Sichuan Earthquake Donation
The tragedy and death toll of the massive Sichuan earthquake have touched the hearts of many people both in China and elsewhere, including Singaporeans. Many people are donating very generously to help the victims. Hawkers voluntarily put up signs that they will donate their day's earnings to the victims. People queued up at the Chinese Embassy to donate in thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, in cash or by cheques. While many people spontaneously gave to help, there is always the question whether the money will get to the victims. The fund raising is voluntary and haphazard and depends on the goodwill and honesty of the people collecting the fund. Under such circumstances, scams or cheats will appear to take advantage of the people's generosities. The Charities Acts require anyone raising funds to submit an audited account. But in this case, it is not necessary at the request of the Chinese govt. In the case of small individual efforts like the hawkers, it may be cumbersome to manage the fund raising and a bit of give and take may be acceptable. But when the amount is big, proper accounting and auditing must be in place. I find it very unsatisfactory at the way the Chinese Embassy handles the fund collection. The procedure is totally unacceptable. People going there and handing over cash in the thousands and all they received was a piece of photocopy paper with a chop from the Embassy saying they have donated such a sum of money. That is the only piece of paper given to the donor. On the part of the Embassy, they did not keep any copy nor did they record it anywhere that the sum is received. Money were just shafted into a box. Presumably they will count it themselves and aggregate the sum collected. But such a procedure gives rise to uncertainties and possibilities of misconduct. The Embassy must do something quickly to assure the public/donors that the money is properly accounted for with a proper accounting procedure. Even the collection of money in a funeral wake is more credible with the donor signed a book against the amount he contributed. In this case, the Embassy will not know who donated and how much were donated.