22 Dec 2005

Shame of Singapore

ON the NKF's website, the words 'The New' appear above the acronym 'NKF' - an effort to break away from an era of shame under former CEO T T Durai.

[Picture - NKF's new chairman Mr Gerard Ee.]
But truth be told, a little makeover is not enough.

So shocking are the revelations of the KPMG report, that the new team will be weighed down by the negative image for a long time. And donors will find it hard to mentally disconnect.

So why not change the name entirely?

The New Paper put the question to NKF's new chairman, Mr Gerard Ee.

On the name 'The New NKF', Mr Ee said: 'This is my effort to tell people to give us a chance and look at us anew. But when things die down and improve, I hope to go back to the original NKF, because I believe there is a lot of equity and value in that.

'Only if things get very bad will I consider a total name change and rebranding exercise. But so far, things have not got too bad.'

We beg to differ, Mr Ee.

It's as bad as it gets.

Singapore is reeling under the revelations of the KPMG report.

More might follow, if the Commercial Affairs Department finds criminal wrongdoing.

But nothing might be recovered from the over-the-top pay rises, bonuses and perks.

A lawyer, who declined to be named, told The New Paper: 'It doesn't seem to be evident, based on the KPMG report, that Mr Durai misappropriated any company funds.

'The contentious issue here seems more to be a problem of corporate governance and lack of controls.

'So unless you can prove that there is a clear case of embezzlement or criminal wrongdoing, it seems very little can be done to recover any money from the individual.'

Said the lawyer, who has had more than 10 years' experience dealing with white-collar crime: 'If you look at the report, it's really a story of a man who was given such power that he abused it.

'But there is no denying that his pay and perks were all approved by the NKF board of directors.

'It's not that he siphoned away company funds or donations.

'He did not doctor accounts or disperse money without authorisation.

'In other words, there is no evidence from this report that he broke the law.'

Mr Ee acknowledged that the pay and perks given to Mr Durai cannot be considered a 'loss to NKF'.

Said Mr Ee: 'When we talk about recovering loss, we are trying to get back the money that has been paid out to organisations outside the NKF.

'But we are currently seeking legal counsel to see what other areas we may want to consider getting back money from, and if it's even worth our while spending donors' money to do that.'

Said another lawyer with 15 years' experience, who also declined to be named: 'The best thing to do now is to wait for the outcome of the CAD (Commercial Affairs Department) investigations.'

The truth revealed by the KPMG report is indeed appalling. Clearly, Singaporeans want a closure to this national scandal. The good intentions of the public ended up in the pocket of one man. Let's not forget the plight of the patients who are hit worst. They find ways and means to raise funds for their dialysis only to realise that the organisation that they have place their very lives and trust in was the one that truly aggrieved their condition.

Whatever the outcome, I do hope that the well-being of the patients is the first priority of the government. This shame will probably take years to be erased. However, this does not mean that the sufferings of the patients should be erased because of an organisation's fault.

Even when the case is over, the patients still live to fight their illness everyday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The good intentions of the public ended up in the pocket of ONE MAN."

I highly doubt that Durai is the sole benefactor of this elaborate scheme of deceit. The cronyism extends well beyond the confines of nkf's middle, upper management and the Board. Looking at the way it operates and lobbies aggressively for its "causes", i wonder how many external parties like sponsors, partners (e.g. mediacorpse), regulators (?), vendors etc would have been tempted and succumbed to greed and profits.