China / Hot Issues

Red Cross seeks transparency after scandal

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily) Updated: 2012-11-02 08:12

After last year's scandal, society now wants to monitor its management

The Red Cross Society of China is reforming its management system and striving for greater transparency in response to public anger after being embroiled in controversy in 2011.

Executive Vice-President Zhao Baige said the society wants to set up an inspection committee to monitor its management.

She announced the move in a speech in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, on Monday, on how the organization should be developed.

Zhao said the society will choose three provincial branches to pilot the reform. She again mentioned the scandal that broke in June 2011 when a 20-year-old woman, Guo Meimei, triggered national outrage by flaunting her wealth on her micro blog and claiming to be a manager with the society, which turned out to be false.

She also talked about the public's "sarcastic reaction" to local government online calls for donations after a rainstorm caused severe flooding in Beijing in July.

Her actions sparked widespread suspicion, with people questioning how a young woman working for a charity organization could be so wealthy.

Zhao said: "The basic duty of the China Red Cross is emergency rescue and humanitarian aid. We should tell the public more about this duty. On the other hand, comments on the Internet made us consider reform. The emotions of the public are an important driving force for us to improve our work."

In July, the central government issued guidelines for reforming the Red Cross Society, requiring governments at all levels to help the organization become more transparent in areas such as fund management, and to establish a system to oversee its operations.

Yang Tuan, a social-policy expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and also leader of an expert panel counseling the Red Cross Society on its reform, said the parties involved are still working on the reform plan, including how to establish the inspection committee.

Yang said the committee will be an independent panel comprising people from outside the organization, with the task of overseeing decision-making and management of donations.

"It's crucial to choose people who are not only knowledgeable but also able to tell the organization what the public wants," she said.

Regarding information disclosure and transparency, Yang said: "The China Red Cross should not have any secrets."

During a forum in September attended by representatives of Red Cross societies in the Asia-Pacific region, the organization released the results of a self-assessment.

Zhao said the results showed the organization excels in raising funds but needs to improve in other areas, such as its management structure and work efficiency.

She also told the forum that the China Red Cross Society was going to choose eight provincial branches to carry out an evaluation.

Yang told China Daily the evaluation is nearly finished, adding: "The reform program will consider the results of the evaluation, and decide from around the country where the reform should start."

In an official statement in June, Zhao said reform of the organization includes dealing with its relationship with the government properly, and setting up an efficient work system and improving social supervision.

However, Yang said he believes the reform will face challenges, given the special management structure of the China Red Cross.

"It's not like other social organizations. The Chinese government has given it public power by passing the Red Cross Law, and many of its employees have the status of civil servants," she said. "It's managed like part of the government.

"This is a challenge to improving its work efficiency."

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