City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee surrendered himself at State Courts on a rain-drenched Friday (Apr. 21), commencing his 3.5 years jail term, pending the outcome of a Criminal Reference filing at the Court of Appeal by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
Kong, along with four of the other convicts in the CHC case – Sharon Tan, John Lam, Tan Ye Peng and Serina Wee – are commencing their jail terms on the same day.
The remaining criminal in the case, Chew Eng Han, who was originally due to go to jail on Apr. 21 as well, was granted deferment on his sentence two days ago. He will only start serving his sentence after the final stage of the CHC case in the Court of Appeal is over.
On the same day that Chew was granted his deferment, Kong had said in late night Facebook post that he would not be appealing the High Court’s verdict delivered on Apr. 7.
In brief remarks to the media, he said: “I am totally at peace and I’m grateful to God for this. I have nothing more to say, just let me thank my friends.”
52-year-old Kong’s incarceration marks a dramatic fall from grace for someone who had built a huge following based on his “prosperity gospel” preachings and snazzy image, but eventually paid the price when the law caught up with him for misappropriating millions from the church’s funds to fund his wife, Sun Ho’s music career, in the name of a Crossover Project to convert non-believers to Christianity.
Away from the adulations and reverence of trusting CHC members, life in prison will be a far cry from the conspicuous high life he has lived over the years, as a mark of success and religious devotion.
On Apr. 7, Judge of Appeal Chao Tick Hin, Justices Woo Bih Li and Chan Seng Onn in a split decision, had reduced the sentences of the six City Harvest convicts from 21 months to 8 years, to between 7 months and 3.5 years.
The case is not over yet, as the AGC is seeking to reinstate the original convictions for Kong Hee and his fellow church leaders, in its Criminal Reference filing with the Court of Appeal to address a question of law that is of public interest.
The Court of Appeal is the highest court in the land. It makes the final judgement on all cases that moves up to it in Singapore.
Top photo from City News