Ex-NKF chief given stern police warning

Mr Edmund Kwok was sacked by NKF in November 2016 over a "personal indiscretion'' towards a male subordinate. During internal investigations, Mr Kwok admitted what he had done, and the charity filed a police report on the advice of its lawyers.
Mr Edmund Kwok was sacked by NKF in November 2016 over a "personal indiscretion'' towards a male subordinate. During internal investigations, Mr Kwok admitted what he had done, and the charity filed a police report on the advice of its lawyers.

Kwok, fired over 'personal indiscretion', understood to be under molestation probe

Former National Kidney Foundation (NKF) chief executive Edmund Kwok has been given a stern warning by the police more than a year after he was sacked over a "personal indiscretion'' towards a male subordinate.

A police spokesman told The Straits Times: "Following investigations, the police, in consultation with the Attorney-General's Chambers, have administered a stern warning to a 60-year-old man."

It is understood that Mr Kwok, 60, was investigated for molestation, but The Straits Times understands that the employee, who is in his 20s, was not willing to pursue the case.

Mr Kwok was fired in November 2016 after the man reported the incident to his supervisor. The charity's human resource department and NKF chairman Koh Poh Tiong were also alerted.

During internal investigations, Mr Kwok admitted what he had done, and was sacked. The NKF filed a police report on the advice of its lawyers.

Mr Kwok, who is married with two grown-up children, was given the warning late last month. He declined to comment.

Lawyer Rajan Supramaniam said that when a person is given a stern warning, this means that the police will not file charges and the case is closed.

An NKF spokesman declined to say whether the male employee is still working at the charity.

The spokesman also pointed out that the charity has a whistle-blowing policy allowing staff and members of the public to report any wrongdoing.

She said: "Since the incident, we have reiterated to all employees that such an avenue is available for them, should they feel the need to raise any issues. Striving to achieve the highest standards of corporate governance and transparency is of utmost importance to us."

The policy was implemented in 2008 by former NKF chairman Gerard Ee's team. Mr Ee took over after NKF's former chief executive T.T. Durai and the entire board stepped down following a public furore over the misuse of donations under Mr Durai's leadership.

In 2005, Mr Durai withdrew a lawsuit against Singapore Press Holdings, which owns The Straits Times, over an article about a gold-plated tap in his office.

Details of Mr Durai's $600,000 annual pay cheque, first-class travel perks and involvement in manipulating patient numbers emerged during the trial, and drove many NKF donors away.

Mr Ee and his team put in a raft of measures to put the charity in order and woo donors back.

The NKF spokesman said that support from donors and volunteers has not been affected by the Edmund Kwok incident.

She said: "We want to assure everyone that the guardianship of funds at the NKF continues to be in good hands, and the NKF remains committed to providing quality and affordable dialysis to patients with kidney failure."

The NKF is one of Singapore's largest charities, with almost 1,000 employees. It received $21.9 million in donations in its last financial year, which ended last June.

It is opening four more dialysis centres in the coming months. This will bring the number of centres to 37 by the end of the year. It has more than 4,200 patients.

After Mr Kwok was sacked, his predecessor Eunice Tay was called back from retirement to helm the charity while the board looked for a new CEO. Last August, Mr Tim Oei, a former lawyer who previously headed Awwa, another charity, took on the top job.

Mr Ee, who called Mr Kwok a good chap, said: "I believe it was a momentary lapse of personal judgment and control. Everyone makes mistakes, and it has been very painful for him and his family. It is time to move on."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2018, with the headline 'Ex-NKF chief given stern police warning'. Print Edition | Subscribe