No points addressing the charges against the accused persons were brought up in court today by Chew Eng Han, who launched “in-depth into an attack on matters that are not relevant to the charge and … mens rea that is required in the charge.”
The case against the six defendants in the City Harvest trial took an uncertain turn today. Late into the afternoon, senior counsel for Tan Ye Peng, N Sreenivasan pointed out that co-defendant Chew Eng Han’s cross-examination of CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee did not address the charges but was an “attack on matters not relevant to the charge and matters not relevant to the mens rea that is required in the charge.”
Sreenivasan questioned if a norm would be set regarding Chew’s cross-examination. “Is Mr Chew going to be allowed in the course of this trial to throw stones left, right and centre and then take advantage of the leeway given to an accused in person? I think that will have an impact on this entire trial, the way it’s conducted and the conclusion, your Honour.”
From the get-go this morning, Chew launched into a fast and furious attack on his former senior pastor Kong Hee, covering “10 pages” of accusations, including:
Kong Hee’s Refunding Of Royalties
The court heard that Kong decided to refund his royalties received between 2006 to 2008 from Attributes Pte Ltd (APL) for his resource materials such as CDs and DVDs of his sermons. The refunded royalties then went from APL to CHC. Chew showed email evidence of Serina Wee reminding Wahju Hanafi about $200,000 for Kong, and that City Harvest Church Kuala Lumpur (CHCKL) had also given a sum of money to support Kong now that he no longer had his royalties. Chew labeled this as “round-tripping”.
Kong told the court, “I was blessed by a number of people that wanted to compensate me for the loss of royalties. If Wahju wanted to do that and he wanted to use his own company’s account to bless me and Serina was helping to administrate that out of her kindness of heart, I appreciate that. But if Eng Han is suggesting that I somehow engineered this, then I got to strongly say that I don’t agree.” He pointed out that he refunded $788,000 to APL, and the amounts that came back to him did not add up to the amount he had foregone. He had also paid tax on the original royalties.
“China Wine”—Comfort Or Discomfort?
Chew tried to raise apparent inconsistencies between Kong’s testimony last week about his wife Sun Ho’s discomfort over the “Asian reggae” direction that producer Wyclef Jean was setting out for her. Chew admitted an article in which Ho said “China Wine” was “a breath of fresh air” and told the court Ho and her dancers performed “China Wine” in the church on May 1, 2007. Chew accused Kong of flipping and turning on his convictions. Kong countered that “China Wine” was one song, but Sun was totally comfortable with “China Wine” but “from one song to a dozen songs of the same genre, she felt that that was not a natural fit for her.”
Ho’s Royalties and Salaries In The Multi-Purpose Account (MPA)
Chew told the court that it was in 2010 that he saw the accounting for the MPA. A group of 28 couples and a few others, including Kong, Ho, as well as Chew and his wife—were givers into the account. The monies were meant for Kong and Ho’s livelihood, but Kong told the court that they also used it for Crossover-related missions expenses.
Chew’s beef was with an entry of royalties and salaries placed under the income column which was actually a deduction from the MPA. Kong explained that they did not want Xtron or Ultimate Assets or the joint venture with Justin Herz Management to pay her royalties from the singles, so the money could be maximized for album production, hence the amount of royalties and salaries was instead drawn down from the MPA. This caused a shortfall in the MPA accounting.
Kong expressed his gratitude to the MPA givers, saying that he would not do anything to jeopardize his relationship with them because “they have entrusted their precious resources to help me and my wife fulfill the vision that we had in the Crossover Project.” He added, “But if Eng Han and his wife felt that I have let them down because I did not reveal what Sun was drawing down for her royalties and salaries, which the MPA givers had already, on numerous occasions said, “This is for your livelihood”, then I’m sorry he felt that way. Perhaps it would have been better, with the benefit of hindsight, if I just put it down under the expense column, but it would make no difference to the deficit at the end.”
Why The US Album Was Discontinued
Chew continued in a bid to press Kong for answers on fiscal responsibility. He pointed out that after the raid and Ho had been interviewed by the CAD, he had told Kong that Ho should return to the US so that the returns on the album could begin to come in and investment recouped. Kong pointed out that “with me having this investigation,with the church being in a very precarious situation,it’s just not humanly possible for my wife to continue with the Crossover Project, with all that was happening.” He pointed out that unlike Chew, who might be “an emotional Superman”, he and his wife and the church leadership were affected by the investigations. “I think as the co-founder of this church, we all needed her to be around, and it was the right decision we have made,” Kong said.
Kong’s Arise & Build Giving
In an attack on Kong’s personal giving, Chew accused Kong of going on the pulpit to encourage members to pledge towards the church building fund, and filled in a pledge card on stage, but had not actually pledged. Kong refuted this. The senior pastor explained that in the first season of Arise & Build, the building fund campaign, from 1997 to 2003, he and Ho pledged and gave $1 million. But in the second season, from 2005 to 2010, because of the great need of the Crossover Project for funds, he and Ho gave towards the Crossover. “I didn’t make pledges over six months, your Honour, but during those relevant seasons, I would have given to the Arise & Build as well, but I will have given and put it down as a offering. So did I give to the church? I think if you take the totality of our missions programme, our church offerings and towards — even during the relevant period of the Building Fund, I think the totality of the amount that we give every year was a sizeable amount out of the income that we had.”
Worried But Not In Fear
Chew tried to get Kong to admit that the CAD investigations had put him “in fear”. Kong replied that he was worried but not in fear. “I feel Eng Han should not mix up inactivity or he should not mix up being—having a quiet and subdued spirit to mean that we are in fear.”
Chew questioned Kong at length about the day of the CAD raid, and asked him again, “Do you agree you were in fear when the CAD raided?”
Kong replied, “I was in shock, I was worried, first for my family. I was worried for my church. But, no, I was not in fear. I knew that God was in control, and I just trusted in Him.”
Court resumes at 9.30am tomorrow.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：前基金经理宣泄个人不满；今日皆未提及控诉