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Singapore

 

City Harvest trial: Founder Kong Hee 'not that concerned' that church lost money

Published on Aug 19, 2014 1:19 PM
 
Kong Hee and his wife Ho Yeow Sun arriving at the Court for the City Harvest Church trial. City Harvest founder Kong Hee did not love his church members and was "not that concerned about the church suffering losses", alleged former church treasurer Chew Eng Han as he completed his cross-examination of Kong on Tuesday. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - City Harvest founder Kong Hee did not love his church members and was "not that concerned about the church suffering losses", alleged former church treasurer Chew Eng Han as he completed his cross-examination of Kong on Tuesday.

While they have known each other for more than a decade and are both facing charges for the alleged misuse of church funds, Chew has sought to show that he was deceived by his former spiritual mentor.

Chew, who quit the church last year and is representing himself, said that Kong had not bothered to try and recover church funds sunk into his wife Ho Yeow Sun's American music album. The church saw the album as a way to reach out to non-Christians. The album was shelved after investigations into financial irregularities began in 2010.

"If you were (concerned about the church's losses) you would have tried to salvage whatever songs had been recorded and not just write them off," Chew said to Kong, who was taking the stand for the second week. Chew added that Kong could have sent Ms Ho back to the US to launch the album after the investigations started, or tried to sell the recorded songs' copyrights to recoup the church's money. Kong disagreed with all of Chew's claims.

He said that Ms Ho was needed in Singapore as she was City Harvest's co-founder and her presence would "calm the members". "Perhaps I could have done more to liquidate the copyrights... but I had a lot on my plate."

He said: "I had to perform my spiritual duties for the church, defend myself against the investigations first and then the proceedings, I had to raise my own funds for the legal bills and at the same time raise funds in the church... I do not agree that I do not love the church."

Earlier in the day, Chew also claimed that City Harvest attendance figures had been "falsified" and "grossly exaggerated", pointing to Blackberry messages by church members that suggested the actual attendance was around 12,000 weekly and not 28,000. Kong also refuted this, saying that the 12,000 figure referred to cell group leader counts and not total attendance. He referred Chew to a church department that did physical counts during services.

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