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In City Harvest judgment, Judge singles out Kong Hee’s part in ‘culture of secrecy’

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/in-city-harvest-judgment/2212098.html

TODAY reports: Judge See Kee Oon says Kong Hee capitalised on the church’s climate of paranoia and fear in 2003 to galvanise support for the Crossover Project.

SINGAPORE: Criticising what he called the culture of insecurity that six City Harvest Church leaders convicted on Wednesday (Oct 21) operated under, Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon saved some of his strongest words for church founder Kong Hee in his 270-page written judgment released to the media on Thursday.

The six leaders – Kong, his deputy Tan Ye Peng, former church accountant Serina Wee, former church investment manager Chew Eng Han, former church finance manager Sharon Tan and former church board member John Lam – were found guilty on all counts of criminal breach of trust and/or falsification of accounts.

The judge had delivered his oral judgment, a condensed version of the written grounds, on Wednesday. He found that they had acted dishonestly and in breach of the trust reposed in them to cause wrongful loss of S$50 million to the church and to defraud auditors.

The judge said Kong capitalised on the church climate of paranoia and fear in 2003 to galvanise support for the Crossover Project – using his wife Ho Yeow Sun’s secular pop music to reach out to non-Christians.

The collective fear arose after then-church member Roland Poon publicly commented that church funds had been used to promote Ms Ho’s music career. Kong’s response to the incident revealed “both his personal dominance and deep insecurity”, said judge See.

The pastor rallied the church “around the big idea that … CHC’s leaders and by extension the entire church were being maligned and under attack, and hence had to be discreet”, the judge added.

The effort to keep the church’s financing of the Crossover discreet led to the set-up of Xtron Productions to manage Ms Ho’s career. The criminal charges in this case relate in part to sham bonds worth millions of dollars that the church bought from Xtron to channel church funds to the Crossover Project.

All six leaders’ committed zeal for the Crossover vision may have clouded their objectivity and judgment and obscured the need to safeguard money that was not theirs to use as they wished, said Judge See. They chose to create cover stories and clever round-trips concealing their unlawful conduct, he added.

“The allure of power that can be exercised in secrecy is difficult to resist. When shrouded under a cloak of invisibility, much like the mythical ring of Gyges, persons in such positions of power have no fear of accountability and tend to become their own worst enemies,” he wrote.

The ring of Gyges is a mythical artefact that grants its owner the power to become invisible at will, mentioned in Greek philosopher Plato’s The Republic.

Judge See wrote: “It has thus been wisely said that the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light, and if they choose not to come into the light they do so for fear that their deeds will be exposed, as they surely will in time.”

Kong would not have been able to act alone and could not orchestrate every move, and the five other leaders were both trusted and trusting, he added.

Noting that none of the six was aware of all the details, the judge said it could be because there were far too many moving parts in the plan for the Crossover to the United States, which grew more ambitious over time.

The US foray involved Ms Ho’s debut English album, which had hip-hop star Wyclef Jean roped in at one point. It led to the church’s sham bond investments worth S$24 million in Xtron and another company, and four of the leaders then misused another S$26.6 million of church funds to try to cover up the first amount.

“But this may have also been the inevitable consequence of CHC’s election to carry out its affairs and operations relating to the funding of the Crossover in a discreet fashion. This was merely a euphemism for a culture of insecurity mired in secrecy and opaqueness where asking difficult or awkward questions was taboo,” the judge wrote.

Separately, Kong broke his silence on the verdict on Thursday, posting on Facebook his belief that God would use the outcome of the case for good.

The pastor also thanked his supporters and said: “The days and steps ahead are challenging, but with God’s grace and love, I have no fear.”

The six will be back in court on Nov 20, where they could be sentenced.

All 6 in City Harvest Church trial found guilty of all charges

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/live-updates-verdict-city-harvest-church-trial-expected

chccollage6

(From top left, clockwise) City Harvest Church’s Kong Hee, John Lam, Serina Wee, Sharon Tan, Tan Ye Peng and Chew Eng Han have been found guilty of all charges on Oct 21, 2015. Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

They were ‘inextricably tangled’ in two conspiracies of misusing church monies, says judge

By Kelly Ng
kellyng@mediacorp.com.sg
Published: 9:14 AM, October 21, 2015

SINGAPORE — The six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders have been found guilty of various charges of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts.

CHC founder Kong Hee, his deputy Tan Ye Peng, former church accountant Serina Wee, former church finance manager Sharon Tan, former investment manager Chew Eng Han and former CHC board member John Lam were today (Oct 21) convicted of three to 10 charges each.

All six are out on bail. The bail stood at S$1 million each for Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng, John Lam and Chew Eng Han. The bail for Serina Wee and Sharon Tan was at $750,000 each. They are not allowed to travel.

Delivering his oral judgement this morning, Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon said that all six were “inextricably tangled” in two conspiracies of misusing church Building Fund monies to buy sham bond investments to finance the Crossover Project — which aims to use the music of church co-founder and Kong’s wife Sun Ho to evangelise — and thereafter misusing make church funds to cover up the first amount to defraud auditors by falsifying accounts. More than S$50 million was found to have been misappropriated.

JC See found that while Tan Ye Peng, Chew, Wee, Sharon Tan and Lam had acted in trust of Kong’s leadership, it does not exonerate them. “No matter how pure the motives and how ingrained the trust in leaders, these do not exonerate the accused persons.”

While the extents of their involvement were distinct, Judicial Commissioner (JC) See said none could be excluded from their implication in the conspiracy.

He added: “They had convinced themselves morally and legally permissible to temporarily use money from CHC funds when they knew it was not.”

JC See said he could not accept that the accused persons genuinely believe sale of Ms Ho’s albums would generate enough to redeem the bonds, and therefore cannot accept their claims that they believed the bond investments were genuine.

He also found that use of Building Fund monies to finance the Crossover shows dishonesty, as the Crossover “was not for the purposes (the fund was meant for) since by (the accused persons’) own admission it was meant to service mission”.

The prosecution will have to file written submissions by Nov 6, while the defence will file mitigation pleas by Nov 13. Oral submissions to be delivered on Nov 20 at 9.30am.

They will be sentenced at a later date.

Shortly after the judgement, Ms Sun Ho issued a statement on CHC’s Facebook page saying that the CHC Management Board are “disappointed by the outcome”. Ms Ho said Kong Hee and the rest are “studying the judgement intently and will take legal advice from their respective lawyers”.

CHC’s operations will continue, with the new management and new Church Board that were introduced in 2012 running the church, said Ms Ho who called on the church to “stay on course with CHC 2.0”.

“God is making us stronger, purer and more mature as a congregation,” she said on behalf of the CHC Management Board.

Separately, the National Council of Churches (NCCS) said it was “saddened” by the conviction of the six CHC leaders. “It is our hope and prayer that good will come out of this whole episode, especially as a reminder to pay greater attention on church governance in the matter of management of funds,” said the NCCS president Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup and NCCS General Secretary Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian in a statement.

NCCS also urged the Christian community to pray for the church, and noted: “NCCS wishes to assure all fellow Singaporeans that while it appreciates the freedom of worship in our nation, it will also guide and advise members of the Christian community to constantly observe the law of the land.”

My ABRSM Grade 4 piano practical marking sheet and cert

Not able to join choir status.

Pastor had received my letter and would like to talk to me on Sunday about it. I said it is a small issue just that the choir should told me directly if there is no opening rather than bringing up all these stuff to upset me. He will remind the choir to be more thoughtful of their approach. Then I said no need to meet on Sunday to talk about it. He said agreed but as a pastor if there is a need can approach him for a chat.

This Sunday just now I attended service to greet me asking me how am I and of course I said fine. Just thinking should I still keep attending this church as I have a feeling that my lifespan of attending churches become lesser and lesser as time goes by that I keep getting upset by people.

Bad incident not able to join 5pm Choir.

I just wrote a letter to Pastor Lee Yam Kai in charge of traditional worship music ministry for Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church Singapore send via courier.

This letter is for your info and my sharing. I hope you can read through this letter even you find no time to reply me. I had been enjoying coming to church and care group so just want to offer a help hand to serve in ministry. As you have spoken in sermon in last Sunday worship ministry not to seat down in pew do nothing but come to offer a hand.

I do not know who I can approach to ask for enquiry am I able to join 5pm choir as last year I join choir before and left due to some problem. So I message pastoral staff Justin mobile number to help me as last year he recommend me to join Zuriel cell group that I send request to church. So he reply my message that he pass my contact number to choir in charge to contact me.

So the choir in charge later call me stated that I am interested to join choir but Justin did not know to tell her I left the choir join before. So I told her this is not true as I have WhatsApp messages as a proof. She said that I have problem with choir in charge of morning service 8am Mr Peter Tan so if I join back sure will have the same issue back like the way he speak to me for me to hate him and left church. She also told me I thinking Mr. Peter Tan sing like that can be also support singer proof that the choir as of low standard. This had happen for a year ago, things will change as we learn forgive and forget to move on, like after church anniversary next month when I join back the choir, I can be friend with Mr. Peter Tan and choir will improve on. Lastly, she told me choir is not accepting anymore man as there is always men singing more than enough every week. So I was surprise as there are more than 10 ladies and 2 to 3 men singing most of the week only. Since this is the ministry decision to condemn me, I will not writing letter to ask you if can join choir again if not this is just to force them down the throat to join 5pm choir.

I do not know which ministry I can serve in as I had this bad incident already like in Asher people not happy punch my face or traffic marshal to knock down by car? As you see me church services, I do not have home church as I go many churches causing many problem to many brother and sister in Christ. Instead of consult pastor or leader, I pay money for a session with therapist or psychologist for advice as neutral and she said what do I want to do as she is not a priest or pastor? She said do I need a structured organization to know god. I decided and of course I do not need structured organization to know god.

Best Regard,

I just passed piano exam ABRSM grade 4

In order to pass the exam I need to get 100 marks, so I scored 100 out of 150 marks passed. Quite surprise as I done little practice not much preparation did not took leave for this exam except the day of exam. So this is the first time that I did my music practical exam before in my life.

I have my job and piano is not my income. This exam is more for me to test water to get some experience. Should be able to go grade 5 but some beginner stuff like sight reading need to take some time to learn as at most grade 1 to 2 level right now. Another piano teacher said pass exam is not easy, just good that I got a cert.

Previous piano teacher refunded my exam fee but also all piano lessons fee too.

Last post as I told her about my blog as written about piano exam, so she read about it her and about same day midnight she transfer S$1200 to my saving account. She said that she feel sorry if I unhappy about her teaching me piano but she tried her best. Now still waiting for the exam result as it will be out 3 weeks after exam from her.

I have a surplus of S$280, as 6 lessons I go to her house for lessons S$45 each, 13 lessons at my house S$50, so total will be S$920 and she refunded S$1200. I did not ask her for refund but she keep giving me money so I keep the money for my use. She is a Christian but very rich stay in condo drive a car but I am a poor chap Christian own no assets own many banks big debt.

Horrible experience going for ABRSM exam grade 4 piano for the first time in music practical exam.

This horrible experience is not due to bad examiner assigned by ABRSM or venue. It just that the preparation done was not enough from my previous teacher. She teach me about five months, a few times lesson schedule was change or she sick. She come in 25 Jan 2015 Sun first lessons and end on the 19th lessons in 05 July Sun. So average per month we have 3 lessons on sun as some weeks she go holiday, I sick, she sick, our first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew funeral ceremony for Singapore. So no make up was done on the same week like in weekday evening or weekend skip to next week instead as she is full of student to teach. She is indeed horrible and irresponsible teacher.

During the first lessons, I show her one exam pieces was ready and the next much harder done halfway plus a simple piece chosen make up to three exam pieces plus some scales done. So at the end of first lessons she said this is old pieces which I practice which this year is the last year can be used for exam. So she recommend for exam and I agreed as previous post below what I written. I was pretty struck in my lessons after a few months do not know what to do so end up stopping lessons revise on my own as they are pretty much to cover and prepare as she did not did it mostly sometimes she chat with me during lessons.

I do not know should I go for grade 5 exam to waste money in a year or two from now or wait until a few years at 40 years old take grade 8 if possible? Right now my current teacher is giving me grade one pieces to teach me to sight read well before playing it. Scales maybe fix later. She saw me playing grade 4 exam pieces and scales and sight reading but very disappointed wish me the best for the exam as she shared with me she go grade 3 exam also failed even taught by her teacher. Not so much covering done for grade 4 exam during a month with her before exam as my previous teacher said after I left the exam room today to tell her how my exam doing that she should be covering me grade 4 exam all the way. I did not explain to her why she did not do it and she wish me the best then I left the exam venue.

Before me, there is a grade 8 student a young lady in secondary school. She told to counter after come out of exam room that she practice no problem at home but come to exam room she forgotten most of it like most of it is eaten up not doing well feeling anxious inside. After me there is a very young boy doing grade 2 come with her mum, he seems do not know what songs to do as her mum taken up the exam book and asked him. Then my previous teacher come in to music school and his mum complaint why examiner take mc no backup or relief examiner. I thinking if she want to complaint do it after exam as now focus exam as money paid and effort time is put in. My previous teacher is asking me how am I preparing, I said I practice little and yesterday night prepare aural much before I enter into exam room to start my exam. After my exam I also told about her grade 8 student having difficulty and she said she is just a Malaysian being too hard on herself to me do not know is this real or not.

Just finish my ABRSM grade 4 piano exam but end up in failing likely for my first time taking music practical exam.

I had not been practicing much before exam. In end of January 2015 where a switch piano teacher in her first lessons we agreed to have exam in grade 4 about 6 month times and grade 5 next year. So she said grade 4 exam need to register soon about next week as the deadline is near.

Beginning of last month I intended to stop her lesson a while and maybe revise on my own, so see her the 4th lesson in mid of last month to discuss with her what are we going to do moving forward to the exam as the schedule is not out yet should we stop in 4th lessons or given a month of notice so that once the schedule is out we are just in time for exam and having a break after that as schedule should be out soon one month before the exam.

She taken that I want to stop lessons already immediately no need to come as on Saturday I send her a message that effectively tomorrow I may want to stop lessons want to discuss about it. Sunday afternoon is my regular piano lessons with her on 1.30pm. So she message me back said I can stop lessons anytime I want. I did not reply her back then. On Sunday 1.30pm, she message me again that what is my decision. I replied is she coming my house for lessons soon as this is the time normally we have lessons message come in right at the dot. So she message me to stop lessons. I replied her next time could she let me know earlier to stop lessons. So I decided to forgo S$50 for one lessons as I paid her every 4 lessons during the first lessons. She ask me for my bank account number so she refund me S$50, I replied my bank account number and she use ATM to do fund transfer. She message me again should I continue lessons with her once exam is over, I replied that I need to think about it told her to give up my time slot to other student instead now. She replied that she will kept her word to reserve the timeslot as after exam in beginning September I need to let her know if I continue lessons with her as the timeslot is taken away if not confirm.

So Monday mid of last month I approach music agent to recommend me piano teachers, so shortly in evening she message me after piano exam please find other piano teachers. I replied why. She said she knows from a piano agent that I looking for piano teachers, so she reckon I found piano teachers already. I told her I have not find piano teachers yet and said she is a horrible piano teacher and irresponsible too. I message also might as well no need to go exam and just wasted S$260 better. She encourage me to go for exam. Tomorrow she refund me S$260, replied this money just take it from her as encouragement to go exam. I replied to her this is simply crazy. She replied about Last Sunday she is having fever so last min cannot come my house for lessons. This money is simply out of her own pocket money not direct refund from ABRSM representative office. Tomorrow she message me that she called ABRSM representative office that send via to her e-mail in 22 July 2015 to know the exam date time and venue.

Later end of last month the exam schedule is out.  Exam date is Thursday 20 Aug 2015 10.42am near my house. On the exam day I took half day leave from work in the morning I receive her message that examiner is sick do not come for exam, later on she message make up is done same place same time in Sun 30 Aug 2015 so I no need to take leave from work as I wasted my leave already.

On the exam days, most scales I anyhow play so wrongly in many notes due to I learn the scale front to back the whole book in sequence. I already know my weakness that once they just randomly select scale ask me to play from my heart I couldn’t play well proper enough at least for many. Songs A part as I done video recording previously about 3 months could not play more than half skipping a lot of it as I cannot repeat. Song B no problem as I done video recording previously one year ago and in my youtube channel and this blog I improve as recorded three times before. Song C which today just record is a easy song, a bit of notes played wrongly 2 to 3 of them. Sight reading many notes almost all notes played wrongly and no rhythm. Aural manage to clap and sing well as it is easy, except the three question like is the notes play smooth or detach, characteristic of the music and the timing 2,3 or 4 I think can be at least two or all questions are wrong. Then I left the exam room and spoken to my teacher sitting outside explain to her how is the exam.

Swining Bells Grade 4 ABRSM exam 2013-2014 C3

This piece is just recorded this morning after I finish my piano exam in sun 30 Aug 2015