14 Jan 2006

SDP Forum Questions Government’s role in NKF Scandal and highlights issues of Transparency and Accountability in the Bureaucracy

A Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) forum highlighted the government’s role in the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Scandal; as well as transparency and accountability issues clouding statutory boards and Government Investment Company (GICs).

The event at Hotel Phoenix, Rose Room, on 13 January, 7 pm which attracted about 80 people lasted approximately two and a half hours.

The three speakers, in chronological order are Ms Chee Siok Chin, an SDP member; Mr M Ravi, a human rights lawyer and civil rights activist and Dr Chee Soon Juan, the secretary general of SDP.

MS Chee, who is also the moderator of the forum and one of the protestors outside the CPF building last year explained the purpose of the demonstration and the court actions taken afterwards. She went on to describe how other governmental various bodies such as GICs, HDBs and CPF are non-transparent by refusing to disclose their financial statements.

Her highlight of the speech was however targeted at the judiciary when V.K Raja released, in a 40 page report on the protestors’ originating motion, vigorously defended the public institutions instead of their freedoms to assemble that was protected under the Constitution.

Mr M Ravi delivered a humorous speech peppered with innuendoes and local slangs on how Singapore lawyers are cowed by fear. He also talked about the separation of powers and the need for a parliament with a strong opposition.

He went on to mention an impending case in Canada whereby EnerNorth Industries Inc., a Toronto-based energy services company will appeal before the Ontario Court of Appeal in April, in a bid to avoid paying a $5.4-million US judgment awarded to Oakwell Engineering Ltd., a Singapore firm. The company argued that Singapore justice system is corrupt and unlawful. Ravi explained that the results of the trial would have serious repercussions on the business community in Singapore.

Dr Chee who was the last speaker of the forum presented the audience with convincing evidence of warning signs on NKF such as volunteers’ complaints, questions by NMP Braema Mathi, letters to press by the public and NCSS revoking NKF IPC status. The ministers had however, prior to the scandal, publicly supported the NKF. His presentation effectively summed up the topic of the forum.

Related Links:
'Corrupt' ruling appealed, Ont. energy firm challenges $5.4M judgment, Canada.com
Judiciary steps into politics with decision on protests, SDP Media Release, 11 Dec 2005


Anonymous said...

SDP just shot itself in the foot. Who are they trying to fooi? Come on, where was SDP before the NKF scandal. Were they the ones asking questioning NKF's finances?

After the matter blow up, they now try to SCORE POINTS. It is so obvious.

While there is some embarassment that the PAP govt did not pick up the NKF problems earlier, the govt subsequent handling and investigation is quite exemplary - remember the govt also have to avoid damaging the NKF completely because there are good honest people nurses, doctors,etc working there not to mention the patients. Durai will be made to pay in time.

Sure Ho Ching, Mrs Goh and a couple of health ministers were fooled. So were millions of Singaporeans who donated every month. Its a lesson for all of us.

SDP can use it to argue for more transparency. But to make pin blame on the govt for its "role" in the whole affair is hindsighted and shows more SDP's eagerness to score political points using this issue.

I believe most Singaporeans are not fooled by SDP....and treating the people as fools don't win support. That is why Chee doesn't get support.

Anonymous said...

"I believe most Singaporeans are not fooled by SDP."

Most S'poreans are not fooled by the PAP. They are just fearful of the gangsterism and white-terror tactics.

Anonymous said...

yes, i agree with anonymous 10.09am - a "state terror" to control people!

sglaksa said...

I agree with Anonymous No 1. The SDP is trying to turn this into a political issue... Singaporeans are unhappy over the NKF saga, but they won't, because of the SDP turning it into a political topic, vote for the SDP. The SDP should try figuring out which issues most Singaporeans are more concerned with instead of what 'democracy', 'transparency' etc.

Anonymous said...

both comments are valid; scoring some points takes little effort, but long term viability of opposition requires them to show they have better ideas, better rapport with people; so far they have failed to do their homework

SKL said...

Anonymous No 1 has just shot him/herself in the foot. Who is he/she trying to fool? Come on, how on earth does anyone find out NKF's finances when there is no transparency. I wonder how many more such organisations are operating under the same environment as NKF? If asked, I wonder if those in authority will release for public scrutiny?

In a democratic society (which Singapore claimed to be one), all scandals are debated in public domain. It is not unsual for political party to lead the way and identity those in control be held responsible. I believe that Anonymous No 1 is politically affiliated otherwise he/she will not have mentioned his/her support for a politic party.

Of course, the government is embarassed, NKF is under their jurisdiction. Any government worth their salt will conduct an investigation. Is that exemplary? I would classify them as exemplary, if they have done so when the first whistle-blower exposed NKF to the public. Instead of doing so, they allowed the innocent to be sued. I will be watching whether the government has the courtesy to compensated these victims.

I totally agree with you, those responsible should be made to pay. In many reputable charity organisations, 80% of the funds go to the source (that is efficent). I believe that the whole Board and the senior executives should be sued for the shortfall. Singapore prides itself to be clean and efficent- that is not to much to ask for. In fact it should be more for tarnishing its good name. I don't think is too much based on the fact that $600,000 is 'peanuts' to these people.

To suggest that those individuals and ministers can be fooled, does not put their capabilities in good light - I rather not mentioned it. To the Singaporeans who contributed, asked for transparency otherwise you may be made a fool,the second time round.

I hope the government lives up to its image as Clean, Efficient and Law abiding. Remember 'Words' and 'Actions' must tally to earn its integrity.

I am sorry and sad to say that I found most Singaporeans as followers consumed by 'conformity','fear' and 'material' that they just do not know what life is all about.

Good Luck.

sglaksa said...

"I am sorry and sad to say that I found most Singaporeans as followers consumed by 'conformity','fear' and 'material' that they just do not know what life is all about"

Life? Each person has his different perspect on life. Who are you to say that you are "sorry and sad" that Singaporeans do not know what is life? Look around you and see the buzz - coffee shops, shopping centres, schools, community centres etc. That is life.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder how many more such organisations are operating under the same environment as NKF? If asked, I wonder if those in authority will release for public scrutiny?" - skl

Just take City Harvest and Ren Ci for a start. Notice soon after the NKF scandal broke, the pastor and the monk quickly dropped their salaried status. They are now "volunteers". Running scared? Your guess is as good as mine. LOL

Anonymous said...

Even if the monk, Ven Mingyi, were to take any salary, his salary would not be as high as $60,000 plus one month bonus every month.
He is sincere in what he is doing. No doubt about his dedication to Renci Hospital.

Anonymous said...

Moreover, "status" does not mean anything to a monk! Ven Mingyi lives simply. For your info, he takes his meal at $2.50 at the foodcourt.

Anonymous said...

One can see for oneself. Ven takes on the responsibility to take good care of those terminally-illed patients, who are either destitutes or those from the poor families. Who would want to risk their life like him to perform during the charity show for the sake of others? To climb like a spiderman at the Raffles Tower on the first charity show and this time to walk on two narrow planks as well as single rounded rod at the 66th storey high of the Republic Bldg. And especially these performances were done at the time when the weather was very wet and windy.

Anonymous said...

Ven also disclosed that Renci Hospital has been under the scrutiny of the MOH because the hospital does receive some small funding from MOH.

He also guaranteed that whatever fund received from donors, at least 70% would be used directly for the patients. The hospital is transparent. One can check their accounts from the website.

Anonymous said...

I guess SDP's tactics for this coming election is on this transparency issue again. They have no new Ideas?

In the business world some things are better not to be in the open.

mister k said...

i think the NKF issue has educated Singaporeans to not donate blindly. these days, the transparency issue is somehow a prerequisite especially when money is concerned. in regard to Ven Mingyi, personally i feel that it was a most commendable feat. he sought to raise funds by example.

looking at SDP's forum, one cannot help but to think that they are turning it to a political issue. perhaps it is time someone asks the SDP to be transparent on their agenda too.