There is no smoke without fire.
This is exactly the case with the Guo Meimei incident, which has tarnished the reputation of the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC). Guo showed off her luxury car and other wealth online and claimed to be general manager of the Red Cross Commercial Society.
Despite the RCSC's public declaration that it had no links to any such society and no connection with Guo, Guo Meimei is reported to be the girlfriend of a board member of a company connected to the RCSC.
Though RCSC asserted that there is no such organization as the Red Cross Commercial Society, there is indeed a Commercial Sector Red Cross Society, which is attached to the RCSC. And the RCSC has announced that it has already frozen all activities of its commercial organization and all its accounts will be audited. This is by no means evidence that RCSC has any problem in the management and use of the charity donations it has received.
However, the blow to RCSC's credibility is heavy. An online investigation shows that 90 percent of the people surveyed said that they will not donate to RCSC any more.
The RCSC, as a non-profit charity organization, has the obligation to keep all its activities transparent and let the public know how it manages its donations and where it has spent them. Yet, its lack of transparency in the use of charity donations has long been a matter of concern to the public.
In April this year, an RCSC branch in Shanghai spent nearly 10,000 yuan ($1,547) on a reception dinner for just 17 diners, more than 500 yuan for each person, much higher than the RCSC's permitted ceiling of 150 yuan per person. The invoice was posted online and aroused public indignation.
In the same way, the piecemeal exposure of Guo Meimei's identity has given people yet another excuse to question what more the RCSC is keeping from the public.
On this matter, the RCSC needs to first conduct an investigation into the entire incident and then tell the public what its commercial organization has done, whether it has made profits and how the profits, if any, have been used.
Then it needs to think hard about how it can rebuild its credibility. Maybe it should think about a thorough plan to disclose how it spends the administrative fees from the State coffers and set up a mechanism to make the entire process of managing and use of the donations transparent.
Transparency is the best remedy to repair the damage it has suffered to its credibility.
(China Daily 07/05/2011 page8)