Embattled Red Cross Society vows to make donations details public

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 July, 2011, 12:00am


The beleaguered Red Cross Society of China says it will publish tomorrow the accounts of all donations it has received as it struggles to improve its tarnished image.

The society, China's largest charity organisation, announced on Thursday that it would post details of donations online, with the first to be released relating to the deadly Yushu earthquake in Qinghai province in April of last year. It would list the amount of donations received, and how they have been spent.

The charity has faced a credibility crisis with the public since a woman calling herself Guo Meimei claimed to be the manager of the 'Red Cross Chamber of Commerce' on her microblog while flaunting her luxury cars and designer handbags. Although police said that Guo's post was a hoax, the society was nonetheless heavily criticised for a lack of transparency in its operations and accounting procedures. While the Red Cross Chamber of Commerce does not exist, the scandal has raised suspicions about the society's relations with businesses.

Wang Rupeng, the charity's secretary general, said this month that the Guo Meimei incident had put the entire organisation, including its headquarters and branches across the country, under pressure from the authorities, public and media.

The society's website allows the public to trace whether their donations have been received, but does not list the projects to which they have been allocated.

Three weeks ago the society pledged on its microblog to make public the details of its donations, financial management, procurement, spending and allocation.

Some members of the public have greeted the charity's promises with scepticism. 'It's been such a long time since the Yushu quake, but you still haven't figured out details of the donations,' one internet user said on the organisation's website. 'Your forthcoming 'information platform' is just meant to clean up your image.'

Following the high-speed-train crash in Wenzhou on Saturday that killed 40 people, the society sent a total of 450,000 yuan (HK$545,000) to the families of the dead and the injured, and for follow-up treatment for disabled victims.

In the latest scandal to embroil the charity, its subsidiary the China Red Cross Foundation was accused by the daily China Business News last week of teaming up with developers to buy land cheaply in the name of building low-cost housing for disadvantaged senior citizens, when the properties were actually lavish flats sold as commercial housing.