SINGAPORE — City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee, who will start his jail sentence on Friday (April 21), issued an apology on Wednesday to his church and to the public for “unwise decisions” he had made in the past, and said he was now “at peace” with his prison time.
In a statement issued to the media on Wednesday night, Kong said he was “filled with grief and regret” over his mistakes and asked those he had hurt for forgiveness.
“To all I have disappointed, stumbled and hurt in my church, in the Body of Christ at large, and in the public, I am truly sorry,” he said.
“I have, in these past weeks since the release of the judgment, reflected deeply. I have come to terms with what is ahead and am at peace.”
Kong, together with five other City Harvest church leaders were convicted in 2015 for misappropriating S$50 million of church funds.
Initially, Kong was given a jail sentence of eight years, but that was reduced to 3 years and six months in a High Court verdict on April 7.
In his statement, Kong said he was “thankful” that the High Court had found there was no sinister or malicious plan in relation to the misappropriated funds.
“I had acted in the church’s best interest, something which the Court also accepted, although I accept responsibility for the manner in which I had sought to bring the Crossover Project to fruition in using the building fund,” he said.
Kong added that the last seven years – since the case was brought to light - had been immensely challenging for him and his family.
“I am extremely saddened by the prospect of having to leave my family and church, and yearn to see them again after serving my sentence.
“Over the last few weeks, I have tried to spend as much time as possible with my family, whom I will miss very dearly. I was also grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate this Easter with my church and all its members,” he said.
Four other CHC leaders similarly convicted of misappropriating millions in church funds are set to surrender to the authorities on Friday and start serving their respective jail terms.
The High Court on Wednesday granted former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han's application to defer his jail sentence.
Chew, who was sentenced to three years and four months’ jail, was granted an additional deferment until the Court of Appeal has ruled on the Criminal Reference case, brought by the prosecution, to clarify the law under which the six CHC leaders were convicted.
A Criminal Reference hearing is limited to criminal cases in which a question of law of public interest arises in a High Court decision on an appeal.
Chew, 56, told the High Court on Wednesday that he needed “time and resources” to prepare for the filing of a Criminal Reference. He was supposed to start his sentence on Friday following a two-week deferment.