Charity rules tightened to stop abuse

PHUKET: In an effort to prevent people from setting up charities as fronts to support themselves, Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura will require all organizations seeking foundation status to sign a consent form allowing the province to deregister them if they fall inactive, without having to resort to the courts.

The surprise announcement was made Thursday morning by Phuket’s Chief Administrative Assistant (Palad) Nivit Aroonrat while accepting an application for foundation status submitted by the Youth Football Home orphanage, now under construction in Thalang.

Although he said he was favorably disposed toward Youth Football Home, Palad Nivit asked the organization’s representatives to have its founder, Hong Kong businessman Henrik Lorenz, submit a signed document allowing the province to deregister the charity if it falls inactive for two years or more.

From now on, such a consent document will be part of the approval process for every group seeking foundation status in the province, he said.

“We have many problems about foundations at the moment. Many have been registered that accept donations for tsunami relief. There are now about 70 foundations registered in the province but, of these, about 80% don’t do any [charitable] activities.

“Some of them are not really functioning as charities, but rather as a means for their [foreign] founders to live quiet, comfortable lives here,” he said.

Palad Nivit said many foreigners wanted to want to buy land, build luxury homes and retire in Phuket. Some were using foundation status to skirt land ownership laws and evade taxes, he alleged.

“As for Youth Football Home, I think they have a good idea. I told them that Mr Lorenz has to sign a document confirming that he would fund the charity himself, without soliciting donations. When they provide the letter, I will forward it with their application to the Governor,” he said.

Pandora Cheung, Financial Controller of Henrik Lorenz Ltd, said the consent form would not be a problem because Mr Lorenz’s only intention was to help orphaned and destitute boys. He never planned to solicit donations for the home and was prepared to provide long-term funding for the project, she said.

The foundation will take 32 orphaned or underprivileged boys, aged between 8 and 10, and give them a home, an education and soccer training until they are able to care of themselves, she added

“We are a charitable organization, so we don’t really expect a lot from the whole project. We just want to see the boys happy and give them a chance of growing up like other children, with a good education,” she said.

The home, on eight rai of land in Tambon Srisoonthorn, is now about 80% complete and should be finished next month, she said.

“We started building last October. The main building will have eight dormitory rooms, each to be shared by four boys. The budget is about 20 million baht for both the home and the football field. This does not include the cost of the land, which was already owned by Mr Lorenz,” she said.

Mr Lorenz, a former first division player in the the Hong Kong soccer league, plans to bring in some big soccer stars to mark the opening of the orphanage, she added.

Pherapol Vichitra, Youth Football Home’s legal representative, said the group is still looking for qualified people to work at the orphanage, such as safety wardens, social workers, nannies, kitchen staff and housekeepers.

Mr Lorenz also funds an orphanage for street children in Nepal. Youth Football Home now has its own website here

Phuket News
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