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Sunday November 19th 2017

Political Reason Why City Harvest Church Faces Financial Irregularities’ Charges?

Latest update: The court case against the City Harvest trio is scheduled to be in May 2013.

The jury is still out there but many Singaporeans have already nailed down the City Harvest Church’s (CHC) pastors as guilty until proven innocent.

It is the biggest fraud  case faced by any charity or church to date and will probably keep the nation on its’ toes when they face up to the court in July.

Many Singaporeans are also sceptical that Kong Hee and his pastors will escape merely with  just a fine as the amount misappropriated seems large – $50 million and the Criminal Affairs Department (CAD) hardly dares to fully investigate a mega church unless it has strong enough evidence to successfuly prosecute the wrongdoers.

We are  ta,king about transferring  church’s funds to sham investment vehicles purportedly to fund Sun Ho’s music career in the US even though the church has declared that nothing is lost through such transaction and no one has personally  benefits from the transaction.

So far, no  one single church has being brought to court  before for any money-related scandal and how the Christian community reacts to the verdict will be crucial for the cordial religious harmony the country so proudly uphold all this while.

ur local churches are known to be very law-abiding and seldom does any pastor openly criticise the government from the pulpit or privately.

Of course, churches like Lighthous% has been brought to task before for criticisng other religions but it does not warrant a court case to be heard.

Moreover, Sun Ho’s music career is already shrouded in controversy for a long while  as many Christians have questioned why the pastor’s wife – herself a  pastor at CHC, dips to wearing revealing clothes and mixing with the world to try and save non-Christians.

CHCe27s  infamous loud cries for regular tithing has also caused many worshippers to leave the church.

Christians have to tithe 10% of their income to the church and many churches have enforced this religiously so that their coffers are always overflowing.

CHC may be the first church in Singapore to allow Giro payment ofktithes – via their credit cards.

I remembered emptying my savings of close to $8000 – saved laboriously from my miserable $2500/month pay check –  for a church expansion programme while worshopping with another mega church almost 15 years ago.

It seemed the right thing to do then and though I have no regrets, I am abit more careful now when churches start to preach too much on tithings and money.

Pastors will also use the slogan “Tithe so that God will return to you many fold%2r to persuade worshippers to tithe regularly.

If I want to tithe so that I can have a better  return on my giving  then I feel that there is some selfish belief on my part.

I would prefer to give out of love for my God and that the church needs my tithes in order to provide a place of  worship for  it’s flock.

I also want to ensure that my tithes go to the pastor and his family so that he has enough to eat and care for his young  children.

If my tithes go to promoting someone’s music career or for any other purposes, I want to have  fuller transparency on how this is done.

I have also known of some missionary friends who literally have to beg for money when they are abroad preaching the gospel.

 Not many churches nowadays really provide enough support to missionaries slaving away in third world countries under harsh living conditions.

Moreover, how much I tithe and whether I should tithe regularly is something between God and me and I find that no one can force me to tithe or make me  feel guilty if I didn’t tithe enough.

I also always wonder why mega churches with multi-million dollar reserves still want so much money in their coffers.

It is estimated that the weekly tithes collected at mega churches like CHC and New Creation Church could amount to a few million dollars base on the size of their congregation.

Both CHC and New Creation Church have a total combined worship congregation of 50,000 people alone.

The fancy cars that pastors drive and their luxurious condos that they stay in also make me wonder if the church needs my money – however little it is.

Sun Ho was  rumoured to stay in a $28, 000/month luxurious mansion in Hollywood  while she tried to use her music to touch the world.

On a personal note, I have  worshipped in one mega church before whose senior pastor drove a fanciful sports car and stayed in a penthouse.

He tried defending his luxuries in the pulpit stating that his wife is a top earner but it is difficult to reconcile with the fact that many ordinary worshippers try to tithe regularly to the church whereas pastors could live such a luxurious lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for pastors living comfortably and not  to lead a poor man’s life but when you are caught with a sports car and penthouse lifestyle,  tongues will wag  a little and you will have a tough time defending yourself.

Many Christians I know also feel that after they have tithe they will totally allow the pastors to have full say in what to do with their money – however dubious it may be.

They felt that the pastors are answerable to God if there is anything amiss.

I believe that Christians ought to dig abit deeper on how their tithes are being used.

Surely not many people will know that $50 million of tithe money was transferred to an investment fund at CHC.

What will they do if they have known about such transaction? I am sure many people will not readily approve of such a massive transfer of donated money.

There is a thin line drawn here between faith entrusted in God’s appointed people and financial irregularities.

I have always feel that there is alot of ambiguity in our financial system especially those that belongs to the charities. There are many  loopholes that can be easily exploited if any charity wants to go out of line.

Moreover, any charities that are flushed with more than $10 million in reserves have this huge temptation to make better use of the money than let it sitting idle in the reserve bank. As for CHC, their reserves probably exceed $100 million.

The pastors implicated here might have manipulated a transaction out of the reserve  thinking that it is alright and within the law whereas apparently it is perceived as a financial irregularity by the law.

I believe that it  is tough for the group of CHC pastors  to escape  after reading through the charges thoroughly. Jail sentences are also expected to be meted out to the culprits if they are found guilty of the charges.

I have also met two friends who worshipped in CHC recently  and they told me there is speculation that the church was implicated due to political reason!

They mentioned that the pastors did not try to befriend the government by inviting them for church events like what FCBC and NCC did and so the church could be perceived as anti-establishment.

I was shocked to hear of this speculation and reminded myself not to fuel this serious allegation further.

Nevertheless, it does make some sense to bring down a charismatic pastor of a mega-church especially if there is any perception that the leadership is seen as  anti-establishment.

Our government is uncomfortable if a popular religious leader is seen as leaning too much to the left as whatever he says on the pulpit carries much weight.

I remembered how Senior Pastor Rick Seaward of Calvary Charismatics was knocked down when he  preached from the pulpit many years ago calling Singapore to be a Christian nation.

He was severely criticised by the government in a White Paper report and thoroughly investigated by the home affairs ministry.

As religion is still a sensitive issue here, how the government tackles this financial irregularity case has massive implication on the whole Christian community.

More than 25% of the population here  professes to believe in the Christian faith and the government does not want to allow the churches to develop a seige mentality that they are being targetted for persecution due to CHC  alleged anti-establishment stance.

There is   nothing in CHC  church services  suggesting   such an  allegation though.

However, the government will be cautious to go too hard on the church as the congregation consists of mostly Generation Y young people between the age of 21 to 35 years old – the group that the government has difficulty trying to reach out to and are seen as anti-establishment.

More worrying is the strong youth presence within the church as CHC has a effective youth outreach programme that touches many lives from those studying in the polytechnics and universities. They will cling on to every word that their charismatic pastor says and may even plunge into depression if their favourite pastors are found guilty and jailed.

Yet there is also another speculation surfacing   that the church was persecuted because many government officers were  recently hauled up by CPIB for sex and money corruption.

It is a good distraction  tactic used very often by the government so that the population will not focus too much on its dirty linen.

As a Christian myself, I do not want to see any pastors being persecuted for any financial irregularities but the long arm of the law seems to have caught up with the mega-church this time.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that if there is any jail sentence imposed on the pastors, it will be minimal and used more as a deterrance than a punitive punishment.

Let us all forgive and move on…

Written by: Gilbert Goh

 

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Reader Feedback

21 Responses to “Political Reason Why City Harvest Church Faces Financial Irregularities’ Charges?”

  1. Oh Tham Eng says:

    Well written article by Mr Gilbert Goh

  2. kaffir lime says:

    “I also always wonder why mega churches with multi-million dollar reserves still want so much money in their coffers.”

    coincidentally, the same question is being asked about singapore’s sovereign wealth funds by some people.

  3. anon says:

    Always the same whenever too much money has been collected, and the collection is mandated as compulsory. The overflowing coffers with constant weekly and monthly inputs of new money will always tempt the so-called caretakers to misuse or abuse the money.

    E.g. town councils with their hundreds of millions of excess funds — end up in toxic investments. And official govt conclusion is “shit happens”, let’s move on. But still demand monthly payments from ordinary people to add on to the hundreds of millions already sitting there.

    Another e.g. Govt revenue surplus and our CPF money in the hundreds of billions are being transferred or loaned to GIC and Temasek. With overflowing new money being transferred to them, they simply are being encouraged to take unreasonable risks with the money. The GIC and TH staff will lose their jobs if they simply park the money in govt bonds earning 1% interest, so they are motivated and incentivised by $1,000,000 bonuses to use the money to speculate in overseas banks and commodity companies. Anyway they feel no pain as the money is not from their own pockets.

  4. jj says:

    I have attended CHC service before. They kept on asking people to donate money. They claimed that you will be blessed by donating your money to the church.

  5. oz says:

    from your past writings, you have basically shown that your belief is in the far-left.

    • jj says:

      I always wrote Nil in the religion column on job or other application forms.

      I attended the CHC services coz my brother was with CHC. Christians always like to invite their friend or family members to join them in church services.

      Buddhism or taoism or islam friends will talked to me about their religions. Buddhism or taoism friends will also asked me to join them in religious services too.

      When you are down with luck or suffered depression or felt lonely etc, religious personel or fortune telling personel or conman/conwoman will come near you. So better stay calm & alert.

  6. Randy says:

    stick w what you know Gilbert Goh, help people find jobs, this article you have written, exposes your true agenda, which has a heavy political undertone. Remember, it is 5 individuals from CHC being charged, not CHC. if you cannot make this distinction, refrain from tell people how little you know. Thanks. I cannot support you for what you have expressed, good bye.

  7. ACL says:

    If the church is upright, then no one would be able to persecute it, not even the authorities for they wouldn’t be able to find fault with it. Therefore, let’s stop speculating and see what happens next.

  8. Stauch Non-believer says:

    1) This website is supposed to help the jobless. Stay clear of religious issues. The jobless situation is not only dependent on the world economy but also our government policies. I can accept articles that is critical of the government.

    2) Please do not use stock photos for articles in this website as they give a misleading first impression.

  9. Joel says:

    I feel that Kong Hee and his band of thiefs should be jailed for live. Imagine the hurt and harm they have caused for those who trusted them with their hard earned money….and particularly in “hijacking” the name of God. This is something that is highly offensive!

  10. Chin Tu lan says:

    Yes Gilbert,I remembered Mr Rick Seaward being brought down.
    Me and my girl pay for his queen’s counsel fees…a bit only lah.Still remembered the 2 big barrel where the congregation were encouraged to throw money into it as love offering for his counsel.

  11. facts says:

    r seawrd is still working and living in SG.

  12. easy says:

    hey Gilbert

    overall a great article some interesting assumption with a historical fig like Rick Seaward. anyway we really do not know, however if a pastor or religious leader as per say is found to be involve in financial irregularities. It is wiser for him to come clean about it then hiding behind the religious veil. As what you have mentioned, it will be a detrimental for the CHC followers to see the sentence being pronounce.

    Anyway in the bible, it has clearly 1 Tim 6:6-10 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. THOSE WHO WANT TO GET RICH FALL INTO TEMPTATION AND A TRAP and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

    Well most prosperity gospel preachers does not seem to believe in Paul’s adherence any longer.

    See the video link: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/unreported-world/4od#3268166

  13. jj says:

    The Jews & Arabs are the among the many ethnic groups living in the middle east, africa & europe regions. Many of them are nomads & merchants. They conquered others or being conquered by others & became slaves.

    They absorbed, integrated, modified beliefs that they have contacted. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are the three famous religions being created.

  14. jj says:

    Jesus was also not born on December 25th.

    December 25th used to be the birthday of the Mithras god in ancient Rome. But the christians in Rome don’t want ppl to worship the Mithras god so they said Jesus was born on December 25th & ppl should celebrate it, over layering the original celebration of the Mithras god.

    I feel that once certain ppl are rich & powerful, they can change, destroyed, rewrite history.

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  16. Blessed Geek says:

    I know people in your region of the world do not place much emphasis on the fluent use of English, but the typos are making it difficult for me to read.

    For example,
    “no one has personally *benefits* from the transactions”.
    and,
    “I *remembered* how Senior Pastor Rick Seaward of Calvary Charismatics was knocked down”
    and,
    “I have always *feel* that ..”.

    Sorry, my apologies for whining, but the language style made it very difficult to read. As I am a speed reader, my speed reading depends greatly on the usual patterns of phrases that are found in normal grammar.

  17. kanacon says:

    Chew Eng Han is a very rich man.

    He holds 375,000,000 shares of Transcu, a SGX-listed company. He owns the fund management company, AMAC Capital, that holds another 68,000,000 plus shares of Transcu. (source: Bloomberg)

    AMAC Capital is the fund manager for City Harvest Church.

    Other interesting facts:

    1. Transcu ex-COO/CFO JENALINE LOW CHOH GEK(just left in Nov 2012) was an ex-staff of City Harvest Church wholly-owned charity arm, CHCSA, just before joining Transcu.

    2. The newly appointed Transcu CEO LAWRENCE RIKIO KOMO, husband of well-known persoanlity, Nanz Chong, is also an active member of City Harvest Church. Lawrence Komo is known to be an ex-member of the Investment Committee of City Harvest Church, just before he became the Independent Director of Transcu.

    Is church’s money being invested in such a speculative counter that was suspended for many months for the lack of operating capital, before being relisted just last month?

    What is going on here?

    Picture this scenario:

    A charismatic leader built up his organisation over many years. Through the years, he promoted followers (YES Men) who agree with him, while those who have strong opinions of their own are sidelined and pushed out. Dissent is not tolerated.
    Eventually, this leader commanded such domineering presence in this organisation that the Board of Directors effectively became a rubber stamp that does the bidding of this leader.
    The Board then draws up an Investment Mandate with a Fund Manager who happens to be a close personal friend of the leader and also a member of the Board of Directors.
    This Investment Mandate accords the Investment Manager total discretion in his investment decision, getting a fixed coupon rate return in the form of tranches of Bond issued to the Investment Manager.
    This Investment Manager has all the incentives to engage in risky investment as investment return above the coupon rate is his to keep.
    The bond is always redeemed on time as the new tranche of bond will go to pay the old tranche of bonds that expired.
    Finally, when the investment goes bad and the Investment Manager lose all the money entrusted to him by this organisation, what will happen?
    Has he committed a crime or is he fully covered by the Investment mandate?
    Or have the Investment Management, the Leader, and the Board of Directors committed crime, negligence and Criminal Breach of Trust as they have drawn up an unfair Investment Mandate against the organisation?

  18. Haha says:

    You say not to fuel the speculation and here you are writing it. Seriously lor.

  19. Paul Kirpashankar says:

    Greetings fellow Singaporeans and Christians.
    I am a missionary in India.
    I had been following the CHC story for so long.
    Something somewhere is not right.
    Remember that the devil will find wags to destabilize a Christian group out to challenge its reach.
    Being here in India doing missionary works, I have seen how the devil tries to do this.
    I can survive on only S$ 500 a month and still do God’s work.
    So money is not the issue here.
    Suppressing Growing Christianity definitely is.

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