City Harvest Church yesterday rubbished any suggestion that it has been trying to keep the public from viewing trial proceedings by taking up most of the court passes.
Instead, around 16 students from its School of Theology (SOT) have been queueing up early in the morning for a pass each, as a favour to church members.
Responding to a query from The Straits Times, a church spokesman said: "We have a number of members who are parents who want to listen to proceedings... (However), they have to get their kids ready and send them off to school, for instance, and cannot be physically available to collect the tickets issued.
"As such, about 16 SOT students have kindly volunteered, for the duration of August and September, to help these parents collect the tickets at 5am...
"As these SOT students stay in the same dormitory, they have made arrangements to come together by a hired bus, as public transport is not available at that hour and taxis are too costly.
"The rest of the tickets are available to others in the queue."
Since church founder Kong Hee took the stand last Monday, the courtroom has been relatively empty, compared with the full houses when the trial started in May last year. This was despite the 50 passes reserved for the public being taken up each morning.
But yesterday, the courtroom was close to completely full after the public realised that they could enter without a pass after 10am, if free seats were available.
This article was first published on August 23, 2014.
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