MonthApril 2013

Church feels the heat over gay singer’s gig

http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/case-you-missed-it/story/church-feels-the-heat-over-gay-singers-gig-20130306

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Church feels the heat over gay singer’s gig

Purely business, says New Creation as churches’ body looks into complaint

Published on Mar 06, 2013

Singer Adam Lambert has performed twice in Singapore and the National Council of Churches said it did not receive any complaints about those concerts. — PHOTO: REUTERS

 

By Tessa Wong

THE National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) is looking into a complaint about a church-owned venue hosting an upcoming concert by openly gay singer Adam Lambert.

Lambert is due to perform next Friday at The Star Performing Arts Centre, a commercial entity fully owned by Rock Productions, the business arm of New Creation Church.

New Creation is a member of the NCCS, which represents about 200 churches in Singapore.

NCCS general secretary Lim K. Tham said the council had received a complaint from a Christian that “the gay lifestyle may be promoted at the concert, and that the concert venue is owned by a church,” he said.

“The NCCS has conveyed this concern to New Creation so that it can make a response.”

The Media Development Authority (MDA) said it has also received feedback from some members of the public “expressing concern” about the concert. It declined to reveal what their concerns were.

Even though it is not the first time that Lambert has performed here, the NCCS said it did not receive complaints about his previous gigs. The MDA declined to say whether it received any complaints about him previously.

He performed at Resorts World Sentosa in 2010 and sang at the Formula One Grand Prix at the Padang in 2011.

When contacted, New Creation referred The Straits Times to a statement it posted on its website on Feb 9.

It said that the 5,000-seat performing arts centre in Buona Vista “operates its business independently from New Creation with a strict arms-length policy in place”.

It highlighted that the authorities, in awarding the tender to Rock Productions, stipulated that the venue had to operate “on a purely commercial basis and will not implement any leasing or pricing policies that will discriminate between religious groups, institutions or organisations from hiring the venue”.

The church noted that all public events require a public entertainment licence from the police, and government bodies such as MDA deal with issues of public decency.

“We have the utmost confidence in their policies and ability to protect the interest of the general public,” said the church.

Any event at the performing arts centre “should not be misconstrued or misunderstood” as the church “approving of its artistic presentation or endorsing the lifestyle of the performer”, said the statement.

It did not mention Adam Lambert nor any specific performers.

A spokesman for Lambert’s concert organiser, Hype Records, said it has not received any complaints about the concert. She added that they chose the venue based on “technical and capacity requirements”.

Mr Danny Yeo, group managing director for Knight Frank, said that since this venue is meant for the performing arts, “it will be difficult for the owner not to accept any booking unless it has a good reason to do so, and should only be decided on a commercial, not religious, basis”.

This is not the first time that Christians have raised concerns about a pop concert in recent months.

The MDA previously met with the NCCS and LoveSingapore, a network of 100 churches, about Lady Gaga’s concert in May last year. It is understood that they had raised concerns over how she may have insulted Christians and promoted homosexuality at her concert.

The MDA said the concert had been licensed with an advisory that it contained “some controversial religious content”. It said it found the eventual performance was in compliance with guidelines for that rating, which allows for “some mature content and coarse language”.

An MDA spokesman said the classification of Lambert’s concert is in progress.

She added the agency regularly receives feedback that helps ensure classification decisions “are in line with community standards, and protect the young from undesirable content while allowing consumers to make more informed decisions”.

twong@sph.com.sg

This story first appeared in The Straits Times on March 2, 2013

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Its Just Lunch – It’s Just lunch (IJL) Singapore – A PREFESSIONAL SCAM in SINGAPORE. DO NOT join this service

http://its-just-lunch.pissedconsumer.com/it-s-just-lunch-ijl-singapore-a-prefessional-scam-in-singapore-do-not-join-this-service-20130304389855.html

Yes I was cheated S$2568. 10 dates as I joined start Apr 2013. I used 2 dates and the two ladies used their mobile phone number to block my number and I was unable to contact them anymore for follow up. They told me no refund on phone. Wrote E-mail as they provide me e-mail address but no reply. So if they call me up I will going to F*** off and will not let them to disturb me.

So I may or not bring them to small case then to court eventually I still deciding as I may have high chances of winning and getting some money back from them as the URL above mention. I will update it the process if time consuming or troublesome later.

City Harvest case: Judge meets defence lawyers ahead of May trial

http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Crime/Story/A1Story20130424-418055.html

By Bryna Singh
The Straits Times
Friday, Apr 26, 2013

SINGAPORE – Senior District Judge See Kee Oon, who will be presiding over the trial of the six City Harvest Church leaders accused of embezzling more than $50 million, met their defence lawyers on Tuesday.

This was the first meeting between him and the defence team after several pre-trial conferences, which were heard by other judges. The highly anticipated trial is set to begin on May 15.

The six leaders are alleged to have funnelled $24 million of church money into sham bond investments to further the career of Ms Ho Yeow Sun, founding pastor Kong Hee’s pop singer wife. They are also said to have misappropriated another $26.6 million to cover up the first sum.

At the last pre-trial conference earlier this month, the six accused made a request to push back the start of their trial, which was denied.

This request was not re-visited on Tuesday. Instead, the parties busied themselves with sorting out administrative and logistic matters.

Several of the six leaders have at least two lawyers with them, so seating arrangements in court also needed to be worked out in the light of space constraints.

All are represented by senior counsel except Kong, who has engaged lawyer Edwin Tong.

Of the six leaders, only Chew Eng Han was in court on Tuesday. He wanted to apply for permission to go overseas for a few weeks for a business trip.

The 52-year-old, who is the church’s former investment manager, said he would be back in time for the trial.

During church services earlier this month, Kong rallied his congregation, telling them that by next year, “everything should be all over”.

Individuals can ask for access to City Harvest inquiry report

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/individuals-can-ask-for-access-to-city-h/649124.html

  • POSTED: 23 Apr 2013 6:02 PM
  • UPDATED: 23 Apr 2013 9:53 PM

Individuals who wish to be granted access to the authorities’ inquiry report on the alleged misconduct of City Harvest Church may write to the Commissioner of Charities (COC) office to make a request.

630KongHeeSunHo-jpg_055005

Pastor Kong Hee (R in white) holds his wife Ho Yeow Sun’s hand as they leave the subordinate courts in Singapore on June 27, 2012. (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)

 

Approval will be given at the discretion of the COC, based on whether there are good and sufficient reasons, for example.

 

COC’s office said in a statement it is seeking representations from all affected individuals and members of the public on the proposal to remove four of the church’s senior members.

 

They are Kong Hee, Lam Leng Hung, Tan Ye Peng and Kelvin Teo Meng How, who served as governing board member, trustee and key officer.

 

“The COC’s invitation for representations is to allow members of the public to provide representations on the COC’s proposal to remove – on matters such as whether the COC should proceed to remove, the timing of such removal, and the impact of the proposed removal on the Charity and/or any persons – and to allow persons with additional or specific information which may affect the findings… to provide such information,” the COC said.

 

COC’s office said the removal proceedings are part of a regulatory process under the Charities Act which follows the inquiry’s findings.

 

The inquiry, which began on 31 May 2010, had found misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the church.

 

The COC’s office noted that the COC is not prejudging the case in doing so, adding that the objectives of the criminal trial are distinct and separate from the objectives of the COC’s actions.

 

The COC’s office added those individuals who have been removed from their positions may continue with their religious duties as pastors of the church.

 

It said these are separate from the holding of any governance or management positions in the charity.

 

Channel NewsAsia understands that Pastor Kong has yet to submit his own representation to the COC.

 

– CNA/ir

 

City Harvest Church’s founder, wife did not confirm consent to voluntarily extend suspension orders: COC

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/city-harvest-church-s-founder-wife-did-n/635692.html

  • By Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid
  • POSTED: 11 Apr 2013 10:16 PM

City Harvest Church’s founder Kong Hee and his wife Sun Ho were not among the five church leaders who reaffirmed their consent to voluntarily extend their suspension orders.

SINGAPORE: City Harvest Church’s founder Kong Hee and his wife Sun Ho were not among the five church leaders who reaffirmed their consent to voluntarily extend their suspension orders.

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) had asked for eight church leaders – including Senior Pastor Kong, who had initially given their consent on 7 February, to confirm by 25 March this year.

This was revealed by the Commissioner in a statement to clarify why he had “no choice but to proceed with regulatory action”, and propose to remove the eight from their management positions.

The Commissioner of Charities’ inquiry into City Harvest Church, instituted in May 2010, has revealed misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity particularly to money in the Building Fund, earmarked for specific purposes.

Financial irregularities of at least $23 million were discovered. The funds were used with the intention to finance Sun Ho’s secular music career, and the inquiry had found that there was a concerted effort to conceal it from stakeholders.

On 28 December 2012, the Commissioner proposed to nine church leaders that it would defer the next stage of regulatory action if all nine agreed to voluntarily extend their suspension orders.

By 7 February 2013, eight out of nine, including Pastor Kong Hee and Sun Ho, had initially consented to this proposal.

Although there was no collective agreement, as one person did not consent, the Commissioner said it was still prepared to defer regulatory action.

On 14 March 2013, it asked the eight persons to confirm in writing that they are still agreeable to voluntarily extend their suspension.

A final deadline of 25 March 2013 was given.

But by then, the Commissioner only received consents from five of them.

This time, pastor Kong Hee and Sun Ho were not among the five who reaffirmed their consent even though they had agreed to do so earlier.

The Commissioner said because the individual cases are linked, he could not extend the suspension only for those who gave their confirmations.

Separately, in his latest statement on 11 April, Pastor Kong maintained that the premise for the Commissioner’s offer had changed.

He said as he and his wife had already agreed to the original terms in February 2013, they did not see any reason to consent again to the revised offer.

There was no mention of the 25 March deadline in his latest statement.

The Commissioner has allowed all eight persons to make representations before deciding on removing them.

For four individuals, the Commissioner is also inviting representations from the public. They are:

– Pastor Kong Hee;

– Chairman of City Harvest Church’s Board Lam Leng Hung who served as its Treasurer from 7 March 2010 to 10 April 2011;

– Vice-Chairman of City Harvest Church’s Board Tan Ye Peng; and

– Key officer of City Harvest Church Kelvin Teo Meng How who exercises general control and management of the Charity’s administration.

All representations to the Commissioner of Charities have to be made by 13 May 2013.

It is understood that some church-goers have already submitted representations to the Commissioner of Charities not to remove their leaders.

– CNA/de

COC considering removing 8 persons from posts in City Harvest Church

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/coc-considering-removing-8-persons-from-/633044.html

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) is considering removing eight individuals from their positions in City Harvest Church, including church founder Kong Hee, as part of the next stage of its ongoing inquiry into the charity.

Pastor Kong Hee (R in white) holds his wife Ho Yeow Sun’s hand as they leave the subordinate courts in Singapore on June 27, 2012. (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: The Commissioner of Charities (COC) is considering removing eight individuals from their positions in City Harvest Church, including church founder Kong Hee.

This will be part of the next stage of its ongoing inquiry into the charity. An inquiry into the church was instituted in May 2010.

The latest move is based on the inquiry findings of February 2011 which revealed there was misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity, particularly with regard to money in the Building Fund which had been earmarked for specific purposes. Financial irregularities of at least S$23 million was discovered.

The funds were used with the intention to finance Ho Yeow Sun’s secular music career, and the inquiry found there was a concerted effort to conceal it from stakeholders.

But there is a due process which has to be observed, before any final decision on the removal can be made.

Spelling this out in detail on Tuesday, the COC said suspension orders were issued on nine church individuals in June 2012. This order is valid for 12 months.

On 28 December last year, the COC made a proposal to all nine that he would defer the next stage, should they collectively agree to a voluntary extension of their suspension orders until six months after the conclusion of the criminal trial.

This was done purely on a goodwill basis.

But there was no collective agreement on the matter. So before the lapse of the suspension order, the COC intends to proceed with the removal process against eight of them.

They are Kong Hee as well as church trustees and employees Lam Leng Hung, Tan Ye Peng, Kelvin Teo Meng How, Sharon Tan Shao Yuen, Jacqueline Tan Su Pheng, Chew Eng Han and Serina Wee Gek Yin.

As for Ho Yeow Sun, the COC says there is insufficient evidence for now to indicate she was responsible for or facilitated the mismanagement in the charity.

But before a decision on the removal can be made, those affected can make representations to the COC.

For four individuals – namely Kong Hee, Lam Leng Hung, Tan Ye Peng and Kelvin Teo Meng How – the CoC is also inviting representations from the public on the proposal to remove them.

All representations to the COC have to be made by 13 May.

The final decision on whether to remove them, would be made in consultation with the Attorney-General.

Those affected by the decision have recourse to appeal to the High Court.

Meanwhile, the COC stressed that any individual who is removed may continue with his religious duties.

These are separate from holding any governance or management positions in the charity, and that normal services of the charity can continue as usual.

Also, any action taken by the COC is separate and independent from the ongoing criminal cases.

The management board of City Harvest Church says it has been informed of the COC’s intention to remove eight individuals from their office.

In a statement, the chairman of the management board Aries Zulkarnain says it is a very challenging time for the church leaders and members, their families and the church.

He adds the church will stay united to continue serving its members and community to the best of its ability.

Also, pastors Kong Hee and Tan Ye Peng will continue to perform their pastoral duties.

Separately in a statement, the Commissioner of Charities, Low Puk Yeong, emphasised that the current COC action is independent and a separate process from the criminal proceedings against six of the suspended individuals. The public should not link the COC’s actions to the criminal trial.

He stressed that the COC’s regulatory actions are intended to protect the property and assets of the charity following an inquiry which found mismanagement and misconduct by some individuals in the charity. The actions have nothing to do with religion or religious practices.

– CNA/ir

  • By S Ramesh
  • POSTED: 09 Apr 2013 6:33 PM
  • UPDATED: 09 Apr 2013 9:53 PM

Trial involving City Harvest Church leaders to begin in May

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/trial-involving-city-harvest-c/628424.html

Judge appointed for trial involving six City Harvest Church leaders; trial to start in May

Pastor Kong Hee (R in white) holds his wife Ho Yeow Sun’s hand as they leave the subordinate courts in Singapore on June 27, 2012. (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)

 

SINGAPORE – A judge has been appointed for the trial involving leaders of City Harvest Church.

District Judge See Kee Oon will preside over the trial that is set for 15 to 23 May, which was decided during a closed-door pre-trial conference held on Friday.

Six City Harvest Church leaders, including its founder Senior Pastor Kong Hee, are charged with misusing church funds.

The others are Serina Wee Gek Yin, Chew Eng Han, Sharon Tan, Tan Ye Peng and John Lam.

The six leaders are accused of conspiring to cheat the church of millions of dollars.

They allegedly channelled some S$24 million into sham bond investments, and misappropriated some S$26 million to cover up the first sum.

The money was allegedly used to boost the music career of Kong Hee’s wife, Sun Ho.

Channel NewsAsia understands that defence lawyers for the six Church leaders had on Friday tried to postpone the trial dates, although the reason for this was not disclosed.

Channel NewsAsia understands the prosecution “strongly objected” to the postponement of trial dates.

After hearing from the lawyers from both sides, District Judge Victor Yeo decided that the trial dates should remain unchanged.

It is understood this is because the case has been going on for almost a year, and it is in the public’s interest that the trial is not postponed.

Channel NewsAsia also understands that during a closed-door session held on 15 December 2012, the prosecution had already provided the defence counsel with court documents to facilitate the preparation of an agreed statement of facts for the trial.

A final closed-door session will be held on 23 April before the trial begins.

– CNA/ck

  • By Leong Wai Kit
  • POSTED: 05 Apr 2013 5:36 PM