Uncharitable thoughts about charities

First it was the National Kidney Foundation. Then Ren Ci Hospital. Now, City Harvest Church. Being investigated I mean.

The first two have seen their founders thoroughly disgraced. The story of City Harvest, hopefully, may have a happier ending.

Yet whatever the outcome of the police probe, its current problems, like those of NKF and Ren Ci before it, are, in my opinion, much to be blamed on eager, generous donors and government policy.

I declared this yesterday at our monthly lunch at the American Club and my kindly friend of almost 20 years (friendship, not his age) sitting next to me gave me such a fierce look that I decided to concentrate on the food which included Peking duck (I ate only the garnishings as i don’t eat duck), wasabi prawns, emerald tofu on a bed of dou-meow and covered by a blanket of shimeji mushrooms and so on.

dou-meow, tofu n shimeji

giant wasabi prawns

I’m not one to upset our once a month get-together, tho unlike the lunch’s organiser, I never suspected this next-2-me friend as having any truly religious bend.

So I held my peace and will air my views here instead.

Why do I think charitable organisation with massive support run into trouble as a result of over-generous donors and government policy?

First, if NKF, Ren Ci and City Harvest didn’t successfully attract enormous donations, then where would there be cause for allegations of financial irregularity? It’s precisely because each of these bodies have attracted millions $ that everyone sits up and take notice.

Also, if NKF and Ren Ci had remained struggling charities, then there would have been peanuts to tempt either T. T. Durai or Goh Kah Heng. And without temptation, it would have been highly unlikely for either to land in jail.

Second, government policy which effectively makes it more worthwhile for people with the spare buck to donate to institutions of public character like NKF and Ren Ci than to the starving old man with no IPC sitting forlornly outside an MRT station.

You can double deduct the amount you give against your taxable income to IPCs. For some other charities, the government does a dollar-for-dollar matching, or even a $2 to $1 matching.

Now, if that’s not a huge nudge to give to some organisations and not to give to others, I don’t know what is.

In addition, some may give in the belief that they are building merits for the next life, tho my annoyed friend next to me at the lunch certainly dismissed such notions about giving.

Whatever the reasons why people give, I think the recent spate of events should make these generous souls step back and ask if their open wallets aren’t paving the path to hell for otherwise intelligent, charismatic and possibly good people?

And rather than heap up irresistible temptations to cause the fall of the high and mighty, the generous should set aside some spare change for those simply dirty, desperate and hungry.

Sure, many of these have got there through their own fault. But they are at least not going to be brought low by misplaced generosity. Because at the depths they are already in, how much lower can they go?


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