City Harvest Church (CHC) founder and senior pastor Kong Hee will be going to jail on Friday.
In a late-night statement he put up on his Facebook page, and also distributed through his lawyers, Kong confirmed he will not be requesting to stay his jail sentence or take his case up to the Court of Appeal, even though prosecutors have done so.
This means even though the case involving him and five other CHC leaders is still pending — i.e. the Court of Appeal may possibly lengthen his and/or their sentences — he will serve out his three-and-a-half-year jail term anyway.
It's also the first time Kong apologised for what he had done, both to the public and to his church members.
Here's his statement in full:
These past 7 years have been immensely challenging for me and my family. Although I am saddened that my conviction was not set aside at the appeal, I am very grateful that the High Court has granted me a fair hearing, and has allowed my appeal and reduced the sentence.
I am thankful that the Court has found that there was never any sinister or malicious plan by any of the accused persons to strip the church of its funds. I had acted in the church’s best interest, something which the Court also accepted, although I accept responsibility for the manner in which I had sought to bring the Crossover Project to fruition in using the building fund.
As the senior pastor of City Harvest Church since its beginning in 1989, I have always had the church’s best interests at heart and will always continue to do so.
I have, in these past weeks since the release of the judgment, reflected deeply. I have come to terms with what is ahead and am at peace. I will therefore start serving my sentence on 21 April 2017. Over the last few weeks, I have tried to spend as much time as possible with my family, whom I will miss very dearly. I was also grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate this Easter with my congregation and all its members. My heart is warmed by the love and support which have been showered on me and my family, not only in the past weeks but also in the years leading up to the present verdict.
I understand that the Prosecution has filed a Criminal Reference to the Court of Appeal, so this case is not yet over. We will have to meet the Prosecution’s case when this is heard. I have consulted with my lawyers on this, and will leave the legal question to be resolved by the Court. My future is, as always, in God’s hands.
I am extremely saddened by the prospect of having to leave my family and church, and yearn to see them again after serving my sentence. However, I am ready to face what is to come with the peace and grace of God in my heart.
As I reflect on the prospect of starting my sentence, I wish to thank all those who have supported me in one way or another in this difficult period, including the church and its members, my family and friends, and other well-wishers.
I would also like to thank my lawyers for their professionalism in their legal representation, and for being so unselfish with their time.
To all I have disappointed, stumbled and hurt in my congregation, in the Body of Christ at large, and in the public, I am truly sorry. I have made unwise decisions in the past that have led me to where I am today. I am filled with grief and regret over my mistakes and I sincerely ask for your forgiveness.
Finally, and most importantly, to the members of City Harvest Church and to my beloved family, thank you for your unwavering love, prayers and support. I am sorry for putting you all unfairly through this painful ordeal. I will miss you very much. You will always be in my thoughts and prayers.
Here's his Facebook post with his statement:
Top photo by Chiew Teng