SINGAPORE - City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee became emotional on the stand yesterday as he told the court how investigations into financial irregularities at the church had affected his young son.
The pastor and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing $50 million in church funds to boost the music career of his wife Ho Yeow Sun and falsifying church accounts to cover up the misuse.
"The whole investigation was shocking and traumatic for my little boy," he said of his son Dayan, who was 5½ years old when the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) started probing the church's financial affairs in 2010.
Choking up several times, he said the boy began to have panic attacks and would be "hyperventilating on most days", so much so that he and his wife had to take him to see a psychiatrist.
Kong, 50, recounted this after being asked by his lawyer, Mr Edwin Tong, why Ms Ho had not returned to the United States to complete her album once investigations started. This was in response to criticism raised earlier in the trial by Kong's co-accused and former CHC fund manager, Chew Eng Han, that Kong did not even launch the album to recover the church's money.
Yesterday, Kong said their son and the church needed her to be around. He said his son's classmates at a "very good Christian school" would innocently ask him: "Is your Dad in jail already?"
Dayan also asked him: "Dad, why are all the teachers and adults at school constantly talking about you?"
As for himself, Kong told the court his "life was never the same" after he was first questioned by the CAD for 15 hours on May 31, 2010.