Taiwan Red Cross sends team to quake zone to 'discuss use' of 5 million yuan donation
Group gives 5 million yuan, denies mainland counterpart asked for money
Taiwan's Red Cross Society sent a three-member assessment team to earthquake-devastated Yaan to help determine how part of a 5 million yuan (HK$6.2 million) donation should be used to aid victims of the disaster.
The organisation donated the money to the quake victims through its mainland counterpart, the Red Cross Society of China, on Sunday, with 1 million yuan to be used for purchasing medical and other aid supplies, and the rest for reconstruction and rehabilitation.
"The team left for Sichuan in the afternoon and will discuss with the mainland Red Cross how to use the 4 million yuan for reconstruction and rehabilitation," a Taiwanese Red Cross Society spokeswoman said.
She denied as groundless a press report that the mainland Red Cross had demanded that Taiwan's Red Cross donate 5 million yuan before sending rescue teams to Sichuan.
"There was nothing like that," she said, adding the Taiwanese Red Cross was only told that the earthquake emergency and relief centre under the mainland's State Council was in charge of co-ordinating rescue and relief teams in the devastated region.
The report prompted harsh criticism of the mainland Red Cross by internet users in Taiwan and on the mainland, with some accusing it of extorting money and adding to the victims' pain.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou expressed concern about the suffering caused by the quake and asked the island's government to donate US$1 million.
"The fund will be taken from the government's second reserve fund and transferred through the Straits Exchange Foundation in Taipei to its mainland counterpart," cabinet spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen said.
Taiwan's Formosa Plastics group has donated 50 million yuan for aid and Taiwanese footwear manufacturer Pou Chen group donated 20 million yuan.
On the mainland, the scandal-plagued Red Cross Society of China's donation drive has met with widespread public distrust, even though it was one of the first charities to offer quake relief.
Zhao Baige, an executive vice-president of the Red Cross, said it had received 7.25 million yuan in cash and donations in kind worth over 22 million yuan by 5pm yesterday. This included donations from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
But the mood in the online community was harsh.
"Take a hike!" thousands of microbloggers wrote, adding thumbs-down emoticons, in the comments under a post on the society's official Sina Weibo account calling for donations.
"Unless you publish the details of the donation, I won't donate to you for my entire life!" one microblogger wrote.
"Which new car does [Guo] Meimei want to buy this time?" another wrote, referring to a scandal in 2011 when the Red Cross Society of China came under heavy fire after a 22-year-old flaunted her luxury lifestyle and claimed to be a manager of a company run by the society.
In Shenzhen, people reportedly snubbed a donation drive that had been organised by the society's local branch outside a park on Sunday. "I can't trust you after a series of incidents at the society last year," the Southern Metropolis Daily quoted one passer-by as saying.
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