Mysterious sacking of NKF’s CEO [updated]

TL;DR – NKF CEO suddenly and mysteriously got sacked. ‘Nuff said.

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The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is one of Singapore’s more high profile charities. Remember the CEO’s gold tap in his office toilet, first class air travel and “peanuts” salary?

Photo from Straits Times

Photo of TT Durai from Straits Times

Since then, NKF has taken massive effort to clean up its act with more emphasis on serving kidney patients and less on high profile fund raising (I kinda miss the NKF shows…) and I’m sure many kidney patients and caretakers of kidney patients appreciate what NKF has done.

Which is why it’s now shocking to hear that NKF’s current CEO, Mr Edmund Kwok has been suddenly sacked. According to a statement by NKF that was released on 16 Nov, NKF had terminated Mr Kwok’s services with effect from 14 Nov. NKF’s statement stated:

“The Board of NKF would like to assure all stakeholders, including patients, donors, supporters and employees, that Mr Kwok’s personal indiscretion has nothing to do with the stewardship of our finances. Our operations are not affected by this matter and our services to patients and beneficiaries continue as per normal”

The move was so sudden that even Mr Gerard Ee, who was the Chairman of NKF’s Board of Directors after the TT Durai scandal, was “surprised” at the news.

Mr Edmund Kwok, no longer CEO of NKF. Photo from NKF

Mr Edmund Kwok, no longer CEO of NKF. Photo from NKF

Why was he sacked?

There is nothing so far to explain why Mr Kwok was sacked. Was he sacked because of the “personal indiscretion”? If so, what was that “personal indiscretion”? If Mr Kwok’s “personal indiscretion” did not affect NKF’s operations, then exactly how did the “personal indiscretion” affect Mr Kwok’s ability to be CEO so badly that he needs to be sacked?

NKF is an Institution of Public Character (IPC). As an IPC, it can take donations from the public. People who donate to IPCs may also be eligible to receive tax deductions (i.e. if you donate money to an IPC, you may be able to pay less tax). NKF also gets funding from the government in various ways. So in all these various ways, NKF’s money comes from the public. It therefore is accountable to the public. It should thus be transparent and give a good and clear explanation of why it sacked its CEO so suddenly.

Faith and confidence

Beyond being accountable to the public, giving a good and clear explanation will also help to bolster faith and confidence in NKF. A leader is key to the organisation’s operations. Such a sudden and unplanned for change of leadership will inevitably be very disruptive. What steps has NKF taken to ensure that its operations continue to run smoothly? How does this change the long term direction of NKF? There are just so many questions that NKF has to address.

This is a developing story.

We hope that more details will emerge soon and will update as more information becomes available.

Update at 7pm on 16 Nov:

NKF held a press conference on the evening of 16 Nov to explain that Edmund Kwok was sacked because of his personal indiscretion involving a male staff member.

According to Mr Koh Poh Tiong, Chairman of NKF’s Board of Directors, the case first came to light last Monday when the male staff in question complained to his supervisor, who then brought it up to the human resources department. A report was then made to Mr Koh on Wednesday, who then held a board meeting on Friday.

Mr Koh then met Mr Kwok on that same night. Mr Kwok admitted to it at that meeting. The board then formed a disciplinary committee which spoke to Mr Kwok on Sunday. The committee recommended that he be terminated. Mr Kwok was informed about his termination on Monday.


 

The press conference did not go into the specifics of the personal indiscretion. But it was apparently serious enough for NKF to make a police report. It probably will go to court. Perhaps we will get greater details then.



Author: Jake Koh

Recovering sushi addict, I'm a man of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by his mystery.


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