“Words alone, is not enough”

Posted: June 17, 2010 in Current Affairs

“Words alone, is not enough. A picture paints a thousand words, BUT a video, (paints) a trillion words”

I agree with the above quote, as recently quoted by Pastor Kong Hee of the City Harvest Church (CHC). Now let’s watch a video that recently gained high viewership as a result of the scandal revolving around the church and Pastor Kong Hee. For those who are unaware, CHC is currently embroiled in a fund probe, where many of its members (including Pastor Kong Hee) are under investigation for the alleged misuse of church funds. This is a highly sensationalized story that adds to the number of exposed incidents which involve charity organizations misappropriating public funds, mainly due to the lack of legislation.

Pastor Kong Hee is an extremely eloquent and charismatic person who is able to garner support from his mass. The church is raising funds to relocate its premises; out of 26 plots of surveyed sites, 19 were unsuitable, and 6 other bids were unsuccessful. The Ministry of City Harvest Church eventually secured the site at Suntec Singapore International Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The target amount to be raised is S$17,300,000 (which approximately translates to 50 units of four-room apartments at the much talked-about The Pinnacle@Duxton). The above-mentioned amount is but 5 out of a total of 13 ‘Arise & Build’ campaigns set to fund the S$310 million acquisition of a substantial stake in a consortium, which ultimate results in CHC being a co-owner of Suntec Singapore International Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Now, from a low context, the Suntec Singapore International Exhibition and Convention Centre is an ideal location as it is centrally located with the ease of transport, and is big enough to accommodate CHC’s traffic. It may be costly, but the church was blessed as “God has done it for us, we have gotten our land”, as quoted by Pastor Kong Hee.

From a high context, this ambitious move seems to be an extravagance that has never been witnessed in Singapore before, and has raised the eyebrows of many. That S$310 million dollar will be funded through the Church’s reserves (reported at $103 million in a 2009 audit) and donations through fund-raising; most of its reserves come from its followers’ tithe. With the ongoing investigations on the alleged misuse of church funds, the word ‘honesty’ seem to have taken a step back in the eyes of the public.

I have to re-emphasize that I agree with Pastor Kong Hee: “Words alone, is not enough.” This video painted a trillion words. What words do you read?



Channel News Asia

Yahoo! News

  1. Ed says:

    I think what khong hee says is true…how else he got his flock to stand by him during his hour of need. Anyway, blind faith is dangerous…not my cup of tea.

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      While no one knows for sure whether he is being complete truthful, there is one indisputable fact, which is his strong charisma. His charisma certainly helps to rally the support of his followers in both times of peace and need.

  2. xianwei says:

    There have been comparisons between Kong Hee and Benny Hinn (a faith healer of sorts in America). The extravagance in their lifestyles is one, and their followers’ undying loyalty comes to mind.

    Well, time will tell how close these 2 are exactly. =)

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      I did some reading up on Benny Hinn, and am appalled at his claims of being able to spiritually heal his followers. According to the CBC television show “Do You Believe in Miracles”, they managed to gather evidence on the people that he had ‘healed’ during his mass were actually still having their disabilities.

      There are similarities between Kong Hee and Benny Hinn as you brought up, and I agree that time will reveal if they are also alike (in negative doings).

  3. Mabel says:

    CHC seems more like a conglomerate, rather than a place of worship. Does it really matter where the house of worship is and how much it costs? Thought God was supposed to be with us wherever we are? CHC’s tactics/policies of raising funds do indeed raise many eyebrows, as well as questions!

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      While well-equipped accommodations will aid in the facilitation of church service, I agree with you that god lives in the heart; hence, the location is secondary.

      Though the site is extremely accessible, it seems like an extravagance considering the sum of money that has to be paid for this convenience.

  4. chris says:

    Actually, I’m pretty fine with what the man does. Based simply on his not drawing any salary from CHC, it kind of goes to show how much he believes in what he’s doing? Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty much against churches who raise funds and use it for it’s own benefits rather than give back to the poor, but compared to say, Joseph Prince from NCC. Prince was (is) reportedly being paid $50k/month by his church, an organisation that it supposed to be non-profit. It stinks much worse than the Ren Ci debacle.

    If Kong Hee honestly isn’t drawing a salary from CHC, I’d respect him for devoting his life to his religion. Of course, aspersions could be cast on his and his wife’s personal lives (living conditions etc). Also, being such prominent figures of his church, he could do more to assist the more financially needy members of his congregation. After all, is spending S$28k/month on a house in America really necessary for his wife when his religion (which he ardently advocates) teaches him to serve God and not material needs?

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      While I think that we should respect his privacy, TNP’s discovery on their extravagant lifestyle certainly does not depict them in a good light. Compared to Joseph Prince, Kong Hee does seem less guilty of earning off a non-profit organization.

      However, I think that $28,000 for a monthly rent is a large sum of money to be spend on housing. Multiply that by 12, the $300k is sufficient to buy a 4 room flat every year. If that money is spent on helping the needy, much can be accomplished, but then again, it is their money to spend. This brings me a personal debate, are we at liberty to comment on how they decide to splurge their own money?

      • chris says:

        I think it is, if only because he is the single highest profile leader of one of the highest profile religious organisations there is in Singapore. Look at the imams in the Middle East. They are role models to their followers, Likewise, Kong Hee is a leader in his community and as such should act his part. Extravagant spending will only cause non-members of his congregation to wonder at his lifestyle. Giving to the poor is a tenet of any religion and yet here is this man, for many atheists in Singapore, a symbol of Christianity, living the good life. Bear in mind that there *are* poor people in Singapore, regardless of what the government would have us believe. If he wants to live this lifestyle and be free of public opinion, all he has to do is give up his leadership role in his church. I’m sure most people wouldn’t care if he stayed in a 5 star hotel every night if he did so.

        • Rawbeanladen says:

          Well said. I share your sentiments. While he doesn’t have to subject himself to poverty, I think that his current lifestyle seems to be extravagant.

          Though it may not be entirely his doing, from a high context it just seems inappropriate given his high profile position in his religious organization. Even if his spouse stands up and disclaims his role over the decisions in lodging and lifestyle, it will do little to change the impressions of the people who are not his followers. People will believe in what the media portrays – a life of extravagance.

  5. Angel says:

    I would think that the $310m that he is going to raise, could be put to a better use. That sum of money can certainly help numerous unemployed individuals in their daily needs. Rather than raising funds to facilitate and accommodate more followers by having a more centralized meeting area, it would be more pragmatic to raise funds for the those in need instead.

    Concentrating only on Singapore, there are many cases of single parent families and low-income families struggling to get by with their meager incomes. I reckon it would be more meaningful to help these group of people first.

  6. chris says:

    I think a very important thing that was left out is Kong Hee’s claim that he is able to live this lifestyle through his businesses. He says he has always had an interest in business, and his business *must* be doing pretty well, with all of them being situated along Orchard Road. However, whether or not the businesses are generating *that* much income is really up for debate,

  7. keeteng says:

    I feel that the government should start taxing such religious groups , that would solve the root of the problem !! Such organizations should be kept under close scrutiny by the government or any state-sanctioned body, in order to avoid the chance for such an uproar to happen again .

    • Rawbeanladen says:

      Ironically such organizations tend to forget about their beginnings and basic goals after growing affluent. While it is not wrong to embrace a higher standard of living and better lifestyle, I think that a lot of care must be practiced in order not to stray from their ‘path’ and cause.

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