Law Minister K Shanmugam expressed his outrage at the Apex Court, posting on Facebook right after he heard that his Attorney General Chambers (AGC) lost a bid against the former leaders of City Harvest Church:
“This is a serious matter.
I will make a Ministerial Statement in Parliament on the Government’s position.”
The Apex Court has earlier rejected the AGC’s bid to increase the sentencing of pastor Kong Hee and five other church leaders who misappropriated S$50 million to fund the pastor’s wife, Sun Ho’s doomed singing career.
In 2015, the six were found guilty for a more severe clause under the Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT), which were reserved for public servants, bankers, merchants and “agents” – warranting a maximum of life imprisonment. The 2015 ruling sentenced the six to jail between 21 months and 8 years.
The six church leaders appealed and won in April 2017, as the High Court accepted that their appeal that they do not fall under the “agent” category. They were then charged under a lesser clause under the CBT. The six then had their sentenced reduced to between 7 months and 3½ years.
The AGC was furious to heard that the church leaders won the appeal and filed a Criminal Reference appeal with the Apex Court. In August 2017, the Deputy Attorney General Hri Kumar publicly criticised the High Court as “absurd”. The former PAP MP was not charged for contempt of court.
The Apex Court yesterday (Feb 1) rejected the AGC’s bid to increase sentencing. Justice Andrew Phang told the AGC to go back to the Parliament to enact new laws as it is not his job to do so:
“The shaping of a remedy should be left to Parliament. (After all) the separation of powers… is the bedrock of our Constitution.”