City Harvest Church Kong Hee lambasted the Straits Times for using an anonymous investor’s quote to smear his reputation suggesting that he leads a high life because he owns a luxurious penthouse. In a media response on his website, KongHee.com, the pastor also said that he and his co-owner doesn’t own a yacht, which the government state media The Straits Times reported.
You may view his original response here:
Kong Hee responds to ST report
Today (2 July 2015) an article appeared in the Straits Times titled “City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee puts Sentosa Cove home for sale for $10m” by Joyce Lim.
I was surprised and saddened by the contents of the article because significant portions of it are misleading and exaggerated.
To begin with, the “investor” quoted in the article is unnamed and anonymous.
The property that my family and I have been living in is co-owned with another family. We have been living at this property with the co-owner’s kind permission after we had to sell our properties in order to pay the legal expenses for the ongoing trial.
The article quotes the “investor” using superlative terms to describe the property, implying that its furnishings are grand and luxurious. I don’t know the intentions and motives of this “investor”, but my family and I would respectfully disagree with what he is trying to suggest.
There is no denying that we are blessed and privileged to be staying at Sentosa Cove. However, we are under no illusion that this is only our temporary home, until the property is sold. The article has given the impression that this unit was only just put up for sale. In reality, the co-owner and I have been trying to sell this property for some time.
I am particularly surprised that the “investor” reportedly said he had “the impression that the owner sure knows how to enjoy the high life”. Suffice to say that those who know and are around me, my family and friends, know perfectly well what we have gone through over the past 5 years, and what we continue to go through today can hardly be called “the high life”.
Lastly, I am shocked by the alleged offer made by the agent to take the “investor” out on the owner’s “yacht”. I do not, and have never owned a yacht. As far as I am aware, the co-owner, who does not live in Singapore, also does not own a yacht.
The agent contacted my staff today to apologize. Her message reads:
“Please be reassured I was totally unaware of the intentions of the viewers and believed them to be potential buyers only. I am totally upset that it has caused such adverse publicity for Pastor and his family. The yacht story is also untrue. So sorry this happened.”
The Singapore media ranks 153rd in terms of press freedom and independence. Singapore state-controlled media like The Straits Times and The New Paper often quote anonymous sources to bring forward their reporting agenda, that aligns and support the government. Typically used on Opposition figures and anti-PAP activists, Kong Hee could have been just the latest victim of their smearing.