After a 2 year investigation, the Singapore Police had arrested leaders of one of Singapore’s biggest mega-churches, City Harvest Church. The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) arrested City Harvest founder, Pastor Kong Hee, along with four others for alleged criminal breach of trust and falsifying church accounts.
The main case is over the alleged misuse of at least S$23 million of church funds which were believed to have been used to finance the music career of Kong's pop-star wife, Sun Ho. Money from the church were given to a “Crossover Project”, with the purported purpose of using Sun Ho’s secular music to connect with people and reach out to non-Christians.
Though City Harvest has always denied that they funded Sun Ho, this cannot come as a surprise to anyone in Singapore. This is not a secret as City Harvest has always been pretty upfront about the fact that Pastor Kong Hee “support” his wife’s career.
The jewel in the CAD’s case seems to be evidence that money was sent to an affiliated church in Malaysia which was then used to fund Sun Ho’s career. Also the church had a secret “multi-purpose” account that was used to pay for Pastor Kong Hee’s and Sun Ho’s expenditures. To hide the account, the group dealt only in cash. This includes $600,000 donated by a Wahju Hanafi to the church which was earmarked as “love gifts”.
Now a lot of people have already linked this case to earlier scandals in Singapore involving Mr. TT Durai from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and the Venerable Ming Yi from Ren Ci Hospital. However I think this case is totally different.
In the case of Ren Ci Hospital, the Venerable Ming Yi never took any money. He found out that someone in his organization did, confronted the man, extracted a promise from him to repay the money, and changed the hospital’s account to cover it up. Ming Yi was convicted of falsifying accounts and he only did it to protect Ren Ci Hospital.
The case involving TT Durai and the NKF is a little more complex but most of the money taken seem be have been used on the NKF building. Remember the $10,000 doorknob? So you can argue (weakly I admit) that the money was used for the NKF.
It’s still early days but that does not seem to be the case against City Harvest. Considering the fact that Sun Ho is a pop star who plays dance music, Singaporeans has always found it strange that there could be any connection between dance music and church services, but the main problem for City Harvest is that they really went out of their way to hide money used for “Crossover Project”. The fact that the group dealt only in cash and channelled money to a church in Malaysia shows that they know what they are doing are wrong and they tried to covered their tracks.
This is about as different as you can get from the NKF case where TT Durai had everything down or Venerable Ming Yi who only did it for the sake of Ren Ci Hospital. The last thing Singapore needs is another scandal at one of its charities but god help Paster Kong Hee because the case against City Harvest looks strong.