Singapore

Shanmugam on City Harvest Church case: 'The matter is not over yet'

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is considering whether it is possible to take further steps on the City Harvest Church case and will decide by early next week, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Saturday (Apr 8).

All six church leaders convicted of criminal breach of trust had their sentences reduced by a three-judge panel under the appeal verdict released a day earlier.

Mr Shanmugam, who was at a racial and religious harmony event in Toa Payoh on Saturday, said: "The media is reporting that the matter is over, that this is final. Not quite. The matter is not over yet." 

The original sentences, handed down in November 2015 ranged from 21 months to eight years. It was the largest case of misuse of charitable funds in Singapore history.

The AGC appealed as it believed the original sentence was too low, a view which the Government agreed with, said Mr Shanmugam. The six church leaders had appealed against their conviction.

Referring to the judges' reasoning for lowering the sentences, Mr Shanmugam said: "From the Government's point of view, this reasoning, this legal reasoning has serious implications in other cases, including corruption cases and our zero-tolerance approach for the future.

"We will have to consider as a matter of policy what other steps to take because we cannot relax our stand on that," he said. 

The minister added that he had  "asked AGC to advise whether we need to do anything".

However, Mr Shanmugam did caution that people should be careful about how they express their opinion on the verdict.

“I can understand that people have different views on the High Court judgment,” Mr Shanmugam told reporters.

But he added that while people have a right to have their views on the judgment, they should be careful about abusing judges personally or “casting improper ulterior motives” on the judgments.

“The reasoning is there, they set it out, we agree, disagree, and from a Government point of view if we disagree then we always consider what we do.

"If necessary we legislate through Parliament,” he said.

-THE STRAITS TIMES

ChurchcourtCity Harvest Church