Apparently there will be no Ren Ci charity show this year while the probe is still underway. However, Ren Ci is still currently subsidized by MOH despite it being under probe. This show is typically held in January since it started in 2003. However, it had been probed last year after audits turned up discrepancies between the amount recorded by the charity as loaned out and that recorded by the companies as borrowed. MOH is concluding their investigations and will be making an announcement soon. Meanwhile operations are not disrupted and patients are still receiving care from the hospital.

THE popular Ren Ci Charity Show, usually a television fixture at this time of year, will not go on for now.

Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre chairman Chua Thian Poh said ‘no decision has been made’ on holding the event, since the charity is still under investigation.

Contacted last week, Mr Chua said: ‘We have to wait until the Health Ministry’s investigation is over before deciding. What’s most important now is that patients are taken care of and the hospital continues to run smoothly.’

While declining to say more, Mr Chua confirmed there will be no charity show in the first three months of this year.

The televised show, which raised more than $7 million per show in the past two years, had been held in January since it started in 2003. The exception was last year, when it was held in March.

Ren Ci has been under probe by the Ministry of Health (MOH) since November last year, after ‘possible irregularities’ were discovered in certain financial transactions.

The charity had extended interest-free loans, amounting to millions of dollars, to several companies.

An audit turned up discrepancies between the amount recorded by the charity as loaned out and that recorded by the companies as borrowed.

Ren Ci’s honorary chief executive, the Venerable Ming Yi, is also an owner of a company the charity lent money to.

Profits from the Mandala Buddhist Cultural Centre were supposed to be ploughed back to the charity, the centre’s other owner told The Straits Times earlier.

MOH said it is concluding its investigations into Ren Ci and will make an announcement ‘in due course’.

It also said it will continue to subsidise Ren Ci’s patient care services, but declined to reveal how much it is giving the charity.

Donations are the lifeblood of the charity, making up half of its $30.3 million income last year.

Ren Ci’s main fund-raiser, the charity show, brings in the millions the charity needs to keep going. The hospital had over 320 staff last year, according to its website, and more than 400 patients.

Besides being a major money-spinner, the shows are a talking point. The Venerable Ming Yi’s daredevil stunts are much discussed.

He has, for example, abseiled from the 45-storey Suntec Tower 2 and walked across 20m-long, 15cm-wide parallel beams suspended outside the 66th floor of Republic Plaza.

Even as plans for the show are up in the air, Ren Ci had about $40 million in reserves last year, according to its website, with an operating expenditure of $18.8 million.

theresat@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 19th January 2008



Reader's Comments

  1. onlooker | January 19th, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    So long as the destitute and poor in the hospital is taken care for.Just like the Dialysis patient in NKF is taken care of I don’t really care.Will still support Ren Ci though At least no golden tap or any whiff of that yet.

  2. Zhanzhao | January 20th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    They have to explain why the amount recorded as lent out is more than the amount received though…. its “missing money” and since the monk is affiliated to both the lending and borrowing organizations….

    Does not help that in an interview he said that the discrepancy was a small issue (from a few hundred thousand in discrepancies to a few million in transactions that were not supposed to be carried out by charities if I recall the numbers correctly)

  3. Simply Jean | January 28th, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    @onlooker: to a certain extent, i agree 🙂

    @Zhanzhao: oh well… media mishaps + PR issues (with dimissing the sum as “small”)

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