Court rules in pastor's favour

Court rules in pastor's favour

SINGAPORE - A High Court judge ruled in favour of Mr Lawrence Khong in a closed hearing of a suit he filed against the Singapore Polo Club (SPC).

The SPC had earlier suspended his membership rights and privileges for two months with effect from Aug 7.

Mr Khong had sought for it to be set aside, which the Court granted yesterday.

It also ordered an assessment of damages that the SPC will have to pay Mr Khong.

Mr Khong, the senior pastor of the 10,000-strong Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC), is a former national polo player.

An SPC member since 1992, he was elected as the club's honorary secretary in March.

He owns four ponies stabled at the SPC, and had earlier successfully applied for an interim injunction to set aside the suspension pending yesterday's hearing.

This was granted at the end of September and he was able to temporarily resume his use of the club facilities and his role of honorary secretary.

Mr Khong is represented by his lawyers, Mr Daniel Goh and Mr Adrian Wee of Characterist LLC.

Mr Khong's written submission provided a background of the case.

He had seconded a motion of no confidence which was passed against the 2012 Committee during at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 26 this year.

But two days after the AGM, the vote was amended so the motion was not carried, which Mr Khong alleged was improper. On April 28, he sent a statement about his concerns over the manner in which the results of the vote had been amended to the Registrar of Societies, and to each SPC member using the club's "e-mail blast" system.

He also posted the statement on SPC's official notice board.

In its written submission to the Court, SPC said that it had sent Mr Khong a notice which stated that there is "sufficient evidence" that he had "acted in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the club".

The notice also informed Mr Khong of a disciplinary hearing on Aug 3 at which he could answer the charges made against him. These were on the use of the club's e-mail database without proper authority, abusing his authority as honorary secretary and potentially bringing the club into disrepute by writing to the Registrar of Societies.

Mr Khong later received a suspension notice dated Aug 6.

It stated that he would be allowed to keep his horses stabled at the club, but not the right of access to the club or the right to the services of a personal professional polo player to train his horses.

He had previously served on the club's committee for five years in the 1990s as vicepresident, honorary secretary, polo captain and a riding convenor.

He said he was heartened that the Court had set aside the suspension and that he had believed from the start that the club's disciplinary proceedings against him were conducted unfairly.

"I have sought at all times to act in the Club's best interests," he told The New Paper.

Mr Khong is also prepared to waive his claim for damages on condition that SPC and its committee agree to let the matter rest.

When contacted, Mr KP Lee, vice president of the SPC's committee, said: "All I can say at the moment is the committee will carefully consider the decision made by the court today and discuss its implications with the club's lawyers before deciding on whether to appeal."

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