City Harvest trial: How the international media reported it

City Harvest founder Kong Hee (right) arriving at the State Courts with wife Ho Yeow Sun on Oct 21, 2015.
City Harvest founder Kong Hee (right) arriving at the State Courts with wife Ho Yeow Sun on Oct 21, 2015.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - All six accused of multimillion-dollar fraud in the high-profile City Harvest Church (CHC) trial were found guilty on Wednesday (Oct 21).

In a trial that had run since May 2013, church founder Kong Hee, former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, former CHC finance managers Serina Wee and Sharon Tan, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, and former CHC finance committee member John Lam were convicted of varying charges of criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts.

The proceedings captured much attention both in Singapore and abroad.

The New York Times, in a report titled "Singapore Megachurch Founder Is Convicted of Fraud", focused on Kong and his wife Ho Yeow Sun, whose music career was funded with millions siphoned from the church.

Kong and the story of the church's rise to popularity were also the centre of an article from the Wall Street Journal, and an Associated Press report, which ran in The Guardian and other news websites.

 
 

The BBC, aside from its report on the verdict, examined Ms Ho's failed pop career. It detailed how she was restyled as a "vampy rapper-singer" in 2007 and produced singles which met with limited success.

Britain's The Telegraph also shone the spotlight on Ms Ho's pop star ambitions, which Kong claimed was part of the church's mission to evangelise through her music.

"The evangelical message of the brash videos with international music and modelling stars was not immediately clear," it wrote.

Vice News's report cites Ms Ho saying that she had thought about quitting the Crossover Project many times, only to change her mind upon seeing fans' reactions after her concerts.

Closer to home, media outlets ran wire reports from Reuters and Agence France-Presse. Malaysia's The Star published Reuters' article that called the scandal "a rare fall from grace".

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post added to its wire report by speaking to the senior pastor of a Hong Kong megachurch, who said that churches should be careful when managing funds from its congregation.

WHY IT MATTERS: The City Harvest Church case