Sun Ho: Even Jay Chou was touched by my music

Sun Ho: Even Jay Chou was touched by my music
Singer Sun Ho with her husband, Kong Hee.

To singer-pastor Ho Yeow Sun, the Crossover Project was a success.

It had even reached out to and impacted well-known artists such as Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou and members of Taiwanese Mandopop band FIR, she said.

Ms Ho, 44, also said she was under the impression that her Mandarin albums had sold well.

She was testifying yesterday for the first time on the 136th day of the long-running trial involving six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders.

Her husband, Kong Hee, and five others are accused of misusing millions of dollars in church funds. (See report above.)

Ms Ho, whose stage name is Sun Ho, was called as a witness by former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han.

Chew, who quit the church in 2013 and is representing himself after discharging his lawyer last May, questioned Ms Ho about the Crossover Project - CHC's mission of evangelising the unchurched that was fronted by her secular pop music.

When he asked her about her 80-concert tour from 2003 to 2004 that drew 140,000 supporters, she said that at the end of the concerts, she spoke about how her religion had helped her combat depression and she felt privileged to see half the audience stepping forward to accept Christianity.

Stressing that the Crossover Project was "always about the church" and not about herself, she said it had also impacted two FIR members who were at her concerts "searching for the truth of God".

Other well-known singers such as Rachel Liang Wen Yin and Will Liu Geng Hong, who later shared his experience with close friend Jay Chou, were also directly or indirectly impacted, Ms Ho said.

She added that she met Chou a few years ago and that he recently told her that he had been baptised and had a Christian wedding.

Chew said he agreed that many souls had been saved, but pointed out that he and his co-accused were in the dock for the commercial aspects of the album.

Here are some of the other questions posed to Ms Ho during yesterday's proceedings:

DID YOUR FIVE MANDARIN ALBUMS SELL FOUR MILLION COPIES?

Ms Ho said she had read a newspaper report stating her five Mandarin albums, which were released between 2002 and 2007, sold four million copies.

The album Gain, in particular, had sold 500,000 copies, as announced by the general manager of Warner Music during a press conference in 2006, she said.

But Chew said that if she had sold four million copies of her albums, her artiste management company, Xtron Productions, would have earned $68 million.

"If that was the case, we would not be scrambling for funds (to finance the English album)," he said.

Based on a Xtron cash flow spreadsheet sent out by Serina Wee in 2007, Gain sold only 60,000 copies, Chew said.

Ms Ho said she did not know how the figures had been tabulated.

Kong's lawyer, Senior Counsel Edwin Tong, later produced a newspaper report quoting the Warner Music general manager as announcing the 500,000 sales figure for Gain.

DID YOU KNOW HOW YOUR MUSIC CAREER WAS PROGRESSING?

Ms Ho said she was busy travelling from one city to another and left it to the recording company and her manager to keep track of the sale of her albums.

She added that she was involved in only the creative aspects of her albums, and not the budgeting.

Ms Ho also said she did not know how much royalties she had earned because Kong had handled her personal expenses.

She had also waived some, if not all, of the royalties for her albums, she said.

Later, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng told Ms Ho that she was in no position to give evidence on her music career's financial success because she had not kept track of it.

Ms Ho disagreed and said she was given an impression by her recording company, managers and pastors that her albums were doing well.

Mr Tan countered: "That's just an impression... but you don't know how this is translated into profit."

Ms Ho replied: "Yes."

WHY DIDN'T YOU GO BACK TO THE UNITED STATES TO COMPLETE THE ALBUM?

Ms Ho said that by June 2010, she and her producers were close to completing her English album.

But after the Commercial Affairs Department raid in May 2010, she decided to remain in Singapore to be with her husband, son and church.

Her English album has yet to be released.

Chew, who had tried to persuade Ms Ho to return to the US, said that if the English album were to be released, its sales would exonerate Kong.

Ms Ho said: "In my mind, it's never a closed deal. We worked really hard. It is my greatest desire to finish it... I wanted to wait for everything to settle down."

The trial continues today.

No returns on $350,000 Xtron investment, says former CHC member

City Harvest Church (CHC) had plans to build primary schools in China and name them after singer-pastor Ho Yeow Sun, said former CHC member Sun Yuen Peng.

Ms Sun, who quit the church in 2012 after 10 years, was the second witness called by former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han yesterday.

She told the court that she had suggested to CHC deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng that Kong Hee should preach at a university in China.

But she was told that method was too direct. Instead, building schools and naming them "Ho Yeow Sun Primary School" would be a better way.

Ms Sun said she had donated about $1 million to CHC over the 10 years.

She had also invested $350,000 in Xtron as advised by Chew, who said there would be an interest of 4 per cent.

When Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng asked her what had happened to her money, she said she never got a single cent back.

ABOUT THE CASE

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing church funds through sham bonds.

First, $24 million was allegedly misused to fund the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, whose stage name is Sun Ho, and another $26.6 million allegedly used to cover up the first amount.

The accused are said to have done this through music production firm Xtron Productions and glass manufacturer Firna. Both companies were run by long-time supporters of the church.

Kong, former board member John Lam, finance manager Sharon Tan, ex-fund manager Chew Eng Han, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and former finance manager Serina Wee face charges of criminal breach of trust and/or falsifying accounts.

The prosecution had sought to show how Xtron and Firna directors simply did the accused's bidding.

The defence has argued that the transactions were legitimate, with the accused acting in good faith on the advice of lawyers and auditors.

rloh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 20, 2015.
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