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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 bonus..so 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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Jul. 12th, 2005 10:49 am (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 10:58 am (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..
Jul. 12th, 2005 12:36 pm (UTC)
Good god they wanted the bonus to break bond. That's really extremely sad.

I think NKF has gone off track for quite some time liao - and it's just gonna go downhill from here. Like you said, I think the worst thing is that many SG people will just stop donating altogether...
Jul. 12th, 2005 01:17 pm (UTC)
heh i was one of such persons. Not easy to give up 2 months salary just like that hor..
Jul. 12th, 2005 10:45 pm (UTC)
I did too and it was my first job. *sob*
I must have missed you. I was at DPA from july 2000 and I was aware of the incident you quoted. And like you, i'm most concerned about the patients' welfare. Mr Durai allows his ego to get the better of him, sadly.
Jul. 14th, 2005 10:13 am (UTC)
it was definitely a case of ego..I think deep down, he thought what he did was fine as long as he was able to get more funds. I've always thought that he was too marketing driven..and that he lost touch of the patients' needs. Alot of times, i really disagreed with how the fees are set but what can we do. I wonder how pple like Amelia managed to stay so long in the organisation..tho she'd left already

Had to lock up this thread becuz pple were posting what i wrote elsewhere..
Jul. 14th, 2005 10:19 am (UTC)
Amelia left before I did and it came as a surprise to me then. By the time I left, half of the dept was gone.
Jul. 12th, 2005 04:09 pm (UTC)
wow, drama! at this point in time, i realized that i truly do not understand how charities work in Singapore - or similar ones any where else. (thanks for sharing, angelia)

and ya, while reading the comments made in sg_ljers, it's as if people are resentful of capitalism lor, i don't know if it's naivety or just denial. I don't know for sure how the infrastructure works, but i am not at all surprised about the amt of money Durai's weeding lor. All that built up angst in the community, at some level i'm also comforted that some decent action will be taken against NKF and Sg's well known almost-corrupt free govt will make the right changes. right? right?
Jul. 12th, 2005 09:39 pm (UTC)
today at work, this nfk story is all the aunties could talk about. they are all disgusted by the amount of money he makes. it's as if just because it's charity, the people working for the organization shouldn't even be bringing home money.
Jul. 13th, 2005 10:36 am (UTC)
yes..it is the water-cooler topic everywhere. Many of my colleagus were discussing how to cancel their giro donation..
Jul. 13th, 2005 10:03 pm (UTC)
this giro thing, do they do it automatically or do you have to choose to donate?
Jul. 13th, 2005 10:35 am (UTC)
actually, some charities 'work' the same way in the states. I remembered reading abt some CEOs of charity organisations who driving expensive cars and owning luxury houses..

Heh..i think the public will be calling for TT Durai's blood..there is a petition asking for his resignation already and i'm sure they will be calling for even more transparency in how the funds are allocated. The media definitely pursue it too.

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