Friday, July 15, 2005

Money And The Kidney

The whole NKF-SPH saga. I know that everybody's been blogging about it and that I'm a bit lagging behind, but nevertheless, let me do an entry on it anyway.

The first thing that makes everybody's wide open when they read the article about the NKF CEO is that of his salary. Immediately you'd hear some go, (or you might even say it yourself)

"WAHHHHHHHHH..... 600K...."

I have to admit, that was my initial reaction too. To most of us, $600,000 isn't exactly viewed as "peanuts". And you wouldn't expect someone working in charity organization getting that amount of money, even if he is the CEO. But after reading and thinking more on the issue, I realized the real question should be whether or not Mr Durai deserves his salary.

And in my opinion, like Guo Xing on Oikono, is that he deserves it.

From the New Paper:

"Mr Durai graduated with a law degree and worked in the government legal service for six years until 1977.

During that time, he also studied for and obtained a master's of law in London.

In 1979, he joined law firm Rodyk and Davidson and was there for four years. He later left and was a director in several companies before taking up his CEO position in the NKF in 1992."

If you're good enough to be become a director in several companies, I think that having a high salary isn't surprising at all. Now when NKF hired him, what they hire him for? They hired him for his expertise. Having been a director in several companies, NKF probably realised that this guy had what it took to run their organization and make it a better one. And was Mr Durai successful in doing his job? Let me quote from Oikono:

"He made NKF one of the largest (if not largest) charity in Singapore, in financial terms. NKF is a successful charity with reserves of SGD$187 million (correct me if this figure is wrong). NKF is also internationally recognized as a success with similar organizations in the US seeking to emulate its performance."

So to me, his $600,000 salaray is well deserved.

When I explained this, a friend then said, "But it's a non-profit organziation! He's paid way too much la."

That's true, the NKF is a non-profit organization but that doesn't really matter. What we're talking about is whether this guy deserves the money that he earns. If I hire someone to do a job that's worth, let's say $3000 a month, when payday comes, I'm going to have to pay him $3000 whether my company's a non-profit organization or not. I can't say, "Oh sorry, we're a non-profit organization so we can only pay you $1500." Likewise, it would be absurd and unfair to pay someone $1500 to do a job that's worth $3000 just because you're a non-profit organization. If you want the best, be prepared to pay the price.

Like Mr Brown said:

"If you think about it, a CEO who manages $200 million and is making $500 to $600k a year, is really underpaid. VCs who handle that kind of money are usually paid much much more, usually more than a million a year. Heck, I know of Creative Directors, who are not responsible for this kind of money, being paid more than $25,000 a month.

Of course, if you don't consider the NKF a business, then this point is moot. But I do think that it is rather naive to expect $200 million to be managed by someone being paid $60k a year. I'd be worried if that were so."

However, it's obvious that Mr Durai and the NKF do have other issues to settle aside from his salary.

First off, it's NKF's lack of transparency. When you use the statement, "Every cent counts", it's only fair that you give a backing to that statement. If the NKF had been transparent, people wouldn't have felt so cheated when they found out where all their money was really going to. All along people have donated thinking every cent go to the patients when that wasn't the case at all.

Also, what's up with those bonuses, first-class air travel and golden fittings? Come on, a 10 month bonus is a bit kua zhang (exagerrated) don't you think? I've never heard of anybody get such a big bonus before. As for the golden fittings and air-class air travel, bah, I won't even bother explaining how unneccessary they are.

Lastly and most importantly, the fact is that NKF LIED to the public.

1) They overstated the number of patients by 1000. How do you explain that? Someone accidentally added a few zeros here and there?

2) I'll let the comments left on mrbrown's blog speak for themselves.

"The money donated from the public did not all go towards offsetting the dialysis fees of the patients - in fact, the patients are forced to pay $24m of the $31m, with the remaining $7m coming from the donations."

"When your patients pay 27 million out of the 31million spent - you DID NOT SPENT 31 MILLION".

3) NKF said they had reserves to last only 3 years. It turns out they had enough to last 30 years. In my opinion, this is the worse lie of all. To plead and ask for money claiming you're in need when you're actually filthy rich, that's just downright disgraceful.

After this whole incident, many people have cancelled their donations while others have gone to the extent of vandalising the NKF building. Well for me, I think it would be wrong to stop donating to the NKF altogether. But since they have to much money now, I'll simply donate to charities like the SPCA who need my support more than the NKF.

Maybe in 30 years when they really need the money, I might reconsider donating again.


Blogger ei|een said...

this is why i seldom donate to "big" charities.

for example - just look at the facilities of these "big" charities. come on. where do you think the money comes from to have all these?!

as for my personal views on this NKF saga, well, i think its better not to discuss it further. everything i want to say has already been said by someone. :)

i'd rather take my money and help those lesser known charities. they need our help so much more.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Ang Ku Kueh said...

It is for a fact that currently NKF does not exactly need as much financial aid as the other more underexposed charaities right now. I think u are right to still donate, but to the ones that need the money more. :) me too.:)

10:11 PM  
Blogger lancerlord said...

Continue your donations. But if you don't think you want to continue donating to NKF. Then there are many other places to park the money with.

2:52 AM  
Anonymous h3lix said...

Heh been sometime since i had read ur blog. Well once u are in the garment army right. they will have this nkf group to leech from u about 8-64 dollars a month. well being a nice guy i signed up for the 8 dollars plan because i wasn't able to refuse the sweet looking lady who explain until very xin ku. But within a week i canceled my plan :X lol.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, comparing the amount of money he manages to his salary does make sense. However, there is an undeniable difference between NKF and other normal company. Other company produced some kind of 'product' and let the consumer 'buy' it base on merit. However NKF makes their money base on donation. We as consumer dont get anything in return of the donation we make. Imagine NKF going to schools and ask school kids who are not working to donate their weekly allowance to charity and tell them how their 1 dollar makes a difference even though it is small. Imagine how they feel if they added that their CEO gets 600K a year! I'm pretty sure that all the donations that they get from those poor school kids in a year dont come close to 600K. So it just dont seems right for the CEO to get 600K while those poor kid loses 1 dollar from their already small account every month! Is like asking ur kids to spend less for lunch in school and you use the money saved to buy a big fat car for urself.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is like making donation to a begger on the streets. He end up driving a merc and we continue to take public transport. We will feel cheated even though he had rightfully earn the car by beggin 24 hours a day.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Mr Moron said...

The sad aspect of this whole saga is that the people affected are the kidney patients, and they do not deserve to bear all the negative repercussions of a man's actions.

But speaking in defence of Mr Durai, he is a very talented man. It's never, ever easy to run an organization as big as his, and I have to say he did well while on the job.

12:13 AM  
Blogger Inarticulate said...

*Sigh* all because of a couple of gold taps that started this.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Zen|th said...

eileen / Ang Ku Kueh: That's what I do too. I try to give it to the charities who need it more. Like the SPCA.

Lancerlord: Agreed. Just because of one incident, we shouldn't stop giving to charity.

H3lix: So you signed up just for the sweet lady? Hahaha. Who knows, I might have been suckered into signing up too.

Anonymous 1 and 2: Are you guys the same person? LoL~ Most people don't really associate high paying jobs with non profit organisations because their revenue is gotten from organizations. I think that Mr Durai was rightfully earning his salary but what NKF should have done was show more transparency. If they had revealed all that, people wouldn't feel as cheated as they are now.

Mr Moron: Hmm.. I don't think they are affected.. yet. Because NKF still has more than enough money to survive comfortably.

Inarticulate: I never really checked. So were they really gold taps in his toilet?

2:58 AM  
Blogger Inarticulate said...

yes, it was precisely that Richard Yong or Durai insisted on installing the gold taps just specifically for their offices that led to the contractor spilling the beans onto ST.

5:46 PM  

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