Former City Harvest Church (CHC) fund manager Chew Eng Han, 57, yesterday failed in his second attempt to get the Court of Appeal to reopen his conviction. He was one of the six people convicted of misusing millions in church funds.
"In our judgment, this second application is not only an abuse of process but is also devoid of merit," said Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang as he delivered the decision of the three-judge court to dismiss Chew's bid. Justice Phang said that the court, which also comprised Judge of Appeal Judith Prakash and Justice Quentin Loh, would have dismissed Chew's application just on the basis that it was filed after the statutory time limit had passed.
But he emphasised that the application was "plainly abusive" and that Chew was essentially rehashing a point he had made in his previous application. Chew is the only one of the six who has not started serving his jail term. He is out on bail pending the outcome of separate proceedings brought by prosecutors on points of law.
The other five started their sentences on April 21. Initially given jail terms of between 21 months and eight years, they had their sentences reduced to between seven months and 3½ years' jail by the High Court on April 7.
On July 3, Chew's first attempt to refer 58 questions to the apex court, including whether a person can be convicted of misappropriation if he used the money not for himself but for the owner, was rejected.
On Aug 1, he filed another criminal motion seeking leave. This time, he argued that the CHC case was a first for the courts to find a person guilty of misappropriation for the wrong use of funds for the purpose of the owner, in this case, the church.
Chew argued that during the period of the offences, he would not have known that what he was doing amounted to misappropriation.
He argued that his conviction was therefore in breach of Article 11 of the Constitution, which states that "no person shall be punished for an act...which was not punishable by law when it was done".
"I'm just asking for justice," he said yesterday. But Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong said: "Having knocked on the backdoor once, and having been rightly rejected by Your Honours, he's back at the door knocking again."
The DPP argued that Chew was trying to delay his entry to prison by "drip-feeding" his arguments.