By Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the article “Tote Board’s donations hit $1.2b” (Sunday Times, Apr 14).
Can’t breakdown donations?
It states that “The board did not give a year-on-year breakdown of actual donations, stressing that these depend entirely on the number of projects deemed suitable for funding each year.
$400m donation to Gardens by the Bay?
Thus, only $145 million was committed in 2002, for instance, and $1.2 billion in 2007, largely because of a $400 million donation towards building the Gardens by the Bay.”
Can you imagine what $400 million in a year can do for the needy in Singapore?
Since the vision of the Tote Board according to its web site is “A leading grant-making organisation that channels gaming revenues to give hope to and improve lives in our community”, and its mission is “We manage our assets prudently, make social investments and fund worthy causes to build a stronger community”, do you think its $400 million donation towards building the Gardens by the Bay” is appropriate?
No annual reports?
As to “This is triple the $400 million on average it pledged each year between 2002 and 2011 according to figures the board made available to the Sunday Times – I was curious as to why the media has to rely on figures made available by the Tote Board.
Also, in quantum, the $400 million donation is equal to its average annual total amount pledged over the years.
So, I tried to find its annual report on its web site, but could not find any. I tried googling and also came up with nothing.
In this connection, according to the book, “Doing Good Well: What Does (and Does Not) Make Sense in the Nonprofit World“ by Willie Cheng – “The last official figure (of more than S$300 million) on the Tote Board annual giving was provided in a Parliamentary debate”.
So, does this mean that its annual reports and funding or giving information is not public information – and appears only when asked in Parliament or by the media?
Alas – Casino visits statistics?
With regard to “Funds for the Tote Board have risen sharply since the two casinos opened in 2010, with more than $500 million collected in entry levies alone between 2010 and June last year, the latest period for which figures are available”, does it mean that locals have made at least 5 million ($500 million divided by the $100 per entry levy and assuming that those who pay the $2,000 annual levy visit at least 20 times) visits to the casinos?
If this is the case, then we may have “accidentally” discovered the statistics that even questions in Parliament weren’t able to get. (“Parliament: Replies that never answer the question? (Act 3)“, Nov 17, 2012)
Need for transparency?
Finally, I wonder how much funds in total does the Tote Board have?
How much does it collect in revenue every year – In my view, I don’t think the reason – “The board did not give a year-on-year breakdown of actual donations, stressing that these depend entirely on the number of projects deemed suitable for funding each year”, is acceptable for Singapore’s largest charity organisation.
How much funds are disbursed every year?
What is the ratio of funds disbursed to revenue every year?
Are there anymore arguably “inappropriate” donations like the $400 million “towards building the Gardens by the Bay”?