July 15th, 2005

krazy koati

They even took Batman off the TV screen

That didn't take long. National Kidney Foundation head TT Durai, under fire for allegations of misusing donated funds, has given in to the tens of thousands calling for his resignation. The entire executive board has resigned as well. Besides petitions there were some incidents of vandalism outside the charity's headquarters, which has police rather upset. At least 6,800 people demanded refunds on past donations; many others are cancelling current or planned donations. Their charity telethon which had been unluckily scheduled for last night ended up a rather sad, dispirited affair, with the hosts unwilling to ask for donations explicitly or even to put the donation number on-screen; they raised a few thousand dollars over the night.

None of this mess or implosion of fundraising ability is likely to affect NKF's mission of subsidizing dialysis treatment, though. If the financial records which came out in court are correct, the charity has enough to provide the current level of care to patients for approximately 30 years. They had previoiusly publicized the charity as having reserves that could be exhausted in three years; Mr Durai admitted that the ``three years is an inaccuracy'', but that it was for the people of Singapore. The three year estimate, he said, was based on the worst-case scenario in which none of their patients could afford any of their co-payments.

TT Durai has announced he'll pay for the court costs incurred by the NKF and by Singapore Press Holdings, which he had sued in the incident that started this little scandal. Though I have to admit charity leaders who can build up a 30-year reserve maybe do deserve gold-plated taps in their bathroom if they want them. Still, there are a lot of people angry at NKF.

I'm honestly a bit impressed by the vandalism, which amounted to graffiti, slogans like ``Save Singapore,'' ``NKF = liar,'' and (in Chinese) ``big liar'' painted at the NKF headquarters. There's not a lot of graffiti in Singapore, making this a serious display of anger. It was cleaned up by this afternoon.

Trivia: George Washington Whistler, father of the famous painter, was a railroad engineer who convinced Tsar Nicholas I to adopt a wide, five-foot gauge for the Russian railway system. Source: Yankee Science in the Making, Dirk J Struik.

Currently Reading: The Pencil, Henry Petroski.