Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Pastor, where's my money?!"

The current talk of the town, I believe, would be the news on how five members of City Harvest Church (CHC), including founding pastor Kong Hee, have been arrested by the Commercial Affairs Department and will be charged in court tomorrow for "alleged criminal breach of trust". Reportedly, investigations have revealed "financial irregularities of at least S$23 million" (emphasis mine) and that there was a "concerted effort" to cover up these irregularities through the falsifying of accounts. Allegedly, the misused funds were used to "finance the music career of Ho Yeow Sun, who is Pastor Kong's wife and co-founder of the church."

[Aside #1: I checked and as of 26 June 2012 6.55pm, there has been no official statement from CHC about the news above on its website. And at the same time, Kong Hee's latest tweet, at about 6pm, was "Tough day ... I trust in You, Lord Jesus ... Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done!".]

I first got wind of the above this afternoon from a TV report by Channel News Asia. Since then, I formed a few preliminary thoughts and questions.

Firstly, I suppose after two years of investigation, the authorities must have been very certain that there have been financial misconduct amounting to a criminal act at CHC by the five individuals involved before they decided to arrest and charge them. If not, I doubt the authorities would have moved against the high-profile and popular founding pastor of a church which is known to have a large membership. Thus, although there will be those who may allege that there is a "conspiracy" against CHC, I believe the five individuals are quite likely to be guilty of the charges brought against them.

[Aside #2: According to the Singapore Police Force's media release on this case, the charges brought against these five individuals are no trivial charges. If found guilty, these five individuals can be fined, sentenced to 10 - 20 years imprisonment or both.]

And it is my opinion that CHC will most likely be quite negatively affected by this latest news. I say this because although some may argue that CHC is bigger than Kong Hee and the other four individuals, Kong Hee, as the founding father of the church, is evidently greatly influential in/over CHC. His position is perhaps analogous to that of Lee Kuan Yew whom, despite no longer having any official government appointment, still perhaps retain a considerable amount of influence. Hence, CHC's reputation is likely to suffer quite a significant hit and it will perhaps suffer a drop in membership, especially if and when Kong Hee is found guilty of the charges brought against him.

In addition, I am predicting that there will be a slew of anti-CHC (or even anti-Christian) remarks made online following this latest news. As it is, CHC already perhaps attract much criticism for what many see as its flawed theology, excess and extravagance. For example, it is my observation that a common derogatory term used online to describe CHC is "Cash Harvest Church". Of course, conversely, there will be those who will stoutly defend CHC and/or Kong Hee - believing in his innocence and perhaps alleging that there is a "conspiracy" against him and CHC.

Moving on, as the title of this post suggests, one main question I have after hearing about this news is "what was the funds being misused for?"  That is, besides the $23 million misused to finance the music career of Sun Ho who is Kong Hee's wife, were there other funds that were misused and for what purpose? For how long were funds being misused? I suppose more details will slowly emerge as the case develops; so stay tuned.

In the end, compared with the NKF and Ren Ci cases, I think this CHC case will most probably have a more significant and longer-lasting impact, in light of the high-profile and "religious" nature of CHC. NKF was high-profile but not "religious" and although Ren Ci was both high-profile and "religious", CHC is, I believe, more high-profile and more "religious", in that CHC is a church while Ren Ci was a hospital founded and managed by a member of a religious order.


bluexpresso said...

haha... Cash Harvest Church... LOL... good one whoever came up with that

Anonymous said...

It is sad there are so many feeble minded people who blindly trust 'man of God' as they call Kong.
Kong if guilty is a typical professional con man. Sweet talk couple with wrapping himself in 'religious' shield to cheat these folks who give generously. Sigh - what charity ? Feeding a con man and his wife only.

url said...

the truth will come to light somehow.
Nothing will be hidden..ww are talking about millions of dollars not a small sum. This serves as a reminder to all... so called mega churches that is in Singapore and why not Malaysia as well?
Serve the people not money.
We need to be reminded that ACTION speaks louder than the mere words on a pulpit

David vs Goliath said...

I have been a church member for more than 30 years. I am a born-again Christian. It is sad that CHC members are so naive and blinded to STILL trust a Cinman extraordinaire....
Sadly there are MANY who use religion to cheat the masses.
These professional conmen know how to prey on their congregation.
Look at the life of Jimmy Swaggart.
Just imagine what 50 million dollars can do for the truly needy??

And not misspent tp propel Kong's wife to fame


Anonymous said...

Ahhh.... Money the root of all evil

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