Tue, Apr 12, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Red Cross Society of the ROC panned for fund delay

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

The Red Cross Society of the Republic of China (ROC) yesterday came under heavy criticism for the manner in which it has handled disaster relief funds raised for earthquake victims in Japan.

The semi-governmental organization has raised more than half of the NT$1.8 billion (US$62 million) pledged by Taiwanese for Japan after a devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

However, figures from the organization show that only US$15 million has been transferred to the Japanese Red Cross Society, the bulk of which was only wired yesterday after an internal decision on March 31.

The rest of the money is sitting in a bank account as the agency awaits further information from the Japanese Red Cross Society.

The delay has caused anger among some Internet users, with many launching an online petition calling on the Red Cross Society of the ROC to immediately transfer the full amount to its Japanese counterpart, while others have called for a boycott of the organization.

Amid the Web onslaught, the Red Cross Society of the ROC also came under fire at the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee.

“The Red Cross Society claims it awaits further information from the Japanese Red Cross Society. What if the Japanese Red Cross never provides a list of the things it needs? Do we just keep the money in Taiwan?” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如) asked.

DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) said since the Red Cross Society of the ROC does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Charity Donations Act (公益勸募條例) and instead is subject to the Red Cross Society Act of the Republic of China (中華民國紅十字會法) — which does not stipulate any penalties for violations — the group was for all intents and purposes in a position to do what other organizations cannot do.

“[The Red Cross Society Act of the Republic of China] is an emperor’s law,” Huang said, calling for revisions and adding that it would be best if the Red Cross Society of the ROC could be brought under the jurisdiction of the Charity Donations Act.

Huang also voiced concerns about a rumor that the Red Cross was taking 15 percent of the total donations to cover administrative expenses.

In response, Red Cross Society of the ROC deputy secretary-general Robert Hsieh (謝昭隆) said: “We only wired about US$15 million of the money to the Japanese Red Cross Society because they told us they needed a total of US$30 million for the initial emergency response operations and that the American Red Cross had already given it US$15 million.”

The Japanese Red Cross Society would call a meeting of all Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations worldwide to give a presentation on how they could be assisted, he said.

“We will attend the meeting and then we’ll see how we can help and will probably transfer the rest of the money to them,” he said.

Hsieh said his organization did not deduct 15 percent from the donations for administrative expenses.

“We use some of the money for expenses that occur during the execution [of the fundraising project], such as meals for volunteers,” Hsieh said. “However, it’s no more than 1 percent of the total raised.”

If a donor designates his or her donations for a specific use, the group would not use even a cent of the donation elsewhere, he said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers, including Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) and Chen Chieh (陳杰), also questioned the Red Cross Society of the ROC’s handling of the donations.

This story has been viewed 5834 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top