Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Charity or not Charity ? Profit or Non-Profit ?

It is time for GIIS+GIF to have whistleblower protection

  1. Is GIF (Foundation) a charity ? Ans. Yes. GIF is registered as a charity.
  2. Is GIIS (School) a charity ? Ans. No. GIIS, as registered under company registration laws, is not a charity.
  3. Is GIF (Foundation) a non-profit ? Ans: Yes. GIF has sufficiently high expenditure (!) and does not pay out dividends, so as to maintain non-profit status.
  4. Is GIIS (School) a non-profit ? Ans: No. GIIS makes profit and is legally permitted to do so.
But: These facts above do not give GIF (exact words are: any charity that is "doing good"), "the license to operate in anyway convenient", if we go by Mr Gerard Ee, current Chairman of NKF (Straits Times 19/07/2008).

Many Singapore charities are under the scanner. Last week, the former Chairman of Ren Ci was "charged with forgery, conspiracy and misuse of funds". Report of 16 July Channel NewsAsia:

Former Chairman of Ren Ci has been charged with forgery, conspiracy and misuse of funds.

The ex-Chairman faces charges for alleged criminal breach of trust, one count of forgery for the purpose of cheating, and one count of abetment for allegedly falsifying accounts.

He also faces six charges under the Charities Act for allegedly providing false information over a decade.

Two of his associates, Raymond Yeung and Phua Seow Hua, were also alleged to have gone into conspiracy with the venerable and were also charged in court on Tuesday.

This is the second case in Singapore where a large charity and its leaders have been charged with mismanaging funds. The first was the National Kidney Foundation and its ex—CEO, TT Durai.
(SPH report by

The Straits Times report on charities [by Radha Basu,] "Back on their feet again" should ease all worry of us parents who are shocked by documents on GIIS and GIF regarding fees and funds collected. [Refer to our earlier articles on 2005 accounts, 2006 accounts, fee rise analysis -Ed].

Singapore being not a 'noisy' place (as compared to India), means that most of us expat Indian parents will just stay silent. [as long as they wanted to continue in the school without undue pressure. -Ed] Anyway, if this was in India, parents could have screamed aloud but managements would still go scot free, with all their money and connections to pull ! In Singapore you don't scream, you have to show patience, but ultimately there is faith in the system that those who do wrongs will not go free. It is a matter of time.

NKF saga dragged on for 3 years. Ultimately law and order prevailed. Parents should be happy, how swiftly cleanup was initiated with minimum disturbance to NKF patients. Which means, in the event of a probe on GIIS+GIF, students, teachers and parents have nothing to fear or worry about. We can expect the authorities to haul up those who did wrongs, or abetted wrongs or neglected their duty to prevent wrongs, but day to day operation will continue smoothly.

From the ST report:
"July 2005. NKF CEO T.T. Durai's lawsuit against Singapore Press Holdings leads to revelations that he has a $600,000 annual salary and travels first-class.

The NKF is also found to have inflated patient figures. Further scrutiny reveals that only 10 cents in every donation dollar go to patients.

In a culmination of court proceedings that drag on for three years, Durai goes to jail to serve a three-month corruption sentence in June 2008, nearly three years after the scandal erupted."

NKF's new Chairman Mr Gerard Ee said:
'Often charities forget that they are enterprises with a social mission. Just because they are doing good is not licence to operate in any way convenient.'

Whistleblower Protection

Other ST reports [Not on website. 'Road to Recovery', 19/07/2008 Radha Basu & Janice Heng] mentioned Whistleblower Protection: A policy which protects employees who report wrongdoing. Prof Mak Yuen Teen (expert in governance and ethics at NUS, who also helped to clean up NKF and SATA) said that whistleblower protection "is especially important for charities", and "routine internal audits don't always pick the problems". SATA's previous CEO was found guilty and asked to go after a scandal in 2005 (a private company registered by the CEO came to light), but now, the "new" SATA protects whistleblowers.

NKF ans SATA are stronger as a result.

As well meaning parents, we suggest GIIS and GIF authorities, principals, board, management, auditors, finance professionals, and all advisors (whether inactive or active) to take note of the above and do the right thing. It is never too late.

[If you are interested in knowing about legally protected whistleblowing, governance and ethics, please read this article by Prof Mak Yuen Teen. Highly recommended. -Ed]

READER COMMENTS removed on 14/4/2009:
1. eyeopener 'Magnum' comment
10 Dec 2008 11:52 PM Ref #28
2. Anonymous comment February 8, 2009 12:01 PM


Infernus said...

There's a difference between NKF and GIF.

NKF was initially found with a motive of philanthrophy.

GIF was found with another motive -To cheat people of their money.

eyeopener said...

GIIS website ends with 'org'. 'org' implies non-profit organisation.

Reality is certainly the opposite.

The website should have ended with 'vvcom'. 'vvcom' is very very commercial.

WBP+RTI said...

GIF is so far taking good advantage of lack of whistle blower protection laws in Singapore.

Fyi, in India RTI (Right to Information) is being used quite successfully by common man

Anonymous said...

In Charities to get rated (TODAY paper of 30-7-2008) Commissioner of Charities (COC) & Charity Council say it will
“facilitate a culture of greater disclosure and transparency, and of informed giving,”

Since Vice Pres. Dharmadhikari wants less disclosure he should resign from his post now.

Anonymous said...

Global Indian Foundation
Charity Reg No. 01801
ROS/RCB Reg 200301352N
f.k.a Global Indian Education Foundation Ltd
f.k.a. Indian Trust (Singapore) Ltd.

fab said...

NKF should have transformed itself
into 'global' kidney foundation..
(and they could have gotten away
with more !)
Need a 'global' charity watchdog
to unearth the financial dealings
of such 'worthy' MNCs - aka
multi-national charity.
let us be proud of ourselves - we are 'giving' so generously for a charitable cause. Errrr, how about some tax exemptions for us ;-)))

scrutiny said...

Read the June 4 report Educational Charities under scrutiny. Prof Mak Yuen Teen had pointed out (with reference to MDIS) the lack of independence between the boards of the school(MDIS) and the Trust.

Apply that "Mak Yuen Teen principle" to GIIS and GIF. The boards of both being so centrally controlled by Temurnikar family is not a good sign for governance.

keep it up said...

I agree with the writer that the no. 1 charitable people in this story are parents who continue to bring money to GIIS and GIF (without asking how it is spent, that is where parents have failed, parents = irresponsible donors).

But let us not forget the other non-financial donors, by that I mean teachers who teach for the very low salary they are paid. Ignoring silly "bonuses" like annual ship cruise with Temurnikar, the meagre salary remains low. In spite of that there are quite a number of good teachers delivering excellent contribution to society. It could only be because it appeals to them as a noble and charitable profession. (There are other teachers who are below par, running tuitions on the side etc and my praise is not for them). I hope GIIS sees the value of the NOBLE teachers and treats them with RESPECT. (This message is also for Mr GSS Rao, sorry to say, a principal can earn the respect of teachers and parents only from the way he conducts himself. It is not guaranteed by position).

must scrutinize said...

Statements from S'pore COC (Commissioner of Charities) raise main concerns :-

1. Paid staff chairing charity boards.
(in GIF - Atul Temurnikar is a paid staff and Chairman AB)

2. lack of formalized conflict of interest policy
(GIF GIIS transaction with many related companies with friends and family as directors. this is case of conflict of interest)

3. loans advanced without the documented approval of the board.
(car loan for Kaustubh's car, personal money loan given to Shailesh Temurnikar - these are approved by Atul but did whole board approved it ?)

The COC statement is published from
s'pore urges more transparency in charity

add more ? said...

What else can we add ?!

Anonymous said...

Regarding eyeopener's comments, it is a personal attack which is to be avoided. Eyeopener: you may be angry but just think, how does it help other than getting you into trouble.

To all parents: after coming to know recently about the defamation cases GIIS has in s'pore court. My understanding of the policy of s'pore authorities is: we parents are free to post any comments or criticism about school matters without fear but we should not threaten violence or harm and we should avoid using words like eyeopener.

This is just commonsense. And be aware that you are never anonymous on internet, to authorities.

Finally what I want to mention to all parents is, just think of how much expense GIIS must have paid in 2008 to hire lawyers running all these cases. It is basically parents money which could have been better utilised for improving teachers or facilities instead of given to lawyers. Is this how you wish your school funds to be spent ?

By the way.. I came here to post this link about an education entrepreneur who got the Padmashri award this republic day for Middle East NRI schools :

Hima said...

What can we do to scrutinize the accounts of GIIS? We atleast should ensure that the "Divide and Conquer" policy comes to an end.

Anonymous said...

Heard That there are a lot of student withdrawals from GIIS
owing to this recession

Is it true??? Unofficial figures point the number to 400

ST said...

Re: withdrawals. 9 march Straits times article Gloom at expat schools says GIIS is affected. As usual we parents don't have facts, GIIS is telling parents that school is not hit by gloom and in fact growing with waiting list. Your guess is as good as mine, what is the real truth.

to Hima : GIIS and GIF don't allow scrutinizing of accounts!

Anonymous said...

Just got GIIS mail below regarding ST report mentioned above.

By the way one item not related to GIIS Malaysia. Some Malaysia Indian Educational body involved by Samy Vellu is under scam probe.

From: Anjali Joshi
Date: 9/3/2009 [dd/mm/yyyy]
Subject: Clarification to ST editor on Factual errors in the ST article dated 9th March

Dear Parents,

This refers to article published today in ST front page. The article has factual errors
about the school growth and the total number of students. We have clarified this to
the ST Editor, a copy of which is enclosed for your kind reference. We now await
appropriate clarification to the public from ST side.

No gloom but only bloom for Global Indian International School

To the Editor,

We refer to the article headlined “Gloom and boom at international schools” in the
front page of Straits Times dated March 9’ 2009.

The article contains several factual errors and wrongly states that the Global
Indian International School (“GIIS”) is among the “hardest hit” by falling
enrolments; that GIIS has lost “up to 20%” of its students; and that total enrolment
in the school has fallen from 600 to 500 students currently.

On the contrary, we wish to clarify the following:

• GIIS has over 4,000 students in Singapore and remains the largest
non- profit international school in Singapore. To meet with growing demand the
school opened its third campus in Balestier – adding to its already existing two
campuses in Queenstown and East Coast.

• Total student enrolment in 2008 rose 16% compared to 2007 (net of

• New student Enrolment for the month of March 2009 is approximately
500 students compared to 600 students enrolled for the March 2008, and there
has been a net increase in student population compared to previous year.

There also continues to be a waiting list of students opting for certain grades in

With economic slowdown, while some students may have relocated out of
Singapore, the school has also seen an increase in students migrating from other
international schools into GIIS.

Kaustubh Bodhankar
Country Director,
Global Indian International School, Singapore

ST 10/3/09 said...

Straits Times/10 March 2009 Page 2 carried the following correction.

In yesterday's report "Gloom and boom at international schools" we said that Avondale Grammar was among 10 international schools to see a drop in enrolment. This is wrong. Although some students withdrew because of the financial crisis, overall, its enrolment has grown.

We are sorry for the error.

In the same report, we said that Global Indian International School's enrolment had dropped from 600 last year to 500 this year. The school has since clarified that these figures refer to new enrolments, and overall student population has increased from 3,512 last year to 4,075 this year.

Scholarship said...

March 4th, 2009 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS -

Singapore, March 4 (IANS) The Singapore-based Global Indian International School (GIIS) is offering scholarships to meritorious students from India who wish to pursue Std 11 & 12th studies there.
Global Indian Foundation (GIF), which operates the largest Pan-Asian educational institution chain, announced the GIIS scholarships for 2009 specially designed for India-based students who want to pursue 11th & 12th studies in either International Baccalaureate (IB) or CBSE, a press release said.

GIIS has over 17,000 students enrolled and 1,500 teachers in its 18 schools in Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, India and New Zealand.

This strange kind of scholarship is only for fresh students from India. This should have been open to Std 10 students of Singapore campus too. GIIS scholarship is discriminating against own students !