It’s been piercing hot past the 32 degree Celsius mark in Buffalo, NY for the past few days, making me feel quite uncomfortable even though I come from warm tropical Singapore. Likewise, prominent events have taken place back home which just like the weather, I’ve little control over.
My friend Nelson sighed, “Poor Zoe Tay… she had to do bone breaking stunts in NKF tele-thons for nothing… if you don’t pity the kidney patients, at least pity Zoe Tay.”
It’s hard to avoid a big bullshit on the information superhighway… like hitting a deer, it’s better to go full speed and hope the splatter goes over and behind you than to go slow and end up smashing your windscreen. Hitting the top of the technorati charts just yesterday, the “National Kidney Foundation” drama plays at a computer screen near you. Every other popular Singapore blogger has already addressed it, yet as a true
blue red & white blooded Singapore, it is my duty to follow likewise, subserviently without any hint of subversion (ok, maybe a little) to talk about the public outcry at the “misappropriate management of funds” by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).
There’s a lot of B.S. going on… which can be seen here from a wonderfully produced timeline of events. From the national newspaper first reporting the incident, to the newspaper (Singapore Press Holdings) being sued for defamation by NKF’s CEO T.T. Durai, to public outcry to NKF’s ridiculous use of funds, to finally the CEO’s defamation retraction and subsequent resignation.
Durai was a guy who was paid up to S$600,000 (US$350,000) annually and took first-class flights while working for the so-called charity organization. Furthermore, Davinder Singh, the lawyer acting for the Straits Times, alleged that the NKF was misleading the public since it claimed it was treating more patients than it had, while its reserves of S$220m were adequate to help kidney patients for decades, instead of three years as NKF claimed.
That’s not the bad news is it?
I’m sure we all know there’s much more to it. My personal opinion (which is share by a few I talked to) is that Durai was but a “fall guy”, a scapegoat of a bigger case of public fraud. If you look at the NKF board of members, you’ll see some political heavyweights in there… ’nuff said. In fact, I wanted to deeper in a second podcast to address NKF conspiracy theories, but after chatting with a few other Singapore bloggers online, the idea seemed unpopular (so what’s new… I’m not famous). Two cited reasons: It’ll fall on deaf ears. Also, given the ease in which defamatory suits are filed in Singapore, even though I am in the United States, it isn’t worth pursuing such matters altogether. As with the Acid Flask incident, anything can happen. As such, it ends here… sadly, because no one dares to say anything. Even listening to the Acid Flask Interview might have been viewed as dangerous to some (as seen in the little comments that article received).
On a lighter note, an awesome textbook example of public relations was executed by the CEO of another major Singapore organization (which is actually for profit). The CEO of NTUC Income, Mr. Tan Kin Lian, addressed the issue of how much he was getting paid in a timely yet candid fashion on his blog (yes, it’s cool that’s he’s really representin’ his corporate homies). Commenter Tony Hamil reminds us that NTUC Income is part of a Coop, benefit for coop member outweigh self benefit. Kudos to humble Mr. Tan, who definitely doesn’t disappoint…
I will give a hint. I earn less than 50% of CEOs of large listed companies that are reported regularly in the newspapers. I wish to state the following:
– I fly by economy class, including long distance travel
– I drive a 8 year old Mercedes E200 and will keep it for a few more years.
If only all CEOs were this open yet transparent for the benefit of their public.