Saturday, 12 July 2014

Cambodian Red Cross - The Dark Cross Cambodia Bears

“Every day they (the opposition) are cheating the people to get power… They say they seek justice for the will of the people but now the will of the people is that they need rice, so why don’t they help out there? When there are floods or any other incidents, fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters have seen that there is no other party coming to help you here…there is only the CPP because all civil servants are CPP.”

Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) president Bun Rany Hun Sen, 28 October 2013, The Cambodia Daily

“They [the CRC] think that those people [evictees] are always protesting against the CPP and the ruling party accuses them of being followers [of the opposition]…and then the Red Cross has no plan to help them.”

Housing Rights Task Force secretary-director Sia Phearum, 2 November 2013, The Cambodia Daily

Would the CRC president have Jean Henry Dunant spinning in his grave? She might not care that much even if she knew Dunant’s basic principle of “We are all one” underlined the Red Cross Movement this Swiss philanthropist founded 151 years ago. Instead of caring for all, friends or foes, the politically-charged president has done more than just splitting Cambodia right in the middle: she paints the red cross dark for Cambodia to bear.

First, huge annual donations to the CRC ring an alarm bell only the deaf can ignore. On the Annual Red Cross Day this year, the CRC rakes over USD14 million from a small but dedicated group of top government officials and businessmen, surpassing last year’s by more than USD300,000. The CPP Anti-Corruption Unit, which vows to fight corruption, pretends to be deaf. It does not follow up how these select donors can be so charitable; it would uncover that these donations are just payments for favours that turn anything they touch into gold.

Second, with these huge donations, there are huge question marks on where the money comes and goes. The CRC website does not provide any financials, albeit being flooded with photos of handouts and audiences with madam president.

Only the umbrella organisation – the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – gives a glimpse of what the CRC is up to. Their website has the CRC annual reports for the calendar year of 2013 and 2012, though they contain only statements of expenditures. There is neither revenue statement nor balance sheet. None of the over USD28 million they boast they raised in the two years is reported. Either those pledges of donations are just hot air, or the CRC thinks the amounts are immaterial.

Nonetheless, the 2013 financial statement reveals a mere total fund outflow of CHF432,000, or about USD484,000. Obviously, the CRC’s one million dollar pledge to five Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals is not disclosed. The promise may just be empty, only meant to boost the CRC and CPP images in publicity stunt, in which case Dr Beat Richner must continue with his weekly cello busking to support the hospitals.

However, the breakdown of the disclosed CRC expenditures confirms the needy benefit little, though not surprising. A large chunk (63%) of the total outgoings is for personnel – presumably staff wages; another 15.3% is for general expenditures which are not specified. The only expense item that may have some connection to the needy is described in the financial statement as “the relief items, construction, and supplies”; it accounts for a mere 4.2% of the total. Thus, most of the expenditures are for administration, not the needy – not as much as the CPP publicity machine indicates.

Assuming no donor in their right mind would dare to mislead the CRC president by not honouring their pledge of donation, a large chunk of cash is missing. Eventhough the CRC annual report completely skips balance sheet items altogether, someone must know where the money is. Guess who?

Ung Bun Ang

Parthian Shot:

“A public servant who takes bribes is akin to a traitor.”

Tel Aviv District Court judge David Rozen, 14 May 2014, Reuters

The judge has just sentenced ex-Isreali prime minister Ehud Olmert to six years in jail for taking bribes of a lousy $161,300.

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