From ‘City Harvest’s Kong Hee and 4 others questioned by police’ and ‘City Harvest’s Crossover Project lies at heart of CoC inquiry’, 26 June 2012, ST
City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and four others, including former board members, were arrested on Tuesday morning following a probe into financial irregularities of the church by both the police and the Commissioner of Charities (CoC). Among other things, the CoC found financial irregularities of at least $23 million from the church funds. Its spokesman said the funds were used with the purported intention to finance the wife of pastor Kong, Ms Ho Yeow Sun’s secular music career to connect with people.
…At the centre of the inquiry by the Commisioner of Charities (CoC) is the City Harvest Church’s Crossover Project and the misrepresentation on the use of the charity’s fund. The project was set up in 2002 purportedly to use Sun Ho’s secular music to connect with people and reach out to non-Christians. By 2003, it had drawn flak. According to the CoC, an individual alleged in the media that the charity was funding Sun Ho’s music career.
This attracted public attention. Although the person eventually issued a public apology and retracted his allegations, the church faced media scrutiny. In response, it issued press statements and made several representations to its members to state that they had not funded Sun Ho’s music career. However, unknown to the executive members of the board, the church’s funds were used to run the project, said the CoC.
In Jan 2003, a CHC member named Roland Poon told the ST that he was ‘encouraged’ to purchase five copies each of Sun Ho’s two albums at the time, and accused church leadership of using funds to push Ho to superstardom. He later spent tens of thousands publicly apologising in various media out of sudden, dramatic repentance. I wonder how the same man would feel now if the very people he pointed fingers at almost a decade ago were found to be guilty of misusing donations to manufacture a pop star, one who sells sex more than gospel to the masses. What if he was RIGHT all along? It would be the most wasteful apology ever.
There’s nothing wrong with Ho’s ‘secular’ music (other than being utterly tuneless and forgettable) and a sex-kitten image even if she’s a pastor’s wife, though critics were quick to notice Sun Ho’s extravagances once they got bored of her peek-a-boos. In 2003, she was at the Hollywood Film Festival promoting her debut single ‘Where Did Love Go’ in a RED ARMANI SATIN GOWN. This was a track produced by the legendary David Foster, the man behind the success of classic syrupy balladeers like Celine Dion, Elton John and the reason why karaoke is still alive today. Miraculously, this formula of a mega-producer combined with a virtual nobody from Singapore propelled ‘Where Did Love Go’ to the top of the Billboard Dance charts. It’s likely that the fee paid to Foster alone cost more than the profits of Sun’s first album in Singapore. Minus the CHC fanbase of course.
Five Mandarin platinum albums aside, she’s also the only Singaporean artiste to ever appear at the Grammys twice. In 2007, the good Christian diva image was shed, and a collaboration with Wyclef Jean of the FUGEES resulted in CHINA WINE, with Ho channeling a premenopausal Nicki Minaj going by the street name of ‘GEISHA’. By taking such gimmicky liberties with all things Asian, China Wine is to Christianity as Annabelle Chong is to Singaporean film. Most Singaporeans would have realised by now that Ho wasn’t going to be the Asian Charlotte Church. If she had worn crucifixes over lingerie in her performances there wouldn’t be the slightest hint of irony at all. China Wine even sounds like a euphemism for some date rape drug, judging from the raunchy chorus:
China wine, china wine, china wine, china wine, china wine, china wine
Mix da china wine with di dutty wine
I’ve no idea what ‘di dutty wine’ means, though it sounds like Jamaican slang for semen. More telling is the following line:
Look upon da girl a shes a dirty wina
Ed Hardy, dats her designa
2009 saw the release of ‘Fancy Free’, which had Ho in MILF meets Lady Gaga Ninja garb while sounding like Gwen Stefani. The music video was directed by Joseph Kahn, the creative hand behind Britney Spears’ Toxic video. A couple of saucy videos, expensive collaborators, endorsements from congregation and you’ve earned yourself a Hollywood home. In 2010, it was reported that Ho rents her place in Hollywood Hills at $28,000 a month, supposedly sharing the same ground that Brad and Angelina walk on. If she could convert either one of them, all would be forgiven. China Wine included.
With CD sales plummeting worldwide and Ho not producing a hit single since her turn to the ‘vamp’ side, it’s not possible for someone to lap up a lavish Hollywood lifestyle without a ‘little help’ from your flock. Whether by the Grace of God or shrewd ‘investments’, Ho has put Singapore ‘on the map’, even if she’s been packaged and sold like a comfort woman with dreadlocks while at it. It doesn’t, however, excuse the CHC bigwigs of turning the prayers and generosity of many into one bad Ed-Hardy endorsed dancehall-reggae-rap -astrophe after another. Interestingly, in a 2003 Today article, it was reported that Ho was named one of the Outstanding Young Persons by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. One of the past winners was a certain CEO of another charity who later got himself into trouble as well using funds for dialysis patients to affix gold taps in his toilet.
His name? T T DURAI.
Postscript: As befitting of a charismatic leader, CHC members continue to support the shamed Kong Hee, clamouring for him outside court, tweeting words of faith and encouragement and a certain Christopher Pang being so bold as to threaten the COC with defamation in a written letter to MCYS Minister Chan Chun Sing. Meanwhile the cash till rolls up to $50 million, with luxury property in Sentosa added to the windfall, and Kong Hee is desperately tweeting verses from the Bible like the one below, forgetting to include @JesusChrist in his plaintive pleas. Not sure if Chan Chun Sing belongs to any denomination himself, though he used to study at Economics at CHRIST’S COLLEGE, Cambridge.