Police urged to investigate affairs at deaf association
Group alleged to have used HK$1.3 million of donation to build kindergarten teaching in English, Cantonese and Mandarin instead of sign language
A group of deaf Hongkongers on Saturday reported to police the use of funds by a charity and its treatment of members.
A total of 23 former members of the Hong Kong Association of the Deaf claimed the non-governmental organisation transferred HK$1.3 million of a donation to a private company that built an international kindergarten in Tai Po teaching in English, Cantonese and Mandarin instead of sign language as planned.
They held a press conference with lawmakers Ma Fung-kwok and Leung Che-cheung before going to the police headquarters in Wan Chai. Neither officials at the charity nor the Social Welfare Department could be reached for comment on Saturday.
The complainants also claimed their memberships were revoked in November after they asked to inspect the organisation’s financial accounts.
The funds were part of a HK$4.6 million donation raised in 2014 and 2015, they said.
Established in 1976, the association is a charitable self-help organisation exempted from taxation under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance. It represents Hong Kong at the World Federation of the Deaf, an international NGO that works closely with the United Nations.
Former association financial officer Chan Ka-wo said: “I was not allowed to see a lot of documents when we had meetings, and no one would answer my questions during the meetings.”
Chan said that he was removed from his post in May without notice and expelled from the association in November.
Members said over the past few years members who dared speak out were silenced.
Labour Party legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung called on the government’s Social Welfare Department to follow up on the case, noting the department funded the charity.
“The whole thing is not transparent,” Cheung said.
“It definitely went against what we think a charitable organisation should do.”
Lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, who represents the cultural sector, said it remained a question as to how the governance of charitable organisations should be supervised.
“I hope the government and society can pay attention to this incident,” Ma said.
“Deaf people are a socially vulnerable group, and they deserve fairer treatment.”
The number of hearing- impaired people in Hong Kong stood at 155,200 in 2013.