Chew Eng Han (Photo- City News)

Former church leader Chew Eng Han files criminal motion to apex court on questions of law

Former church leader, Chew Eng Han has earlier filed a criminal motion on 5 May (Friday) for the reservation of questions of law to the Court of Appeal in regards to the case of the City Harvest Church.

Together with the church founder Kong Hee, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, former CHC finance committee member John Lam and former CHC finance manager Serina Wee, Chew Eng Han was convicted in 2015 for misappropriating church funds.

Chew, who was supposed to start his jail term on 21 April together with the four others CHC leaders, had earlier been granted a stay of his sentence by the court so as to prepare the documents for the criminal motion.

According to documents that have been submitted to the court, Chew is putting forth ten questions of law in reference to his case; Whether the word misappropriate was correctly interpreted and in line with the ordinary meaning conveyed in the statute,  as required by s9A of the interpretation act, and whether the courts have acted beyond their constitutional power by importing a meaning which departs from the meaning and purpose intended by the statute.

In essence, section 9A states that the public should be able to rely on the “ordinary meaning” which is conveyed by the text of the provision to understand the context of the written law and the purpose or object underlying the written law.

He also raised the question as to whether there can be a breach of trust of the church’s trust and wrongful loss to the church when the church has ratified the transactions.

Chew commented to local media that he is focusing on overturning the charges against him and not on the sentence. He is said to have prepared all submitted documents himself with only some help from lawyer friends on the legal procedure in filing the criminal motion.

Chew was earlier sentenced to six years in jail, but the High Court on 7 April reduced the sentence after an appeal to three-year-and-four-month sentence, together with the other church leaders, who also had reduced sentences.

The court will decide between this coming 3 to 11 July to decide whether would his motion be heard in court. Only if his request goes through, will the criminal reference be heard by the Court of Appeal.

It is estimated to take about six months for the Court of Appeal to come to a decision.

The ten questions of law that Chew has submitted to the Court of Appeal pursuant to Section 397 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

  1. The question as to what is the meaning of “misappropriate” and the scope of the offence of misappropriation.
  2. The question as to whether the court has correctly interpreted the meaning of “wrongful loss” and consequently whether its manner of determining the element of dishonesty produces an unsafe conviction.
  3. The question whether the High Court has in substance made the crime of misappropriation and criminal breach of trust an offence of strict liability.
  4. The question as to the effect of consent and ratification on an offence against property.
  5. Question as to whether there is a conflict of judicial authority on two rules of law.
  6. The question as to whether dishonesty can be present if the accused believed in the legality of his actions.
  7. Question as to whether intent to defraud was proven.
  8. The question as to the rules for determining the falsity of accounting entries and the creation of a false impression.
  9. Question of law as to whether a conspiracy allegedly done in pursuance of and to cover a previous conspiracy can continue to be upheld if the initial conspiracy no longer stands.
  10. Questions of law as to whether the payment of tax (GST) in pursuance of an advanced rental arrangement (ARLA) can constitute misappropriation and wrongful loss.