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yet another NKF post - pls bear with me..

Hubby and I spent most of last night reading through the lengthy KPMG report on their findings on NKF..Gawd, the more I read, the more pissed-off I was. I was both angry and indignant. I knew all along that the senior management had enjoyed many perks (eg.first class tickets, fantastic bonuses and high salary) but never did I expect the kind of excesses that was reported!

I feel there's a need to make something clear. Not all the staff enjoyed the hefty bonuses and increments..only Durai's favoured ones. We used to always joke amongst ourselves who the 'flavour' of the month was and how well 'rewarded' he/she would be at the end of the year.

I'm sure most of former & current staff must be feeling betrayed & angry..Believe it or not, many of them worked there because they believed in the cause - we thought we were truly helping the kidney-failure patients. Durai had always explained to us..that NKF is regularly audited and that 70% of the monies collected was used to help the patients. I really did believe(I'm that naive *sigh*) that it had to be true..and that even though there could be some abuse of the funds (in that the snr management had used it for their own enjoyment), at least the patients still benefited from it. I'm still reeling from the fact that only 10% went to the patients..

We didn't mind working hard..in fact, most of the staff at NKF worked crazy hours, even during the weekends. And to think that Durai actually claimed O/T! And I used to think that he was one of the more hardworking & hands-on CEOs ard. WTF! No wonder he's always working late because the longer the hours, the more the money into his pocket!

All of us staff had to sign a 3 years bond with the company and should they leave before the stipulated time, they have to pay up 2 months of their salary! I was one such person who did pay up though some of the more 'favoured' ones didn't have to. And if any of the staff had undergone external training or gone for an overseas trip and left before the contractual period, they too had to pay back the expenses incurred for those activities. The explanation given was that precious money and effort was made to train us staff and thus NKF had to be 'compensated' if we chose to leave before the 3 years were up.

There were lots of stupid rules too. One of them was on punctuality. We had to clock in when we came to work and for every 5 minutes we were late, we had to pay $5. And if you were late for more than half and hour, you will lose half a day leave. It didn't matter if we were up all night working! . Oh, we were also fined for grammatical errors in our reports/letters too since it reflected our lack of professionalism.

As I'd mentioned before, I used to be with DPA..the Department of Patients Advancement where we were responsible for the welfare of the patients. I knew many of the figures were fudged - dialysis fees, the no. of patients, the cost of drugs etc.. The figures were obtained from our department since we managed them. At that time, the dialysis fees was still accurately reported as $1,600 in our letters and PR cmn but a few months after I joined, we were asked to increase it to $2,000. And this was how it was done. The letters we drafted would have to be vetted by Durai and when it was returned to us, the new figures to be reported for the dialysis cost and patients no. was penned down by him. I did question my HOD then about the ethics behind it but she'd shrugged and said that it was commanded by the CEO..A few months later, the figure was changed to $2,400 (abt the time when the tv charity event was starting). The excuse given by Mr D was that we shouldnt be using SGH's pricing but those from the private dialysis centres which charge between $2,000 - $2,400 for dialysis. The reason - because the service and amenities from NKF were similar to that of the private dialysis centres. I have no idea how they managed to increase the figures to $2,600 6 years later...they must have found some other excuses to justify it. The thing is..such changes were done in a flippant manner and at the will & fancy of the CEO.


It was the same with the setting of fees for the patients. If he was in a good mood, he would be more lenient with the patients. There were times when he would simply walk out of a session with the patients and keep us all waiting for abt 1-2 hours and returned with a black face and the remaining patients would suffer as a result as it meant that most of their fees would raised or they would be admonished by him. Most of these sessions with the patients were held in the evenings..starting from 6pm and at times, it would end as late as 10pm and most of them would not have had their dinner yet.

There was something else that bugged me.. I'd written abt it before. Patients who had medical insurance like Medishield or insurance coverage from their company were taken advantage off too. Most of them were charged the full dialysis figure of $2,400 because their insurance would cover up to $2,000 of their fees. So, it meant that if you had insurance, it doesn't help because NKF would simply charge you more. But what is worse is that the total medical coverage from the insurers is capped at once you've reached the limit, it meant the patients couldn't rely on it anymore. Therefore, the higher NKF charges, the faster the patients would reach the limit. And remember, dialysis is for life so the patients really lose out in the long run.

I also had some problems with the way he derived at the fees for the patients and I could go on and on about it but..I guess more importantly now, it's how the new management at NKF would be able to rectify what had be done and really go about helping the patients more. It can't be just a reduction of fees by a few tens of a dollar..that really doesn't help much especially when the fees they had to pay was quite high to start off with. The fact of the matter is, many of the patients had no choice but to go with NKF. SGH and KDF had limited places and private dialysis was out of the question.

Could we as (former) staff done anything? Or are we just as guilty because we chose to turn the other way and took the easy way out by just leaving the company and letting them continue to exploit the patients and the generousity of the public? But what we knew was only what we could see at a superficial level or from hearsay. I really don't know..Afterall, I did exactly that..I chose to walk away.


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( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
angeliatay
Dec. 20th, 2005 12:28 pm (UTC)
yeah..me and hub rolled our eyes megally when we read abt! gawd..the gall of that fella! And i just cant believe how richard yong and gang were so determined to throw money at him! It isn't their money in the first place! Gah!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Dec. 23rd, 2005 02:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Governance - (Anonymous) - Dec. 24th, 2005 07:10 am (UTC) - Expand
missustay
Dec. 20th, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC)
i've heard all about those nkf real stories from the ex-employees. some of them had a hard time with their conscience cos they knew something was not quite right and yet they couldn't do anything and knowing that they can't help the needy really pricked their hearts.

all i can say is, that man is going to get bad karma.
angeliatay
Dec. 20th, 2005 01:09 pm (UTC)
the thing is..we really didn't know how bad the fraud was..i think many (before the report was out) still thought that at least the patients were benefitting from it. I think with the revelations from this report definitely shocked many of us.

(Anonymous)
Dec. 20th, 2005 12:58 pm (UTC)
I read your entry, especially the last para, and thought it was really sad that for a long time, no one spoke up against him. Even though so many people - employees, suppliers, advertisers, auditors, directors, patients - knew in one way or another something wasn't right. Especially the patients, sounds like they were at his mercy. Ick and damn.

It's difficult to say anything then with all the defamation threats hanging above the head. Most of us daily folks wouldn't have been able to afford Mr Singh if anything messy came about. He's a very clever, charming man who played his game damn well. Too bad, he made one wrong move and dug his own grave. Thank god he did.

It must have been a little traumatising for you now knowing the shit behind NKF. Corporate governance is form over substance if there is a Durai figure wielding his magic sword.

- kite
angeliatay
Dec. 20th, 2005 01:14 pm (UTC)
Im not really traumatised. I feel more for the staff who are working there now. Many were just as ignorant ..and imagine, they still have to report to work there everyday and face all the insults and taunts from angry pple.

And it's true that the patients were at his mercy...and it will be hard for them now too knowing how he had cheated them. Many of them were 'used' for PR purposes to show how pitiful they are. Most would prefer to keep a low profile but they 'gain points' if they were to cooperate by allowing themselves to be interviewed and filmed.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 20th, 2005 01:53 pm (UTC)
food for thought (came across this from a forum):

If a soldier is forced by his officer to rape a women in war (commits an illegal act) or witnesses his commanding officer shoot an unarmed civilian in war (is party to an illegal act) should the soldier be held liable for his crimes, or his failure to act against the crime? Most courts would say yes, that being a low-ranking workerbee does not make you free from guilt. If we are arresting every single terrorist in the middle east and prosecuting them all (not just the CEO Osama bin Laden), then it shows that we view the minions as guilty too.
if you buy that argument, then every worker who knew that NKF was a sham, and every board of director who failed to do their legally required due checks on D are equally culpable and deserving of criminal sentences.

not sure if this logic works in corporate governance, and i really hope this just stirs up debate on the NKF issue, rather than just scapegoating a man who is obviously already guilty, but not as singularly evil as we'd like to believe. and i really am not trying to make anybody feel bad, or hurt feelings - like you said in the last sentence, this is a thought exercise only, since all the actions have already been done. maybe for future fraud cases???

- random internet visitor (first time at this blog, quite interesting NKF posts!)
angeliatay
Dec. 20th, 2005 02:09 pm (UTC)
The examples you have related here are fairly clear cut and there are widely known internationally conventions or guidelines against such criminal activities. In the situations I've described at NKF, it is not clear whether any specific laws are broken. If you read the KPMG report, you will note that KPMg indicated that the legal and govermental regulation on charity organisation was confusing and haphazard.

At the point in time when I was at NKF, there was no whistle blowing act where NKF employees could have reported to the relevant authorities and be protected. You must also understand that the culture then at NKF was almost akin to hero worship of Mr Durai.I would say that more than 90% of the staff had strong feelings of admiration of Durai and have in one way or other, self rationalised the excesses that they have witnessed.

misawong
Dec. 20th, 2005 02:25 pm (UTC)
What a nightmare! I haven't been following the Durai saga as closely but I am glad that you have been blogging about it as it is a very interesting one. I was once offered a job by Durai to work at NKF but turned it down as I didn't like the social control of having to pay back money if I quit the job before the contract ended. There must be something wrong with the organization if they had to do that to curb staff turnover. I don't think that you should feel guilty that you chose to walk away and not be a whistle blower. As you didn't belong to senior management or had access to what is exactly going on, it must have been hard to truly understand what went on in the organization and to collect the facts against NKF. So don't worry.
angeliatay
Dec. 22nd, 2005 03:31 am (UTC)
yes, i recall you telling me that u'd almost join the organisation. somehow, i didnt seem to mind it that much then..i thought i was being altruistic hiaks..
e_rambler
Dec. 20th, 2005 02:55 pm (UTC)
*shakes fists*

I am also appalled at D's behaviour - and still so defiant despite all that! Gah! Indeed!
geekgeek
Dec. 20th, 2005 10:13 pm (UTC)
I don't think you should be blaming yourself in any way, whistle blowing or not, there is very little you could have done at that time given Durai's influence before this whole debacle. To the public, he was the hero who made NKF the giant it became, so even if you did highlight these misnomers, people who simply have shrugged them off.

If there was ever a story that one could use to illustrate the meaning of "karma", this whole saga would surely be it.
angeliatay
Dec. 20th, 2005 10:24 pm (UTC)
Im not exactly overwhelmed with guilt (hope I didn't give that impression) ..probably more of my conscience pricking me a little.

I guess back then too, most of us have self rationalised in one way or another that in spite of the faults that was apparent then, it was all done for the 'greater good' - which was to improve the welfare of the kidney patients. Many of us have even defended his actions, especially when the monies collected year after year increased with each successful charity event and various fundraising campaigns.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Dec. 23rd, 2005 02:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angeliatay - Dec. 23rd, 2005 12:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
alisonrae
Dec. 20th, 2005 10:29 pm (UTC)
I read all the stories with disbelief. K was also quite pissed because he has been a long-standing donor to NKF too.

This is the first time I have ever heard of a CEO of a large organisation claiming OT for working on weekends and public holidays. Outrageous. I hope they jail him or something.
angeliatay
Dec. 21st, 2005 03:10 am (UTC)
I cant believe that they had his pay raise backdated! They were so willing to throw money at him...! And his OT claims and encashment of leaves! Ridiculous especially when the people working for him were not given the same entitlements.

Gah..! And it's definitely not his him alone...even though he's been portrayed as the main 'evil-doer'.

Oh well, we just gotta wait and see how the govt/CAD will react to the findings..
jinsiew
Dec. 20th, 2005 10:42 pm (UTC)
i would have done the same if i were you working there..i would have quit and walk away the very same week...you've done well...as for this durai guy, i hope he gets heavy fine to be given back to NKF to benefit the patients who really need it...i will never donate to NKF ever again!!
angeliatay
Dec. 21st, 2005 08:24 am (UTC)
im not sure whether a fine would suffice..considering that he's been milking the organisation, the patients & the public for so many years. And he definitely didn't work alone..they have to be other parties involved too and currently, there's lotsa finger pointing and everyones blaming each other.
nachon
Dec. 20th, 2005 10:57 pm (UTC)
So many people are disturbed to find out the whole story..but being in the heart of the organisation and somehow knowing something was wrong somewhere, I'm sure it must have affected you much more.
What's going to happen to Durai now? I mean, legally he hasn't done anything wrong right? He didn't legally embezzle funds or anything...so he's gonna walk free with his nose up in the air?
angeliatay
Dec. 21st, 2005 12:53 am (UTC)
I think the main problem is that there isnt any concrete proof/documentation on intent to cheat the organisation..i'm sure CAD is still investigating to see whether any criminal acts have been done but who knows what will happen.
ubermom
Dec. 20th, 2005 11:30 pm (UTC)
It's really disgusting to read how Durai splurged on donators' sweat and blood moeny and claimed innocent. I'm just glad that I've stopped donating to NKF eons ago and thereby not a contributor to his obscenely fat bonus. Nevertheless, let's hope justice is done, and other charity orgs learn from this expensive lesson.
angeliatay
Dec. 21st, 2005 03:17 am (UTC)
yeah..i was aghast at reading how much Durai and his cohorts managed to gain throughout the years. Some of my colleagues who knew i was from NKF were asking me whether i was just as fortunate to enjoy such kinda perks there and some actually did think that every staff at NKF had benefitted one way or another which is untrue!
estherariel
Dec. 20th, 2005 11:37 pm (UTC)
hey there!

just a thought... but since you have first hand experience of working there and witnessing all the semi-fraudulent practices (like manipulating insurance etc), *and* have the brains and skills to talk/think/debate/write about it... do u think there's any way u could help the new NKF get its feet back on the ground?

it's just so sad that becoz of one man (and minions), all the poor innocent patients will have to suffer....... :|

even good/smart pple who come in now might not know the full picture to be able to help NKF.. mebbe write a long essay to ST forum? (or am i tat naive to think the forum is a real forum and not just choice letters of the week?)...

just a thought :) that u would be in good position to give some advice to new team... :)
angeliatay
Dec. 20th, 2005 11:44 pm (UTC)
erm..im just one of the many former employees from NKF..many who like me have their own opinions abt the organisation. I don't even know whether i should even be so frank abt my viewpoints in the first place esp on such a touchy subject.

I think with this revelation, the new team should be able to work with the existing employees there to hopefully get NKF back on its feet though it's definitely not gonna be easy.
(no subject) - estherariel - Dec. 20th, 2005 11:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
legolas79
Dec. 21st, 2005 02:56 am (UTC)
I have not terminated my Life Drop contributions. The patients (all 10% of my mnthly S$6) will need it. Your post is excellent. Can I send this to tomorrow.sg? More should know! More ex-staff should step up and speak their mind!
angeliatay
Dec. 21st, 2005 03:13 am (UTC)
nah..let's just keep this in my blog. A few pple had asked me to lock up my entry already though i dont think what i've written is slanderous in any way.
(no subject) - legolas79 - Dec. 21st, 2005 12:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angeliatay - Dec. 21st, 2005 12:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
faithpig
Dec. 21st, 2005 05:59 am (UTC)
You know what amazes me...
...is this can happen in anywhere but Singapore.

I am really sceptic about how much the Government is taking care of its so-called organisations and they actually let this sneak through their noses for more than 5 years..
angeliatay
Dec. 21st, 2005 08:20 am (UTC)
Re: You know what amazes me...
Yeah i know what u mean..i would have never expected something like that to happen in such an 'established' org in singapore. And NKF could have continued to operate the same way for many more years if not for Mr D's own undoing by thinking that he was invisible leading to him sueing SPH.

interestingly, majority of the 'wrongdoings' started ard the time that I'd joined. It coincided with the period where NKF move from its old humble run-down office to the spanking new $21 million dollar building.

myeisha_l
Dec. 21st, 2005 02:16 pm (UTC)
Could we as (former) staff done anything? Or are we just as guilty because we chose to turn the other way and took the easy way out by just leaving the company and letting them continue to exploit the patients?
I wondered about this too. And i wondered what could i have done? He's a very crafty man and the auditors could not detect the flaws until now. I'm just so glad that all(hopefully) is in the open and now patients can really benefit from the generosity of the public. What goes round comes round and i don't think Mr D can run away from it now.
angeliatay
Dec. 21st, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC)
I think most of us ex-staff from NKF felt the same way. Both of us were from a department that worked directly with the patients. We were the ones that evaluated their files at the hospital..we were involved in the fee determining process..we helped some of them get jobs and their kids get free tuition so we were more in touch with them. But we were also the ones who had to hound them to pay their fees/debts. So we cant help but be affected especially when we thought that we were there to help the patients..and that marketing was doing their utmost best to canvas more donations to help them. Im sure u were aware of the extravagence too but never did we think it was to such an extent!

You do know..it's not just him alone that's responsible. Definitely not and thus, it's not him alone that needs to be accountable to the patients and donors.
(no subject) - myeisha_l - Dec. 21st, 2005 11:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
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