'The sky's the limit' for Sun Ho

'The sky's the limit' for Sun Ho
AMBITIOUS: Ms Ho Yeow Sun at the subordinate courts on Monday.

SINGAPORE - The sky's the limit when it comes to the Crossover Project. And only the best will do when it comes to pushing singer Ho Yeow Sun, the face of the project, to success in the US.

Started in 2002, the Crossover Project was City Harvest Church's (CHC) bid to position Ms Ho as a successful pop singer, so she could preach to those who do not usually associate themselves with the church and Christianity. But it doesn't stop there.

The US was just a stepping stone to the ultimate goal: China.

In court on Wednesday, it emerged that church founder Kong Hee had big plans for his wife's US debut.

DPP Tan Kiat Pheng brought up a February 2005 e-mail, in which Kong had instructed Ms Ho's US-based music producer and manager Justin Herz to "plan as if 'the sky is the limit'". They would then work out how to get funds for the project.

Discussing whether to do a "top class album and marketing/promotion" at $1.5 million or a $400,000 budget, Kong wrote: "If we have a solid breakthrough plan, and product, I'm sure all the rest will work out by itself. But let's shoot for top-of-the-line type of planning in everything that we do for Sun."

Mr Herz had replied that they will continue to shoot for the stars and "make sure that Sun works only with the best in the business".

DPP Tan had quizzed Indonesian tycoon Wahju Hanafi, 53, about this e-mail that he was not included in - after the latter agreed with the defence on Monday that the Crossover Project was not a bottomless pit.

Kong and five others are accused of misusing more than $50 million of church money to finance Ms Ho's singing career and cover up the amount.

Kong's lawyer Edwin Tong, who had sought to show that the church founder had been careful with the budget for Ms Ho, objected - saying the e-mail exchange should not be introduced in court because Mr Wahju was not among the addressees.

The judge allowed the move.

Still, grand plans for the project were evident in other e-mails. There was talk of roping in entertainment A-listers like R&B legend Missy Elliott to endorse Ms Ho's album and a tour with Rihanna.

Church leaders had also circulated projections of Ms Ho's album sales in 2007 over e-mail.

The estimates ranged from 200,000 copies to three million units in the space of two months - a projection that Mr Wahju said he remembered discussing with fellow Xtron Productions director Choong Kar Weng. Xtron used to manage Ms Ho, and Mr Wahju was an Xtron director from 2003 till 2008.

The 200,000 projection was made in the early days before famed music producer Wyclef Jean came on board, Mr Wahju said.

"If they were (to) propose to me that the sales is only 200,000, I wouldn't be putting $12, $13 million to sell 200,000 albums."

But he admitted Mr Herz had not told him about the projections personally and the three million sales figure was "what was in my mind".

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