Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Today's front page of the Straits Times carries the "dirt" on the NKF-SPH fight.

NKF's CEO TT Durai flies first class (upgrading his business class tickets) and has gold-plated fittings in his private bathroom in the NKF office.

SPH's lawyer Davinder Singh is one kind of Tekan King. He asks TT Durai if $990 for a tap is expensive. TT Durai says depends on the place. Singh asks For the man who earns $1000 who give $50 to NKF, is it expensive?

One kind of happening tekan. Sure win all the debate championships type.

But the true question in this whole "lawsuit turned inquest" is: do organisations that set out to do good, as NKF doubtlessly had many years ago, have any right to run themselves like a business entity/corporation?

One of my buddies worked for Mr Durai for 3 years. She had nothing but good things to say about him as a visionary and a boss. The idea of running a body that solicits public funds to help the less fortunate, but running it to make profits, sounds good to a businessperson, and lowest-of-the-low to the rest of mankind.

She said it was tough to get into his vision, because it went against what she grew up believing, that if you do good, there should be nothing in it for you. But to understudy his thinking, to create money as a business, she learned a lot.

It must be said that NKF doesn't get all its money from the $1000-earner in the street. Other business deals, investments etc, I'm sure that would make the bulk of their earnings, hence the reserve. (So, you and I ask, why beg for money from those who have little? And why do an NKF Charity show?)

However, I wonder if it would not be ideal if do-gooders were able to make a decent (okay, not $25,000 + 12 months bonus) income from running a tight ship that got things done. Looking at NKF, for all the $189 million they have in reserves, have they done a lot for those suffering from kidney failure? I think they did a more than decent job with all the dialysis centres they set up, awareness campaigns that they run.

(I do not agree with them encroaching on the cancer turf, though.)

My belief is that fundraising must go hand in hand with business smarts, in any NGO. While WMD is very young and the money we want to give away is completely from the public, the startup was self-funded. It's not an ideal situation — if as the founders we had proper funding we could do a lot more. If we could provide a service or a product for other businesses to take up, it would help to fund our good works.

But I also believe in staying transparent and accountable, so once the T-shirt drive is over our supporters will be able to see how much we collected, how much we spent on what, and how much reached the shelters.

I don't think NKF set out to be a villain. I still believe that they have done a lot for the less fortunate. I hope that this Slap on the Wrist will help them to get back on track. Restitution must be made after this to assuage public outrage. But I hope the fallout's not so great that we destroy what is otherwise a great model for charities to follow.

PS While we were trying to get stars to endorse our pink WMD T-shirt, I tried to get Fann Wong (whom I like very much and think is a great flagbearer for our country). Her management said they would give me a discounted rate of


for her to appear in our T-shirt in a poster that would only go out online and in the shops.

I said for $7000 I would have to stand in the street corner and hawk 200 T-shirts just to pay these bloodthirsty sharks. None of that money would go to the shelter.

The reply was, "You know how many charities ask her to do this kind of thing or not?" My guess is a lot. So they must have made a lot of money by now.

As if charging charities is going to help the situation. Oh maybe it did, because I just said thank you and hung up. Her management either didn't get what I was saying, or they didn't give a flying pig's arse.

THAT to me, is far worse than NKF's first class tickets to anywhere.


Blogger llch01 said...

Well said, esp. on the second(Fann Wong) part.

3:13 PM

Blogger lancerlord said...

I guess when your donation drive gets bigger, people will start to probe; especially when the money is in the millions.

To that organistaion, they've tried hard to be transparent but to other people's eye, it wasn't transparent enough. Tough!

3:16 PM

Blogger A said...

re your friend's experience at NKF - you may have to speak to a few more people on their management policies. i know of two who left after a few months (before the bond period kicked in), and one who can't leave because of the bond.

i guess what the public would like to have from NKF is this - a certain amount of transparency. and reasonability I suppose. but they seem to have violated the public's trust. gold plated taps in a CEO's private bathroom does not fall into reasonability standards. flying first class? perhaps justified for the CEO of any business organization. but then why threaten to sue the two persons who spotted you flying first class?

4:22 PM

Blogger Ruok said...

I have nothing against charities raising money. But when you start to blur the lines between donating out of the goodness of your heart and gambling, I think you are playing with fire. The worst thing that can happen is pple may form this mentality : If theres nothing in it for me, why should I donate?
But I fear it has already started. Take away the lottery and lucky draws, you may find no one willing to donate.
On a seperate note, dun get me started on bogus charities that have been lining the streets to ask for donations.
When you corrupt the goodness of the heart, you may find the purifying process more difficult than the corruption.
A truly charitable S'pore citizen may be an urban legend soon.

8:52 PM

Blogger lakeside girl said...

Agreed :) Wow, i didn't know about such things. For goodness, i'm starting to feel that there are more celebrities than i like to think deserve their stereotyped image as being bloodthirsty sharks.

8:54 PM

Blogger threez said...

hahaha, no, it wasn't Fann Wong that told me to pay $7K, it was her management. She also poor thing -- we actually communicated and she said she needs to clear any requests nowadays. Either because The Number One Only Existing Free TV Station has commanded her to, or because there has been abuse before. Maybe both.

But Fann herself is a really nice person and into children's causes. Pity about her boss.

9:54 PM

Blogger Barffie said...

I would rather donate to Renci Charity Show from now on (support Ming Yi, maybe even SPCA. At least some of the patients in Renci are fully subsidised if their family is really jialat one. Oops. I am speaking bad Engrish. And Renci charity show DOES NOT feature prizes and stuff in return for donation.

But anyway, certain luxuries are OKAY for a CEO, even for a charity organisation. But things like gold-plated taps are too much. And apparantly, he's a little too full of himself. Bringing this issue to the public will kill the brand name, and especially the trust the public has for smaller charity organisations.

2:47 PM

Blogger Barffie said...

Yeah. Artists nowadays are like products. The people marketing them would want to squeeze money out of their popularity. Pity.

2:51 PM

Blogger dp said...

NKF is not just a non-profit organisation, but a charity. No matter how much wealth they created through business deals, there's still a large sum of money that come from the public, some contributing monthly via GIRO even. There is really no grounds for a charity to not disclose their accounts and expenses, what more be disclosed under such negative and very public legal event.

NKF CEO can earn any salary he wants, if NKF is a tax-paying business entity. If they're non-profit, then the CEO's pay should be determined by the public. Would there be another person who can do the job at a fraction of the reward he's getting? Any volunteers?

7:27 PM

Blogger threez said...

Actually, NKF is a FOR-PROFIT organisation. They are not a non-profit, which are subject to different rules and regulations. Therefore NKF is run like a business and like any business it has the responsibility to make money. I guess that's why Mr Durai also feels he is entitled to make that sort of salary, since he considers himself CEO of a company.

I hate to do this but UNICEF is the same. Their heads fly first class and stay in 6-star hotels. I met the former head of NCSS and she told me and then she said she never supported them again.

7:46 PM

Blogger Daniel/Rose said...

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9:29 PM

Blogger Daniel/Rose said...

Hi there threez, I was out searching for the latest information on Easy Homebiz and found your site. Although NKF BUST: DOING GOOD FOR MONEY? wasn't exactly what I was lookiing for, it certainly got my attention and interest. I see now why I found your page when I was looking for Easy Homebiz related information, and I'm glad I stopped by even though this isn't a perfect match. Great post. Thanks for the read!

1:32 AM


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