Church informs SDP it cannot rent auditorium for campaign launch 26 hours before event

Kingdom Community Church initially said all events were called off because of a JTC inspection, but later changed their tune.

Andrew Koay | February 24, 2019, 09:40 AM

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) experienced a major hiccup one day before their big campaign launch.

They were informed they no longer had a venue to hold their event.

Cancelled 26 hours before launch

The party's event organisers were told at noon a day prior to the Saturday, Feb. 23 launch that the venue in the building at Eunos Avenue 3 could no longer be utilised.

The venue was supposed to be a 200 pax capacity auditorium operated by Kingdom Community Church Ventures Pte Ltd.

It is a company that SDP said is the business arm of Kingdom Community Church, a local Christian church.

The religious organisation holds its services in the venue the SDP had booked.

Screenshot of the original venue from We are Spaces

Moved to Mandarin Orchard hotel

The party's launch event was eventually moved to a ballroom at the Mandarin Orchard hotel.

Last-minute scramble

A post on SDP chief Chee Soon Juan's Facebook page on Friday, Feb. 22, said KCC Ventures "suddenly emailed" the political party to inform it that the event was cancelled.

Chee wrote:

“We spent the entire day trying to persuade the company to honour its contract but to no avail. After some frenzied searching, we found another venue at Mandarin Orchard. We are the SDP, we never say die.”

Shifting reasons?

According to an email the party shared with Mothership, KCC Ventures had initially cancelled the event citing a "last-minute unforeseen JTC (JTC Corporation) inspection".

Screenshot of email correspondence between SDP and KCC Ventures, courtesy of SDP

Speaking to Mothership on Saturday at their launch event, Chee described his puzzlement at the last-minute cancellation.

“We said, ‘Why only the day before?’ If there was a JTC inspection, surely you would have known ahead of time.”

In an email to Mothership, SDP vice-chairman John Tan said he personally called JTC and learned that no such inspection was happening.

JTC confirmed in the following post on Facebook that not only was there no inspection scheduled for Feb. 23, it was in fact investigating the location for "unauthorised sublet activities" since Christmas eve last year:

JTC also did confirm, as they did in Tan's call to them, that they had an inspection planned for Thursday (Feb. 28).

Tan said that KCC Ventures eventually told him in a follow-up call that the reason for the cancellation was that the building management was "insistent that political activities aren't allowed in the premises".

According to the venue rental agreement that was seen by Mothership, the only clause involving cancellation on the venue's side stated that a full refund would be provided in the event of "unforeseen circumstances".

In a last-ditch effort, Tan said they sent an email to the senior pastor of Kingdom Community Church, asking him to reconsider the cancellation.

At the time of writing, they said they have yet to hear from the pastor.

In his speech on Saturday afternoon, party chairman Paul Tambyah said the SDP had booked the venue at the end of 2018, and that it was clear in their application that it was being booked by the party in its political capacity.

The SDP also showed Mothership the following invoice from KCC Ventures that was addressed specifically to the SDP:

Invoice from KCC Ventures to SDP, courtesy of SDP

Another document provided by the SDP showed that KCC Ventures knew from September 2018 that the SDP planned to use the auditorium for their campaign launch.

Quotation from KCC Ventures to the SDP, courtesy of SDP

According to Tambyah, the party is exploring possible legal avenues to recoup the difference in costs between the church premises rental and Mandarin Orchard hotel—the latter of which set them back by significantly more.

Mothership has reached out to KCC Ventures and Kingdom Community Church for more information about the incident and will update this article if they respond.

Top image of venue from We are Spaces, right photo by Andrew Koay