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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

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 January, 2018, 7:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 5:31pm

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.

Deaf teacher strives to make learning through sign language fun for hearing-impaired pupils

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.

The whole thing is not ­transparent
Fernando Cheung, lawmaker

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.

Children born to deaf parents are taught life and speech skills in special Hong Kong course

“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.