Welfare group Crisis Centre barred from fund raising

Crisis Centre (Singapore) was set up as a society on Jan 16 last year and granted charity status on May 9 last year.
Crisis Centre (Singapore) was set up as a society on Jan 16 last year and granted charity status on May 9 last year.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM CRISIS CENTRE SINGAPORE

Voluntary welfare organisation Crisis Centre (Singapore) has been suspended from conducting any fund raising for six months starting yesterday, while its fund-raising activities are being investigated.

The centre provides transitional shelter for men who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

The Commissioner of Charities (COC), Dr Ang Hak Seng, said in a statement that he issued the suspension order to protect the public during investigations.

The order applies to fund-raising appeals for "charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes".

But the centre can still continue with its daily operations during this period, the COC said.

Crisis Centre was set up as a society on Jan 16 last year and granted charity status on May 9 the same year.

Dr Ang said he had received feedback about the centre's fund-raising appeals.

 
 
 
 

"Investigations to date have raised serious concerns about the charity's governance, record-keeping practices and ability to be accountable to its donors," he said, adding that he is satisfied there are grounds to exercise his powers under the Charities Act to suspend the fund-raising appeals.

Mr Dennis Lee, board secretary of Crisis Centre, said he believes the suspension order is "an excessive action as (the centre has) been upfront and accommodating in all aspects of the regulatory bodies' inquiries".

He added that the order "will deplete reserves entirely and (Crisis Centre) may not be able to continue to assist and serve homeless beneficiaries".

The centre's monthly overheads of about $30,000 come from maintaining two shelter units in Joo Chiat, feeding residents, employing stay-in staff and engaging qualified people to create programmes and to assist in the residents' reintegration.

"We implore the Government to reconsider this six-month suspension as this will essentially be the end of our organisation and the good work we do," said Mr Lee.

The centre has sought legal advice, adding that it has been working closely with the authorities and will continue to do so.

Mr Gerard Ee, chairman of the Charity Council, said: "Since Crisis Centre is deemed not to be able to account for the donations, it is best to place it under suspension until the fault has been rectified.

"As stated, it is to protect donors - henceforth donors can be confident that the COC is willing to act speedily to protect their interest and thus have greater confidence in giving generously."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2019, with the headline 'Welfare group barred from fund raising'. Print Edition | Subscribe