Kong Hee could be out of jail in 2 years 4 months due to S'pore's two-third remission system

All six City Harvest Church leaders can be released after serving two-thirds of sentence.

Belmont Lay | April 07, 2017, 11:40 AM

In Singapore, a jail term imposed as punishment is the full number of years a convicted person has to serve.

However, most offenders will be released at the two-third mark of their sentence.

This is according to Singapore's remission system for ex-offenders.

The current Conditional Remission System and Mandatory Aftercare Scheme which took effect on July 1, 2014, is slightly stricter than the previous remission system, which saw ex-offenders released without condition.

But it just means offenders can be released back into society provided they meet certain conditions.

From the Singapore Prison Service website:

This will be replaced by the Conditional Remission System (CRS), which seeks to deter ex-offenders from re-offending by subjecting them to conditions upon their release. Most ex-offenders will generally still be released at the two-thirds mark of their sentence, with the basic condition of not to re-offend during the remission period and be sentenced to an imprisonment term (excluding a default sentence) or given any other sentence such as reformative training, corrective training and preventive detention.

The purpose of this to support ex-offenders in staying crime-free and deter them from re-offending.

This also means that City Harvest Church (CHC) co-founder Kong Hee and five of his fellow church leaders who have successfully appealed to reduce their sentences previously handed out to them on November 2015, might just serve shorter sentences than what has been reported.

This is what all six of them will serve if they abide by the two-thirds remission rule:

- Kong Hee, 52, CHC founder, gets 3 years 6 months, reduced from 8 years

Two-thirds sentence: 2 years 4 months

- Serina Wee, 40, former CHC finance manager, gets 2 years 6 months, reduced from 5 years.

Two-thirds sentence:1 year 8 months

- Tan Ye Peng, 44 , deputy senior pastor, gets 3 years 2 months, reduced from 5 1/2 years.

Two-thirds sentence: 2 years 1 month-plus

- Chew Eng Han, 56, former CHC fund manager, gets 3 years 4 months, reduced from six years.

Two-thirds sentence: 2 years 2 months-plus

- Sharon Tan, 41, former CHC finance manager, gets 7 months, reduced from 21 months.

Two-thirds sentence: 4 months-plus

- John Lam, 49, former CHC finance committee member, gets 1 year 6 months, reduced from 3 years.

Two-thirds sentence: 12 months

In a split decision, a three-judge panel meted out reduced jail sentences for all six leaders on convictions of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts on Friday morning, April 7, 2017.

This puts an end to a long-running case which included a 142-day trial that started in 2013.

In a split decision, the court allowed their appeals against conviction and found them guilty of a less serious charge of criminal breach of trust.

All six requested for deferment before they start their jail terms.

Sharon Tan requested for a deferment of two months. The rest asked for a two-week deferment.

Delivering their ruling, the judges said the appellants were in a situation that involved no personal gain.

They believed that their acts would advance the interest of the church and accepted that the Crossover project was genuinely endorsed by the church.

The judges agreed that Kong Hee's overall culpability is the greatest as he is the spiritual leader and this is reflected in his jail term.

Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, and Justices Woo Bih Li and Chan Seng Onn delivered their verdict in a packed courtroom that saw supporters lining up to enter since 1am.

Top photo by Chiew Teng