SINGAPORE - Netizens are flocking to a video of City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee, titled Historic Moment As God Says Sorry To Kong.
User anointedforworship uploaded the three-minute clip on YouTube last week. It showed Kong talking about enduring hardships.
He had asked why it seemed like he had been forsaken.
Kong said of the reply he received: "It's not the voice of a strict, angry judge that only wants me to perform and build a big church and nothing I do is ever good enough for him... No, it's not the voice of a slave-driver that just wants to take and take and wring me dry.
"It was the voice of a tender, loving, broken-hearted father."
And Kong claimed God thanked him for going through this: "I need you to go through this alone, so that you and City Harvest Church can be the man and the ministry I call it to be. I'm so sorry, but you need to go through this by yourself, to bring a change to your generation."
Some church members said the clip has been misconstrued and that it was taken out of context.
A spokesman told The New Paper: "It was a word of hope and comfort that God had given to him, not an apology as suggested."
Kong made the comments at a conference in Sydney, Australia, on April 11 last year. Christian watchdog group C3 Church Watch posted the 44-minute version online in the same month - before Kong was charged in June that year.
He and five others are accused of misappropriating more than $50 million of church funds.
|City Harvest church founder, 4 others charged|
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, AsiaOne, Reuters)
The trial started in May and the second leg is scheduled for the end of next month.
The clip featuring Kong Hee drew more than 95,000 views as of 10pm on Tuesday, and tongue-in-cheek parodies, tweets and Facebook links fired up cyberspace.
More than 2,000 people gave it the thumbs down, 30 times more than those who liked the video.
Are Kong's comments considered sub judice?
Lawyers told The New Paper this was not likely, as the comments were made before he was charged.
Mr Tan Hee Joek from Tan See Swan & Co said: "There's no overt reference to the trial and what he's saying is unlikely to prejudice the court's mind, though it's advisable not to say anything."
Lawyer Gloria James said: "The comments cannot be considered sub judice as they were not made at the time of proceedings. Sub judice happens only when the proceedings are under way."
Kong's lawyer Edwin Tong said he had heard about the clip, but has yet to see it. "I've not spoken to Kong about it," he added.
With the trial coming up in a month's time, church members said they would rather focus on that instead of the clip that is going viral.
"There's no overt reference to the trial and what he's saying is unlikely to prejudice the court's mind, though it's advisable not to say anything."- Lawyer Tan Hee Joek, who said Kong Hee's comments were unlikely to be sub judice
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