TOC understands that this letter has been sent by Christopher Pang, an Executive Member of City Harvest Church, to the Ministry of Community Youth and Sports (MCYS), copied to members of the media.
Dear Mr Chan Chun Sing,
I read with disappointment the defamatory article posted in MCYS’ Press Room entitled “Inquiry found misconduct and mismanagement in the City Harvest Church”.
I am an Executive Member of City Harvest Church, and yes, five people from my church were taken in yesterday, 26 June 2012, for investigation and it was announced they would be charged. Among them are the senior pastor of my church Pastor Kong Hee, and our deputy senior pastor, Pastor Tan Ye Peng.
The “report” that the Commissioner of Charities put up is offensive in the following ways:
- The five individuals had not been yet charged on 26 June 2012. But the report was already posted online, and circulated to the public. Does the Commissioner of Charities feel that it is the judge of these five individuals, and not our judiciary? By posting this report, it is already declaring these five individuals “guilty” of wrongdoing even before the Singapore legal system has begun speaking to these five individuals. Frankly, this is defamatory, and necessitates an apology from the CoC.
- There are some points in the report that make accusations that are not supported by evidence. For example,
a) Section B point 5: “donations and tithes to the Charity were transferred to a private fund known as the Multi-Purpose Account.” This is a fabrication. The MPA was purely a private fund and the donors knew they were contributing to the Crossover Project and to supporting Pastor Kong and Sun. In fact the MPA was set up by donors who specifically wanted to contribute to the Crossover Project as we the members of the Church support this as part of our missions work. Monies from CHC’s accounts were not transferred, as accused by CoC, to this MPA. It was a private fund. Definition of “private”: “Belonging to or for the use of one particular person or group of people only.” So, there was no need for the members outside this group to know about the MPA.
b) In paragraph 2 of the press statement, the CoC insinuates that $23M was used to finance Ho Yeow Sun’s secular music career and gives the impression that money was depleted from the Building Fund. It fails to mention that the audited accounts show that these funds were actually used to purchase bonds with an interest yield of 7% and were duly redeemed with interest upon their expiry date one and a half years’ ago. So no monies have actually been lost to our Church’s Building Fund, in fact the 7% yield of these matured bonds have made this a much better investment than putting the money into fixed deposits with pathetic interest rates.
3. Inflammatory and emotive language is used throughout this report, to the effect of inciting indignation in the reader. Examples:
a. Section B, Point 4: “the Charity’s funds were used to finance the Project under the guise of donations to its affiliated church”.
b. Section B, Point 5: “There was even an attempt to conceal the existence of this Account”
While I understand the need to CoC to conduct an inquiry into this matter, I strongly disagree with this report being posted online and re-posted on sites like ST.com when the five have not even been formally charged in court! I take offence at the—frankly amateur—way it has been written and the incendiary language it uses.
I have been a member of City Harvest Church for 18 years. Our pastors have always been open and honest with us, while trying to accomplish the vision God has given our church in the best way they know how. Whilst they may not be perfect, integrity has always been their hallmark.
In Point 6 of the report, the CoC says it may take action against these individuals “in order to protect the charitable property of the Charity.” We the members of the Church have given voluntarily to the Church and the Crossover Project, monies have never been solicited from the public. We are a society and do not owe members of the public any account of our how our funds are used, yet we post our audited accounts online on our website for transparency and accountability.
I can assure you the “charitable property” that I have donated to the Charity does not need protecting by CoC. Pastor Kong Hee, Pastor Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han, John Lam and Sharon Tan have my—and I am sure my fellow churchmates’—trust and support. We know them, trust their integrity and we have seen the fruit of their labour. Nothing that they do is for personal gain, glory or self-furtherance. I am therefore not supportive of the CoC’s suspension of the 8 persons from their offices.
I write to respectfully ask that the CoC apologises to City Harvest Church and its members for this inexcusable report and its poor timing.