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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. 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.
Jul. 14th, 2005 01:49 am (UTC)
yup, agree...12 months bonus for that many years is just ridiculous esp. for a charity organisation. i do feel regrets for the donation i made to them, feel very "cheated"...mine is a one time i wonder how those who do so regularly thru giro will feel, even worst! good luck to them i hope the organisation survive this disaster!

i still believe that before one should make any donation, check out the organisations if they are even genuine!! i did not with NKF, but i was just moved by what was shown in the media the stories of the families in their programmes...but then i thot this is NKF leh, cannot go wrong, right? well....

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