This morning, former City Harvest fund manager Chew Eng Han concluded his cross-examination of his former senior pastor Kong Hee.
In the round-up of his cross-examination of Kong Hee, Chew Eng Han today began by accusing Kong of inflating the church’s attendance when he gave evidence last week on Aug 11, that the Crossover had resulted in doubling or even tripling the attendance of the church. The senior pastor and founder of the church had told the court that the Crossover had a global as well as a local effect in that the Singapore church grew from 10,000 to 28,000 in 2009, and reached 32,000 in one particular month in 2009.
Using the attendance forecasts and the seating capacity of the church Jurong West auditorium and that of Singapore Expo Hall 8, Chew suggested that Kong had “grossly over-exaggerated the attendance” of the church.
Kong corrected three assumptions taken by Chew. Firstly, Chew had not taken into consideration all of the other congregations within CHC; secondly, the forecast of attendance, a new piece of evidence produced by Chew, was based on the church’s cell group count. Kong told the court that the church had walk-in attendees and visitors on a weekly basis who are not included into those figures. Lastly, Chew had based his calculation of seating capacity on his own estimation. Kong suggested that Chew clarify these estimates with church’s administration that dealt with statistics on the authenticity of the attendance figures.
Admissibility Of Evidence: Transcript Of Recording
Throughout the course of his cross-examination of Kong, Chew had attempted to admit as evidence, a transcript of the recording of a four-and-a-half hour meeting between Kong, Sun Ho, Chew and his wife, Janet Chong. Some of the defense counsel had questioned the admissibility of this transcript as it contained privileged information with regard to their clients.
This morning again saw Chew asking Kong to refer to this transcript, maintaining that it would help him to show his (Chew’s) state of mind, and what he believed to be his motivation for helping to finance the Crossover.
The judge allowed Chew to proceed with the questioning as long as he did not broach into redacted portions.
The friendship of Chew, Kong and Tan was revealed today as part of the substance of the transcript. It was heard that in December 2012, following the suspension of a number of CHC leaders by the Commissioner of Charities, Chew wanted to “fight” the COC and Kong also wanted to challenge the suspension, but the others did not wish to. Chew then read from the transcript: “I’m sick of this united thing.” He felt the others emphasized “unity” above “truth”.
He also read from the transcript that at that meeting, Kong had called him and Tan “long-time warriors for me”. He underscored that with the question, “It meant that I fought for you when you were under attack, right?” He went on to describe how he “fought” for Kong, and Kong conceded that Eng Han had been a “very good co-labourer” with him.
The court heard that the recording was made by Chong without the knowledge of Kong, Ho and Chew. Chew said that it was only after he reached home late that night after the meeting that Chong had told him she recorded the conversation. Chong subsequently transcribed the recording for Chew to present it as new evidence.
The court heard that Chew had wanted Kong and Ho to address issues found in the Commissioner of Charities’s report after its investigations—Chew and Chong did not want to wait till the court proceedings for members to find out details. Kong, on the other hand, had concerns about the legal implications of doing so, and whether it would be considered subjudice to do so.
Defense lawyers Edwin Tong for Kong and N Sreenivasan for Tan Ye Peng stood up to request for Chong to be absent from the rest of trial proceedings on account that she has now become a potential defense witness with regards to this new evidence.
The Hunt For A New Building For CHC
Chew led the court through the process of the church’s acquisition of a new space for City Harvest Church. When it came down to a decision between the piece of land that the old Capitol building sat on, and Suntec Convention Centre, Chew tried to show that Kong preferred Suntec because he wanted to complete the acquisition quickly in order to deflect criticism from Internet trolls.
Chew said the Capitol property was his preference, and together with his AMAC partner, he had found a co-buyer who was willing to collaborate with CHC to acquire this property. However, Kong, together with Tan Ye Peng and church staff member Suraj, expressed that his preference was for Suntec, given its location and potential to bring in revenue. Added to that, he had received a prophecy in 1995 from a mentor pastor Phil Pringle that they would one day hold their services in Suntec.
Kong maintained that the choice of acquiring Suntec was because of the size of the arena, the location, and the facilities for the church on a weekly basis. Comparatively, the Capitol property had to be built from scratch and construction costs could potentially escalate in the process. So, despite the Capitol option being cheaper in terms of rent per year at $8m, and Suntec at $13.5m, the building committee decided to go ahead to acquire Suntec.
In wrapping up his cross-examination of Kong, Chew declared to the court that Kong does not love the church because, among other reasons, he refused to send his wife, Ho, back to the US to complete the album so that revenue could come back to the sponsors, and that Kong had “defrauded” the multi-purpose account givers by “hiding” the royalties and salaries from the MPA accounts.
To these Kong replied that Ho, as the co-founder of the church, was needed in Singapore to help the church which was “in crisis”, and that the royalties and salaries in the MPA accounts were essentially for his and Ho’s livelihood—the original intent of the MPA funds.
Court resumed at 2.15pm.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：“长期战士”周结束对康希进行的交叉质询