Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Another Singapore Charity Scandal!

There seems to be many parallels between the latest Youth Challenge scandal and NKF. Wonder how they end up with the same wrong ideas:

1. High Salaries. The CEOs of these charities who are suppose to serve the public seem to think it is alright to pay themselves hundreds of thousands of $ per year. The Youth Challenge CEO was paid a total of $243K last year and Durai $600K. There is this widespread belief that high pay = high performance in Singapore, maybe these charity heads just wanted to improve their own performance by paying themselves more.
2. No Check & Balance. Once in power these charity heads got rid of all check and balance in their organisations so they have free rein without anyone opposing them.
3. Milking the people they were suppose to serve. Durai seems to have no qualms about exploiting the kidney patients using them to extract sympathy from the public...charging them higher than necessary fees etc.

These charities operated for years without problems being fact they regularly won alot praise for their activities.

Youth Challenge found lacking in transparency, corporate governance

January 2007 1626 hrs

SINGAPORE : Local charity Youth Challenge has been found to have many irregularities and lacking in governance, management and financial controls. The Commissioner of Charities, which comes under the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, revealed this after completing an inquiry on the organisation, following a complaint last year. The probe on Youth Challenge started in August last year after some students blew the whistle on its practices. The COC investigation revealed the organisation lacked transparency and had been giving
misleading information on the remuneration of its Executive President Vincent Lam.
The key findings - Lam's total annual remuneration of $248,867 which ended last year, was more than half of total donations and other income earned by the charity. The COC said Lam was paid various benefits and allowances, well above civil service and charity sector norms. No system of annual performance evaluation was in place. Youth Challenge also allowed blank cheques to be pre-signed by signatories. Also of grave concern was the fact that Lam was able to transact electronic payments, including his salary, without a second level of approval. Lam has resigned from his post on Monday. And now, operations at the Youth Challenge are continuing as normal. But in a statement, the Youth Challenge President Looi Teck Kheong said all humanitarian programmes will proceed as planned. The new management committee, which has been running the charity since October last year, notes that the inquiry results reveal no misappropriation of public funds. It says it values the COC's inputs and will implement the necessary changes and recommendations.
The COC has given the committee six months to rectify breaches and weaknesses in the governance and management of the charity. In reply to queries from Channel NewsAsia, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore says it will review the past income tax declarations of Vincent Lam after it receives details of his income, benefits and allowances from the COC. If Lam had under-declared or filed an incorrect tax return, appropriate action will be taken against him under the Income Tax Act. If convicted, he faces a penalty of up to twice the amount of tax undercharged, a fine or jail term. - CNA /ls


Anonymous said...

The CEOs of NKF and YC never properly learnt the democratic way of raising pays. The proper way should be call a meeting to raise everyone's pay first. Then get them to propose and vote a hefty increase for himself. Just him only.
scratching ...

Anonymous said...

love is is love. organisations that deal with "charity" should be sensitive with "offerings".
we only need three decent meals a day to live. in fact, luxuries become vulgar to those who are truly called to serve because, they will not find in themselves to live the "rich life" when many under them are struggling to make ends meet. these leaders prefer to identify with the regular donors who are basically your regular working class, not some rich businessmen/ rich public servants/celebrities da da da...
in any case, scandals usually follow unjustifiable huge amount of public funded remuneration. the right people for the job usually have their "treasures" rightly located!

chipazoid said...

I've read some of your posts in your blog. I'm glad I found it, and I'll probably read it religiously now. Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

The rot starts at the top. This is nothing surprising when leaders of the country set such good examples for the citizens to follow. This is the culture of Singapore Inc so please do not be alarmed.

Anonymous said...

To those who envy the high pay earners, ask yourself what are the alternatives to retaining good talent .

Anonymous said...

To those spouting nonsense like the one above, talents like Vincent Lam, we can do without.

Likewise for those idiots sitting at the parliament too.

Pure suckers with leeching as their only talent.

Anonymous said...

if Lam deserves more than 200K a year, I would say that Durex deserves 6,000,000 a year... looking at the difference in their scale of operations... haha

Anonymous said...

if the love of money is the root of ALL evil, the lure of more money as incentive must then be the seed of evil?

Anonymous said...

“Millions of innocent people have been sacrificed! While you the leaders of the Party, got rich at the people’s expense! You’ve amassed incredible wealth! You’ve stolen estates, built castles for yourselves and betrayed and oppressed your own people! Our ideals, our morals, our beliefs, our soul … you’ve dragged through the mud! Your never-ending greed for power …”

General Wilhelm Burgdorf (1895 – 1945)
German Wehrmacht

Andrew L said...

Following a year as a UK exchange student at NUS I was a volunteer for youth challenge in the summer of 2004.
As a finance major I quickly voiced concerns with the lax manner in with Lam ran the charities cashflow but was fervently shouted down by naive and doting peers who blindly raised money that poured into Lam's coiffers.

Had I not myself at the time been blindly in love with one of charity's 'poster girls'I might have biten the bullet in outing this ugly fraudster.

As it was I flogged myself for 12 hour days raising around $S15000 for the charity as well as helping out with their eldercare programme on the promise that I would attend a 'UN affiliated' Humanitarian AIDS expedition to Botswana.

Needless to say this expedition failed to materialise. I again voiced my concerns more actively. Where did all the money raised by about 15 volunteers (225K++) go?

Surely it can't all have gone on rent for the unnecessarily exclusive raffles place office, or Lam's sport cars and nights out courting the charity's benefactors....!

No... much to my disgust it went straight into lining Lams pockets.

I'm not generally a man to hold grudges but in this instance it is with a dubious pleasure that I witness the disgraceful and humiliating downfall of this pathetic excuse of a man.

In the UK Lam would almost certainly be indicted and thrown into prison for his behaviour. I can only hope the Singaporean Justice system executes this case in the same manner.

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