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Jul. 12th, 2005

As an ex-staff of NKF and (and ironically now a staff at SPH), I can't help but be bothered by the lawsuit news. I've written about my work experience at NKF before and I stayed away from the 'controversial issues' on purpose because I was trying to focus more on the plight of the patients whom I had to deal with on a regular basis and the difficulties I faced then.

My first thoughts were..what was Durai thinking of when he decided to sue SPH? Did he not know what this media giant can do to him and his beloved organisation? Or was he thinking he was beyond reproach and that no one could touch him? I've always thought that NKF's cause is good.. Its aim has always been and I believe still is, to help the dialysis patients and they went a different route from the other non-profit organisation by engaging the media and public in a big way. There was a time when NKF was like those other organisation, had to scrimp and watch their spendings & overheads..But as it became more successful in it's fundraising, it became more lax and I'm sure Durai's sense of importance and ego also grew accordingly. He'd assumed he would come out victorious again and boy was he wrong.

I have no issues with TT Durai's pay. I feel that he is entitled to his 25k per month salary (even though i was paid pittance when i was working there :P). He is one of the most hands-on & hardworking CEO ard and those who'd worked at NKF will acknowledge that. But, like many..I think the bonus paid out to him is way too much. And he isn't the only one getting that kind of are many of his senior management staff, some of whom, are probably earning more than 150k per year. But the fact of the matter was that he lied. He lied about how long the reserves can last for, about the first class airfares (which we all knew abt) and deceived many people along the way.

I've also always felt that more could have been done for the patients especially since NKF has so much reserve. Having worked in the department that was in charge of the welfare of the patients, I had problems with many of the practices of the organisation especially with regards to patients. I don't want to go to much into it but it was mainly to do with how the fees was determined. One of my main gripe then were patients who had insurance coverage, either by their company or through Medishield. In such cases, NKF would charge the maximum of $2400 for their fees. However, such coverage usually has a cap of up to a certain amt and by charging them such fees, it would mean that the insurance money would run dry soon. This disturbed me because dialysis is a lifelong treatment and by doing so, the patients would lose out in the long run.

During my stinct there, I was asked to terminate a patient dialysis treatment because he was didn't pay his fees for 6 months. It was an order made from the top and I had no choice but to pen the letter informing him of his last date of dialysis. Before that, I was like a debt collector, calling him and his family every other day to chase for payment. Also, I'd been trying in vain to find suitable jobs for the patient and his wife but they turned down all jobs offered to them. There was nothing much I could do then but to request for their fees to be lowered and debt to be waived but it was rejected. The case was soon brought to the press knowledge and the public soon came to know abt the patient's 'dismissal' from NKF. And this was what happened..

(from TNP, Aug 5, 2000)
NKF: We're sorry, it was our mistake

PROCEDURES not followed.

A bad error. And the National Kidney Foundation is sorry for making a mistake. And for sending Mr Yap a letter informing him that his dialysis sessions were being terminated.

"In this particular incident, the staff involved did not follow the procedure and the staff have been severely reprimanded," Mr Alwyn Lim, vice-chairman of the NKF, told The New Paper.

He added: "It was a human error on the part of the staff and I have asked for a review of the department because it's essential that serious mistakes like this not be repeated."

More importantly, the NKF has amended its termination procedures.Now, Mr Lim will serve as the final check. He explained: "Whatever the staff recommends comes to me for final assessment before it goes to the termination stage. It automatically triggers off the appeals panel."

I was freaking pissed that my dept was sorta made a scapegoat as a result even though I was merely following instruction to terminate the patient's dialysis. It wasn't me alone. My HOD was 'blamed' too..and she'd served NKF faithfully for 8 years. It was after this incident that I knew I had to leave the organisation soon as I'd became disillusioned and didn't like what I was doing anymore. So no one was surprised when I finally left the company. Anyway, I'm digressing here..

I don't know how NKF can ever survive this PR disaster. I'm sure many organisations and donors will be withdrawing their support soon and people would be demanding that NKF's licence as a profit organisation be revoked. But what then of the patients? And what's worse is that the other charities may lose out too as people becomes more cynical and refuses to donate as a result..

Edit : There's now an online petition asking
for the removal of TT Durai as CEO of NKF

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( 84 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jul. 12th, 2005 02:49 pm (UTC)
i was kinda shocked when i read about his bonus and what not from LJ (where else do i get my news right?) but at the same time, disturbed by the outrage from some LJers. it's natural to get angry at the "waste" of money but the rant some people went on was like empty vessel most noise.

thanks for sharing your insight and experience (so formal sounding hor?) but i appreciate the way how you try to stand on a somewhat not too biased ground.

it's sad that at the end, the people who will suffer from the backlash the most, would be those who need the money.
Jul. 12th, 2005 02:58 pm (UTC)
i know abt the bonuses already when I was there. I didn't enjoy such kind of bonus because I don't work at marketing..but then again, the pple at marketing worked really hard. Their hours were crazy and they had no life. Some pple i know look forward to their bonus so that they can afford to break their bond and leave the company.

I'm not sure whether my aim was to be neutral..Durai had an a vision and he acted on it. If you know the beginnings of NKF, you'll know that his intentions was good. He'd been with NKF since 1969 and has made it what it is today..yet, he's responsible for it's 'downfall' too..and it's sad. If only he had stayed true to his original goal..

and i agree..ultimately, the one who suffers will be those who badly need the funding..
(no subject) - e_rambler - Jul. 12th, 2005 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angeliatay - Jul. 12th, 2005 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - myeisha_l - Jul. 13th, 2005 02:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angeliatay - Jul. 14th, 2005 02:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - myeisha_l - Jul. 14th, 2005 02:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inventive_manic - Jul. 12th, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - burbur - Jul. 13th, 2005 01:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angeliatay - Jul. 13th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - burbur - Jul. 14th, 2005 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angeliatay - Jul. 13th, 2005 02:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2005 02:50 pm (UTC)
Maybe I am too cynical. I have never believed in the NKF cause. Never participated in any donation exercise because nothing is made transparent enough for the public.
Jul. 12th, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC)
i think it was different for me because I'd worked directly with the patients and realise how impt the organisation is to them. No matter what, you cannot deny that they have benefitted from it.

Diff strokes for different folks..:)
Jul. 12th, 2005 02:56 pm (UTC)
Someone better TT Durai than should just step up and stop behaving like a big-headed moron and learn how to manage the fund appropriately.
Jul. 12th, 2005 03:09 pm (UTC)
yes, i think Durai has to step down now after this debacle. But i'm not sure who they can elect to do so. NKF probably has to be more low-key now and I'm sure many of their partners and sponsors will chose not to partner them anymore.
(no subject) - rollybolly - Jul. 13th, 2005 12:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC)
Can we say cosmic coincidence!??!?!?!?! I just wrote something too and then I saw your entry!

I'm utterly disgusted with the whole fiasco. I mean, if I were a Mediacorp artiste, I would have been damn dui lor. What, you mean all those monkey tricks I did were in vain? Heh.
Jul. 12th, 2005 03:28 pm (UTC)
heh..i think almost everyone has something to say abt it since they've been 'exposed' to NKF, one way or another..

Some mediacorp artistes are more involved than others. Sharon Au for one totally believes in the NKF cause and she goes all out to persuade donors and sponsors. She is a donor herself.

As for the monkey tricks..believe it or not. It's not NKF who dictates what kinda stunts to do but the pple at MCS..
(no subject) - froufrou - Jul. 12th, 2005 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nachon - Jul. 12th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angeliatay - Jul. 12th, 2005 05:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2005 03:13 pm (UTC)
i had my reservations about NKF for a long time. ever since they kept bugging for donations year in year out after the family made a donation after my grandma passed away. it was no end and you keep hearing about how they don't seem to spend money wisely.
Jul. 12th, 2005 03:30 pm (UTC)
well, one can always choose to ignore the call for donation. The marketing staff at NKF is persistant and relentless..this is their job basically..they have a full set of telemarketers whose duties is to canvas for more donors.
Jul. 12th, 2005 03:31 pm (UTC)
in case some of you all don't know, there are like many others out there who contribute monthly to NKF through GIRO. I know because i'm one of them, paying $10 a month and the best part is i don't remember applying for it. But well since they have enough money then it's better to use mine for more constructive purposes.

anyway this is my first time posting here...just want to say aidan's really cute...heh..the irony...
Jul. 12th, 2005 04:12 pm (UTC)
yeah im aware of donors who contribute monthly to NKF..but im sure it cant be an automatic deduction. You need to sign something (maybe upon ur appointment to your company) in order to effect the deduction.

heh..nice name u have there :D..
Giro donation - (Anonymous) - Jul. 13th, 2005 09:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Giro donation - angeliatay - Jul. 13th, 2005 02:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2005 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this post. I was screaming in silence all these while. I never like to make donation to NKF having heard so many stories from my clients and friends about their selection criteria etc and how much these people earn and not forgetting their huge bonus! I soften my heart this year and made a donation, again! Please slap me for that the next time you see me!

All i ask is for everything to put to light and i really hope that the authoritites will be able to dig up more shit. With all that donation drive and the public pinning hope that they will be able to help, i really hope that our monies are going to the pockets of the needy. Next time, i would rather send personal cheques to the needy directly :/
Jul. 12th, 2005 04:14 pm (UTC)
im sure many pple arent gonna let the matter rest even tho the lawsuit has been withdrawn. Too many questions have been left unanswered and there's the matter of accountability to the public now.
Jul. 12th, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)
Didn't know you used to work in NKF. Actually this whole law suit is like "washing dirty linens in public". At least one consolation after reading your post is that you think Durai is rather capable. So maybe he is entitled to the big paycheck. Still I can't accept the first class travel or even thoughts of installing a gold plated tap! Shouldn't these people be more compassionate since they are always seeing the helpless victims? I hope there will be some positive revamp after all this public outcry.
Jul. 12th, 2005 05:12 pm (UTC)
i think durai's capability isn't questioned (One still shouldnt discredit what durai has done for NKF for the past 30+ years or so..) and some pple also feel that he is entitled to his salary. More are aghast at the bonus payout especially when it's given in years when the economy was bad. Also, it's more of his ethics that's being questioned now.

(no subject) - bbhome - Jul. 13th, 2005 01:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angeliatay - Jul. 13th, 2005 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2005 04:52 pm (UTC)
well... the news now is the reserve for NKF is enough to sustain for another 40 years. More than enough time for NKF to make a comeback, if it's really doomed... :D
Jul. 12th, 2005 05:13 pm (UTC)
heh..but SPH will still be ard 40 years later *grin*
Jul. 12th, 2005 06:11 pm (UTC)
I give a fixed sum to NKF monthly. Have done so ever since I started working. It's not that I'm naive or think that NKF is the best charity org around, but helping patients undergoing kidney dialysis is something I personally care about alot, as with caring for the aged. So it really saddens me that while NKF's cause was (is?) noble, some of the policies and folks running the show are terribly terribly flawed and should be removed.

A backlash is inevitable methinks given the disgust many people must feel right now. I can only hope a new, more transparent, and "cleaner" NKF (or equivalent organisation) will emerge from the debacle quickly to rekindle the passion to donate towards a humane cause without skepticism or reservations. At the end of the day, what really matters most is not flogging Durai and his henchmen (though they may well deserve it) or "punishing" NKF and other charity orgs, but making sure that the policies and safeguards are in place so that the money really gets channeled to the folks who need it most. Yeah I feel kinda betrayed, but I gotta be mindful how I channel my displeasure and not end up punishing the real victims instead.
Jul. 13th, 2005 02:58 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure how NKF can survive after still pondering why Durai had persisted in the lawsuit..clearly he should know how the media will deal with him..Did he really think he could win SPH? bah.

And yes..the real victims here are the patients...Some pple said not so coz of the cash reserves for NKF but one shouldnt think of it this way. Dialysis is an expensive treatment and after this, many of the staff will prob resign ..same for the medical staff at NKF and the treatment that they will get will definitely suffer..*sigh* Hope this will be handled properly somehow..

(no subject) - buzz_cut - Jul. 13th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - froufrou - Jul. 13th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - buzz_cut - Jul. 13th, 2005 04:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - froufrou - Jul. 13th, 2005 04:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angeliatay - Jul. 13th, 2005 04:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - buzz_cut - Jul. 13th, 2005 05:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 12th, 2005 07:55 pm (UTC)
hahah .. it's about time, I think.
Jul. 13th, 2005 02:52 pm (UTC)
abt time that everything is revealed?
(no subject) - sweetching - Jul. 14th, 2005 03:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 13th, 2005 12:34 am (UTC)
My mom has been an NKF patient for nearly ten years. While T. T. Durai and the rest of the overpaid top executives fuck around with the truth and with people's donations, patients like my mom pay higher fees every year, are nagged about how much saline and how many pieces of gauze they use, and have to contend with shitty attitudes from undertrained, mostly lowly paid foreign nurses. My husband and I are required to submit copies of our tax returns every year and state how much we're contributing financially to my mother's treatment. My mother and her fellow patients are constantly reminded about how grateful they should be because without the NKF, they wuld be dying in the streets. The CEO talks constantly about how "we are under attack", and uses social events to mouth off against NKF's detractors and reinforce his own position as our personal saviour.

I am indeed grateful that the NKF provides a fair standard of treatment at a price we can afford. I am not denying that the NKF has done a lot of good. But in recent years, I have grown completely disgusted with how the organisation is run, and the mindset of its employees. I do not donate to the NKF, and I tell my friends not to as well.
Jul. 13th, 2005 01:13 am (UTC)
yes..i was one of them who had assist in the yearly patients review and like what i've written, i had always been uncomfy with how the fees were set and how they increase year on year. Yes, it is subsidised fees but i'd always thought that they cant always look at the payslip of the individual and family members alone as they are many other factors too that may affect one's financial standings.

I also agree that it's in these recent years that things got worse and the organisation has become too ambituous and overly driven by the need to generate more revenue..
Jul. 13th, 2005 12:38 am (UTC)
This morning when we drove past NKF, pple were crowding around the main door, coz apparently someone had splashed or wrote in red paint last night and staff were busy painting the walls white. the power of media.
Jul. 13th, 2005 04:22 am (UTC)
yes, read abt it in The New Paper today..there's many angry and disgrunted pple out there for sure..
Jul. 13th, 2005 12:42 am (UTC)
Now we wonder whose money is NKF going to use in order to pay the Davinder Singh, the SPH's lawyer.

Anyway, read from sgforums that the maximum combined income of a family is $600 in order to qualify for subsidy from NKF. Is this true?
Jul. 13th, 2005 12:45 am (UTC)
No, it isn't. I think that there is an income bracket you must fall within to qualify but I'm not sure what it is.

Patients have their financial situations reviewed every year. They pay according to what the board believes they can afford. In general, however, the fees tend to increase over time.
(no subject) - delonchew - Jul. 13th, 2005 12:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 13th, 2005 01:23 am (UTC)
to hire a CEO for 25K a month for such an organisation??? if they cut his salary is more than half, many more patients would have benefit from the treatment and the program! i will always be weary when you decide to donate to these charities...
Jul. 13th, 2005 02:41 pm (UTC)
but i still think we shouldn't NOT donate as a result of this case..NKF is very different from the many charitable organisations in Singapore. It runs like a MNC and it's marketing strategy is not unlike those successful companies..

I still believe that his salary shouldnt be an issue..bonuses however is another matter..especially when the payout is during the time when the economy was so bad. Plus the other matters that had been revealed..many of which are conflict of interest and can be considered a criminal offence.
(no subject) - jinsiew - Jul. 14th, 2005 01:49 am (UTC) - Expand
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