City Harvest Church pastor warned by AGC over tweets

SINGAPORE - A pastor with City Harvest Church (CHC) was warned by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) on Tuesday for contempt over two of his tweets.

Mr Tan Kim Hock had on May 5 tweeted that he was "amazed at the efficiency of ST. They knew it while the court is still ongoing, or do they know earlier...". The next day, he posted another tweet saying, "Ecclesiastes 3:16... I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt!".

The AGC took issue with both tweets, saying in a statement on Tuesday that the tweet that refers to the newspaper "insinuates that the State Courts... had given The Straits Times (ST) preferential and privileged access to information pertaining to whether the accused persons in the ongoing criminal proceedings against a number of leaders of the City Harvest Church had a case to answer to the charges preferred against them, even before this decision was delivered by the Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon."

The spokesman added that May 5 tweet also "insinuates that the State Courts is biased and or unfair, given that such treatment was not equally accorded to everyone else" while the "Ecclesiastes tweet insinuates that the 'courts of law' in Singapore are 'corrupt', and in particular, that the Court hearing the City Harvest Trial is corrupt."

The AGC said it takes the view that the insinuations set out in the two tweets are insinuations which scandalise the Judiciary of the Republic of Singapore. "These insinuations are scurrilous, false, and made without any objective basis".

The pastor's tweets came after Presiding Judge See ruled that CHC founder Kong Hee and five others are to stand trial for charges they faced in conspiring to misuse $50.6 million of the church's funds to promote a music career for Kong's wife.

Mr Tan, said to be a founding member of CHC, had graduated from National University of Singapore with a degree in computer science in 1997 and obtained a diploma in Theological Studies the following year. According to the website of the School Of Theology (SOT), Mr Tan currently serves as the academic dean in the school, as well as a mission pastor in CHC.

Both tweets have since been removed from Mr Tan's Twitter account. In AGC's letter, Mr Tan has been asked to remove the tweet from his Twitter account and publish an apology for the publication of the two tweets on his Twitter account within seven days from Tuesday. Mr Tan has also been warned that publishing such insinuations can amount to contempt of court, and that action may be taken against him, said AGC.