(Clockwise from top left): Tan Ye Peng, Kong Hee, John Lam, Chew Eng Han, Sharon Tan and Serina Wee. (Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)
SINGAPORE: The Court of Appeal has on Thursday (Feb 1) found in favour of City Harvest Church’s Kong Hee and five others, rejecting the prosecution’s bid to reinstate the original convictions and sentences of the six church leaders.
This means Kong, his former deputy Tan Ye Peng and senior members Chew Eng Han, John Lam, Serina Wee and Sharon Tan will continue to serve reduced jail terms of seven months to three and a half years, slashed from between 21 months and eight years.
Former finance manager Sharon Tan, 41, has completed her seven-month sentence and is now a free woman. Former fund manager Chew, 57, will begin serving his sentence of three years and four months on Feb 22.
“A HARD CASE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO MAKE BAD LAW”: APEX COURT
On Thursday, the Court of Appeal moved to uphold the High Court’s decision to convict the City Harvest six of less serious criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges.
Though Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang acknowledged the “lacuna,” or gap, in the law brought to light in this case, he said the five-judge Court of Appeal would not “paper over” it.
“A hard case should not be allowed to make bad law,” Judge Phang said. “The shaping of a remedy should be left to Parliament,” he added, noting that “the separation of powers … is the bedrock of our Constitution”.
In a procedure known as a Criminal Reference, the prosecution had argued at a hearing last year that the original convictions of the City Harvest six ought to have been upheld.
The six were found guilty in 2015 of taking S$50 million from the church’s coffers to secretly bankroll the music career of Kong’s wife, singer Sun Ho.