SINGAPORE - City Harvest Church would have openly and directly funded the Crossover Project if former church investment manager Chew Eng Han had his way.
Chew, who faces six charges of criminal breach of trust and four of falsifying the church's accounts, told the court on Friday that he had deferred to founder Kong Hee's preference to keep the funding discreet so that Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun would not be dismissed as a gospel singer who needed the church's help to succeed.
The church's Crossover Project was meant to use Ms Ho's pop music to evangelise.
Chew had discharged his lawyer and is now representing himself in the ongoing trial about the alleged misuse of the church's funds to boost Ms Ho's career and then to cover up the deed. Cross-examining Kong, Chew said: "I made it clear that the church should fund the Crossover directly... and I said to you there is nothing wrong with using church funds for the Crossover since it is a church mission, and I preferred the church to fund it openly, but you preferred not to do that." Kong agreed.
Although the church had financed Ms Ho's first two albums, a church member's allegation in 2003 that its building fund had been tapped to do this led to an outcry, as the fund was meant to help City Harvest secure a place of worship. Although the member, Mr Roland Poon, eventually retracted the allegation and apologised, City Harvest board members decided not to finance Ms Ho's future albums directly.
Music production firm Xtron Productions, a company led by church members, eventually became Ms Ho's artist manager, and raised funds by issuing bonds which City Harvest bought. Kong and another defendant, former church board member John Lam Leng Hung, had said Chew was the one who came up with the idea to create Xtron.
Chew denied this on Friday.