Trust in NKF remains unshaken, say donors

Renal failure patients at the Thong Teck Sian Tong Lian Sin Sia NKF dialysis centre in Woodlands.
Renal failure patients at the Thong Teck Sian Tong Lian Sin Sia NKF dialysis centre in Woodlands. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

National Kidney Foundation (NKF) donors who spoke to The Straits Times yesterday shared the same message: They will continue to support one of Singapore's largest charities.

Housewife Jenny Wong, 56, has been a regular donor since 2010.

When news broke on Wednesday that NKF had sacked its chief executive officer Edmund Kwok, she was shocked. "It is a shame," she said.

But Mrs Wong's confidence in the charity and the work it does remains as strong as ever.

"The patients still need our help," she said. "Plus, there is assurance that money was not misused. As long as it goes towards helping patients, I will continue to donate."

Donors told The Straits Times that the charity's 4,000 patients should not have to pay the price for Mr Kwok's inappropriate behaviour.

This comes after Mr Kwok was sacked on Monday, after committing what the NKF described as a "reportable offence" against a male colleague.

Madam Christina Lim, who has donated to the charity almost every year for more than a decade, said: "It is one man's problem, and it has nothing to do with the patients."

The 57-year-old clerk added: "I will still donate. It is not a lot, but it goes a long way towards helping the patients."

Last year, NKF spent $100 million helping 4,000 patients. By 2020, given the rising number of kidney failure patients, it will need $200 million a year.

According to NKF's website, the charity received about $22 million in cash donations in its last financial year, which ended in June.

A long-time donor, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ong, said the recent episode does not affect his trust in the charity. "I am assured that there are tighter controls on how the money is spent since the T.T. Durai incident."

In 2005, the spotlight was put on the way funds were used under Mr Durai, who was then chief executive. The foundation pulled the plug on large-scale public fund-raising events after that.

But the NKF has since restructured after the scandal, with better corporate governance.

Retiree Peggy Goh, 59, said the organisation has regained the confidence of donors over the years, by increasing transparency on how donations are allocated, for instance.

Recognising how every cent is spent helps, she said. "Kidney dialysis patients often have to pay a lot and it is very draining for them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2016, with the headline 'Trust in charity remains unshaken, say donors'. Subscribe