Recently, a Cambodian, Dork Silong, wrote about an unnamed Singaporean actor who poured S$100,000 a year into a phoney non-governmental organisation in Cambodia.
According to Silong, this actor was not aware that the money he donated went into paying for the school founder's Lexus instead of the school's maintenance and operations.
Subsequently, some people suggested that the local actor could be Thomas Ong.
Ong is known to have been supporting a Cambodian school called Sopheak's Friendship School since 2013.
Now, it appears that Ong is not the actor in question.
In a Shin Min Daily News (SMDN) interview published on May 29, Ong denied that he is the actor mentioned by Silong.
"I don't even even have S$100,000 in my bank account," Ong told SMDN. "I'm just an ordinary actor."
Ong went on to clarify that he personally meets Sopheak Phountam, the principal of Sopheak's Friendship School, every time he visits Cambodia. He also said that he is very familiar with the numbers in the school's bank account.
He maintained that every cent that goes to the school is used for its rightful purpose.
Further, Ong told SMDN that Sopheak rides a motorcycle instead of a branded car:
"The principal really wants to provide an education for poor Cambodians. He only receives a salary of US$350 (S$483) every month. In Cambodia, a 2001 Lexus costs US$15,000 (S$20,705). He would have to save for many years -- without eating or drinking -- to be able to afford it."
According to SMDN, Sopheak himself denied owning a branded car and insisted that he has never done anything "shameful".
Sopheak insisted that every donated cent was spent on the school and children.
Silong confirmed that he was not referring to Ong
When SMDN contacted Silong, the latter confirmed that he was not referring to Sopheak nor Ong in his original article. In fact, Silong does not know both of them.
Silong told the paper that the incident actually happened from 2015 to 2016. and the unscrupulous Cambodian closed down the NGO after he had extracted enough money from the Singaporean actor.
According to SMDN, Silong refused to divulge the name of the actor, however, he insisted that the incident did happen.
Silong added that he is unsure if such practices are still happening.
Meanwhile, on the topic of donations, Ong clarified that he does not handle donations to the school unless he is familiar with the donor.
"Many friends know that I have built schools in Cambodia and they want to donate. However, I will never accept money from someone whom I am unfamiliar with. In most cases, I do not accept donations. Money is a very sensitive subject; it's much better to donate to the school directly."
Despite this, Ong still hopes for people to come forward to contribute to Cambodian schools:
"If there is a a kind soul who wishes to donate to the school construction fund, they are more than welcome. I will bring donors to Cambodia to inspect the school's accounts. It's very transparent."
Top image via Thomas Ong's Facebook page.
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