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Maintain Ren Ci’s IPC status until inquiry is completed

Posted by theonlinecitizen on November 9, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “Ren Ci under probe for financial discrepancies” (ST, Nov 8), and media reports about the Ministry of Health (MOH) conducting an inquiry into Ren Ci Hospital & Medicare Centre, after a review showed that there were irregularities in financial transactions involving Ren Ci and certain external organisations, and other gaps in corporate governance and internal controls.

In view of the ongoing inquiry, which will take about three months, Ren Ci’s Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status, which expires on 27 November this year, will not be renewed for the time being.

In the above news report, it was said that the “approach is to be firm, fair and transparent, and an inquiry is needed when transactions are not well explained by management… such an approach will lead the public to have greater confidence in the charity sector… We should not jump to any conclusion until the enquiry is completed. That will not be fair to the parties involved… will then announce its findings and take appropriate measures should there be wrong-doing'”.

I find the statements and the action taken to be somewhat contradictory.

On the one hand, we are saying that we should be “‘firm, fair and transparent’, ‘should not jump to any conclusion until the enquiry is completed’, ‘That will not be fair to the parties involved'”, whilst on the other hand, we are not renewing the IPC status.

In so doing, is it not in a sense, akin to pre-judging “its findings” and already taking “appropriate measures”, even before any “wrong-doing” has been found?

Ask anyone involved in the charity sector, and they may tell you that taking away IPC status, or in this case it’s non-renewal, may be like sounding the death-knell on a charity, because donations will no longer be tax exempt.

Therefore, in the meantime, and possibly into the future because of the loss of reputation, it may be the patients, staff, and their families, who may suffer the effects of the current state of affairs.

Since the inquiry will take three months, why not allow IPC status to continue for another two and a half months, before deciding when the inquiry’s findings are concluded?

Is another two and a half months going to make a world of difference, since the accounting firm Ernst & Young Associates had ended its general review of Ren Ci in February, whereby eight months have already lapsed by now? Why wasn’t the inquiry commenced earlier say two months ago, which would have given ample time to decide whether to conduct the inquiry in the first place, given that it would have been already about six months after the conclusion of the general review? This timeliness would have avoided the present predicament of Ren Ci being in limbo with regards to its IPC status.

The loss of IPC status is in a way, a permanent blemish that remains forever, as a charity like Ren Ci can never say again that it has been an Institution of Public Character since it’s founding in 1994, because of the two and a half month break.

So, two and a half months in limbo may be, in a way, time in eternity for a charity.

For the sake of helping “the public to have greater confidence in the charity sector”, particularly in the aftermath of the NKF saga, I would like to suggest that Ren Ci’s IPC status be maintained until the inquiry is concluded.

Read also: “Charities urge public not to pre-judge Ren Ci” by Channelnewsasia



9 Responses to “Maintain Ren Ci’s IPC status until inquiry is completed”

  1. Robert HO said

    The Ren Ci decision looks good cosmetically because the authorities seem to be ‘taking strict action’ but is totally unfair to Ren Ci in being ‘punished before being found guilty’ like in my case, and this ‘punishment before being found guilty’ may doom Ren Ci forever and its patients and staff because the withdrawal of IPC will signal to the public that Ren Ci is somehow ‘guilty’. Thus, unfair and unjudicious. Destroying a useful charity just to look good cosmetically. There is the further danger that Ren Ci may REALLY be found guilty to ‘justify’ this withdrawal of IPC.

    *Comments edited by moderator.

    **Dear Robert: Please stop using “Lie” as Lee Kuan Yew’s name. If you are referring to Lee Kuan Yew, please use the right name. Also, please stick to the issue which the article is focused on. We have been very patient with you, Robert, as we want to give you the right to say your piece. But having to make constant editing of your comments is tedious. In future, we will just delete your comments completely if you do not adhere to our repeated requests.

  2. […] NKF Scandal? – Alice in Wonderland: Ren Ci charity under investigation – The Online Citizen: Maintain Ren Ci’s IPC status until inquiry is completed – SPUG: RenCi.. the new can of […]

  3. macabresg said

    The perception that charity organisations should not be trusted will be reinforced with this inquiry going on, no matter how media appealed to the public not to pre-judge Ren Ci. I think the charity sector as a whole will be in for a hard time especially when the economic crisis strikes and Singaporeans become more conscious about their spendings. Donation drives may really face a serious problem then.

  4. Trademark said

    I thought Robert Ho wanted to boycott this blog when it had a new member from Young PAP on board?

    Back to the issue: I disagree with this. IPC status should be revoked. This is to serve as warning. If they probed they probably found some irregularities. No smoke without fire. Even if they are not criminal, they may not be upright. Blemish or not, so be it if they deserve it.

  5. Robert HO said

    1. Dear TradeMark, Yes, I did want to boycott but after noting that the editorial polices continue to be worldclass and honest in highlighting PAP stupidities, I am totally won over. TOC is now the best webresource in Singapore. Perhaps, TOC should create and list their bank account in its homepage so that all those who want to support this kind of honest reporting can contribute money. There can be several classes of fund donors, such as PATRONS, GIFTORS, etc, so that TOC can become a Malaysiakini, etc, and become even more professional. TOC is now an important read for any thinking Singaporean.

  6. Leong Sze Hian said

    “On the one hand, we are saying that we should be “‘firm, fair and transparent’, ’should not jump to any conclusion until the enquiry is completed’, ‘That will not be fair to the parties involved’”, whilst on the other hand, we are not renewing the IPC status.

    In so doing, is it not in a sense, akin to pre-judging “its findings” and already taking “appropriate measures”, even before any “wrong-doing” has been found?”

    In the case of NKF, no explanation or details were given as to why and what actually transpired when NKF’s IPC status was reinstated by the MOH within a month of it’s termination by NCSS – So much for being “firm, air and transparent”!

  7. Robert HO said

    1. Good points, Mr LEONG Sze Hian. The PAPs have absolutely no defence in the case of reinstating NKF IPC status WITHIN 1 MONTH OF ITS BEING TERMINATED ON FACTUAL AND SUBSTANTIATED FINDINGS BY NCSS. Someone high up in the Cabinet, with full Cabinet agreement as usual — these things are not done singly — screwed up and was biased towards Durai simply because he is another PAP man and backed by Patron GCT wife to boot.

    2. In this case of Ren Ci, I fear that now that the PAPs have again acted arbitrarily and stupidly, the entire Cabinet again, REN CI MAY BE FALSELY AND DELIBERATELY FOUND ‘GUILTY’ SO AS TO JUSTIFY THIS PAP MISTAKE OF NON-RENEWAL OF IPC STATUS. That is the danger. A cover up of a humongous and embarrassing mistake. Happened before and will happen again. I am now being falsely and deliberately deemed ‘guilty’ because otherwise, LEE KY LHL PAP heads will have to roll.

  8. familyman said

    question that has not been answered, MOH audits charity sector, who audits the reserves, temasek and GIC? Or when MM Lee and Ho ching manages these, the are not auditable? With our investment in Banks, (Standard Chartered etc) what is our exposure to the sub-prime loans? Suchou write offs- how much was it? Thaksin investment etc – Temasek, how much of our investment will be written down? Shouldn’t we be getting answers?

  9. pc tan said

    ren ci no more IPC status then donation will go to other organisation mah. then support will go back to NKF lah. anyway i’m sick of garmen wanting the public to help these organisation and i quit. unless garmen also pledge dollar to dollar equvialent to public donation. singapore economy firing on all cylinder right, who benefit the most? GARMEN lah !!!anyway minister & top civil servant have big pay raise, so don’t just sit back and just pay lip service !!!

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