City Harvest trial: Church members queue overnight to hear verdict

At 5.30am on Oct 21, a crowd was waiting to get passes to enter the State Courts.
At 5.30am on Oct 21, a crowd was waiting to get passes to enter the State Courts. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Mr Benjamin Lam (right) was the first person in the queue at 10pm on Oct 20.
Mr Benjamin Lam (right) was the first person in the queue at 10pm on Oct 20.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
At 5.30am on Oct 21, a crowd was waiting to get passes to enter the State Courts.
At 5.30am on Oct 21, a crowd was waiting to get passes to enter the State Courts. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The near-conclusion of the City Harvest Church (CHC) trial, one of Singapore's longest-running criminal battles, attracted an overnight queue at the State Courts early Wednesday (Oct 21) morning.

By 5.30am, close to 130 church members had gathered there to show their support for the six church leaders who are expected to learn their fates.

Church worker Lynn Tan was one of the few who managed to secure a ticket as her friend had started queueing from 3.30am. She had been held up in a church prayer meeting on Tuesday night.

"We are here to support. We trust in Pastor Kong (Hee)," said Ms Tan, who is in her 30s.

Not so lucky was another member of the church, who wanted to be known only as Joe. He arrived at 8.30am and decided to wait in line outside the courtroom in the hopes of getting a seat.

"It's been five years, whatever needs to be prayed has been prayed already," he told The Straits Times.

He added that many church members are hopeful of the verdict and were glad the trial was finally coming to a close.

Mr John Tay, 25, a business owner, also arrived at 8.30am and didn't manage to get a pass. "I decided to wait outside the courtroom to show support for my church leaders. Right now I'm calm and hoping for the best."

A 22-year-old florist, who asked not to be named, said she came at 4am but still didn't manage to get a pass.

"But that is OK. I've decided to wait outside the courtroom because I want to support my pastor, Pastor Kong. I also want to hear the verdict for myself.

"I hope for vindication, because I'm very sure I can trust my church and its integrity. The pastors are genuine people and they are sincere. I believe that the church is doing things properly.

"As for the verdict, good or bad, it is in God's hands. Regardless of what the verdict may be, the church will remain strong."

The six defendents are CHC founder and senior pastor Kong Hee, 51; deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 42; former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, 55; former CHC finance managers Serina Wee, 38, and Sharon Tan, 40; and former CHC finance committee member John Lam, 47.