Government believes City Harvest sentences are too low: Law Minister Shanmugam

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Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam revealed in Parliament today that the Government believes the City Harvest Church (CHC) sentences are too low. He added during a ministerial statement on the matter that the government will move to ensure legislation allows for higher penalties for senior officers who commit criminal breaches of trust (CBT).

The Minister’s statement comes after the Court of Appeal dismissed a bid by prosecutors to reinstate the original sentences City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and his group of church leaders, which would have required the group to serve longer jail terms, last week.

Kong Hee and group were originally sentenced to longer jail terms after they were found guilty of misappropriating about S$50 million of church funds, in October 2015. A three-judge panel at the High Court halved the group’s jail terms after it heard a five-day appeal in court last year.

In reading the decision at the apex Court last week, Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang said that Parliament should shape a remedy if there is any gap in the law and added: “A hard case should not be allowed to make bad law.”

The Attorney-General’s Chambers responded thereafter that it will work with the relevant ministries on “the appropriate revisions to the Penal Code”.

Shanmugam called the issue a “serious matter” last week and asserted today:

“The Government’s policy is clear: If you are a senior officer, director in the organisation, you are in a position of greater trust. You have considerable authority to make decisions in relation to the organisation’s assets. If you abuse that trust, you should be more culpable, and you should be liable for more severe punishments, compared with an ordinary employee.
“That’s really common sense, and there can be no question about that.
“It is now up to Parliament to amend the law. And that we should do, soon. We hope to make the amendment together with the other wide ranging amendments to the Penal Code.”

The Minister also advised that members of the public should not attack the judges even though they may be dissatisfied with the outcome of the City Harvest case. He said, “expressing one’s unhappiness with court decisions is fine – but it should not sink to the level of abuse, insult and contempt,” before adding:

“We have seen comments online that the judges let off those who are rich; that some judges were lenient because they were Christians and so on.
“This is not right. Judges should not be personally attacked, their integrity impugned, just because people do not agree with their decision … People are entitled to disagree with the decision. But let’s not attack the judges.
“The sentences reflect the law as it stands…The Courts decide these matters. All of us have to respect the decision, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with it.”

93 COMMENTS

  1. So what are u gonna do about it other than using your mouth to talk pointless words. U are totally aware that there is injustice but u chose to respect it anyway. So if a man is wrongfully sentenced to death due to some loopholes in our law, are u gonna respect that too instead of doing more to save the man’s life?
    Very disturbing logic u have there.

  2. Two sets of laws…unfortunately if u r local Singaporeans u get harsh jailed term (longer)….. for foreigners special prison treatment….shorter imprisonment. PR given to them like candies another loophole. Singapore is a gold mine for foreigners to become super rich. Sinkies are not street smart easily conned by the foreigners giving out generous donations! And you have to know who u know to connect… kaki kaki. That’s the game! Ironically, Singaporean bully Singaporean & keep silent! Look at the mess & madness!

  3. This is with the benefit of hindsight, Minister.
    This should have been pre empted, and the appropriate laws passed in Parliament way before this case.
    This lapse by the government has allowed the guilty birds to fly the coop with very lenient punishment.
    It saddens me to know that harsher punishments have been meted out to those in other cases who were involved in a fraction of the sums of CHC.

  4. No one above the law including the Chief Justice

    It’s time to send them into the classroom for CPD , just like all other professions in every field …

    Look at NKF saga n how many years he was behind bars!!!

    Many high profiles committed serious CORRUPTION landed in longer jail terms etc

    The government must step in and do what’s right in our justice systems in sentencing judgement or else future sentencing of criminals would
    be lopsided and may tarnish our image of all these judges including the CJ

    That’s my 2 cents worth …

  5. So PLEASE reinstates back the original sentence multiply by 2. 50M swindled,head of organisations somemore. Shouldnt he get triple the sentences the 2 Malay Ladies who swindled 5m society’s money? You should corrected what is wrong 1st than plugged the loophole

  6. Why the majority of citizens disagree with the verdicts and the final verdict? Simple answer: Where is justice? Someone mentioned “wayang all the way”. Can you blamed people for thinking so? The government said “it is important that the trust of the citizens must not be eroded”. Well, you can bet on that!

  7. To me the prosecutor should be blame for poor job done resulted in a lesser jail sentences! The judge is just doing his job …. where the Defend Lawyers has done a remarkable job!! Law minister should not have question the result but should respect it!

  8. Well, looks like Mr Shanmugam whom is the Law Minister have NO Control over this matter nor is our PAP themselve which goes to show sorry our Justice System is “Indirectly” screw-up and corrupted to the highest level and thathonestly speaking same goes to the woman charter matters whereby Woman are above the Laws versus MAN

  9. so….What Lee Hsien Yang says is pretty true ….we have lost faith in our Legal System whereby the AG have eventaken the matters to their own hand what i call is “Free-Hand to do what they like and out PM himself too have NO Say” well my 78% voter what have you to say

  10. If 1 or 2 people do not agree with the judges, I would stand by the justice system but I am sure the number is more then 1k-2k people that does not agree… this evidently proves there is a problem with our justice system! Why we shouldn’t criticize and comment on our useless judges!