Sun Ho's music success 'overhyped'
CITY Harvest pastor-singer Ho Yeow Sun's music success had been grossly exaggerated, and her husband Kong Hee knew this, said former church treasurer Chew Eng Han yesterday.
Her supposed success in Asia was a result of church members spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy her CDs, as well as lies about her achievements and awards, said Chew.
He claimed that even though Kong knew the facts about his wife's career, he hid them from others, sank church funds into a planned debut American album for his wife and then found ways to misuse more church money, in case the album was a failure.
Although the two men had known each other for decades, Chew said that he had been deceived by his former spiritual mentor, and that Kong was, in fact, a liar who came up with "many sham reasons to justify what he does".
Chew told Kong, who was taking the stand for the second week: "One of the reasons I left your church was that... you deceived the people closest to you."
Chew, Kong and four others face various charges for their part in allegedly misusing some $50 million of church funds to boost Ms Ho's pop music career and then covering up the deed.
The defence has said her secular career and the American album were part of a church-approved Crossover Project to attract non-Christians using her music and then spread the Gospel among them.
Representing himself, Chew said that, contrary to the church's website and Ms Ho's own blog, she had not sung the theme song for the 2007 Special Olympics in Shanghai.
Nor, he said, was she honoured by China for her charity work by being featured on a special stamp series.
He produced copies of Ms Ho's stamps and others in the China series to show the difference, saying that Ms Ho's stamps "are nothing more than personalised stamps that anybody can go to the post office to pay for".
He said: "Many church members that trusted the leadership took what was told to us at face value. I was one of them."
Chew, who was City Harvest's investment manager, put to Kong: "You secretly knew Sun's success was not real... You consciously kept all relevant information from me to use me to help you arrange the necessary financing (for her United States album)."
Kong denied most of the claims. He said he believed that Ms Ho's stamp honour was genuine because there had been a ceremony attended by officials.
He added that while he had not attended the 2007 Special Olympics, he knew Ms Ho had recorded a song, "and there could be more than one theme song".
"I know that Sun recorded a song that was used by the Special Olympics," he said.
As for the claim that members had bought Ms Ho's CDs to boost sales, Kong said some of the purchases were "to stimulate momentum" and were "an industry norm".