he can do now is to resign."

 

Excerpt of letter by Lim Lee Theng (Ms) to the Forum Page of The Straits Times of 14 Jul 2005

"...I am a teacher and I encourage my students to help the less fortunate whenever they can. And when the flag day for NKF comes around, they know that their efforts will go towards helping a lot of people.

"Now that they are aware that such a large portion of the donations they collect is going or has gone into a $600,000 pay package for the chief executive, how will they ever believe the claims made by NKF again?...

 

Excerpt of letter by Lim Ching Zhu to the Forum Page of The Straits Times of 14 Jul 2005

"I cannot understand how the chief of a charitable organisation can not feel ashamed of himself when he said a $990 tap is not expensive...

"How can the chief of a charitable organisation be flying First Class using money for charity and still have the cheek to say that it is his privilege? Where is this man's conscience?

"I also cannot understand how he could sue people using the charity's name when he indeed had a $990 tap, travelled in First Class and received top CEO salary."

 

Excerpt of letter by Steffen Toh Hai Chew to the Forum Page of The Straits Times of 14 Jul 2005

"...The main principle behind NKF's ceaseless efforts to raise more funds despite having coffers overflowing with reserves of $189 million, it would have us believe, is that every cent counts...

"In fact, NKF has a donation programme called Lifedrops, of which I am a participant, that allows donors to pledge a small monthly amount to its cause. The latest revelations have left me feeling a little like a fool.

"How many "Lifedrops", may I ask, were allowed to dribble away to fund Mr Durai's 12-month performance bonus in 2003? At the minimum sum of $5 a month, one "Lifedrop" amounts to $60 a year. Mr Durai's bonus, at $25,000 for 12 months, comes up to $300,000. This means that approximately 5,000 well-meaning contributors like myself have done absolutely nothing to help kidney patients with our donations.

"Yet, the victims at the centre of all this are not us, but the kidney patients. If there is a backlash, and there surely will be one, they will be the ones who will suffer, NKF's reserves notwithstanding...

"We may feel more than a little betrayed by NKF, but let us not betray the kidney patients. Two wrongs do not make a right."

 

     - Responses to KPMG report on NKF

     - Petition: National Kidney Foundation Singapore Responsibility

     - New Board and CEO for National Kidney Foundation (NKF)

     - Police advisory on NKF suit