This afternoon, I was discussing with a really Smart Insider in The SG Music Industry about the City Harvest Case. I am unsure if my friend wants to be named publicly so I shall keep him anonymous in this post.
I’d previously written about City Harvest Church here and here and have received really strong comments from some readers. Judging from current online discourse, it does seem way more unpopular to speak FOR the various accused in this City Harvest Church court case rather than against.
Anyway, this friend voiced the following opinion that I found intriguing:
“Lying is not a crime, you know.”
This was against the context of how Kong Hee lied publicly that none of the money they raised for the Crossover project was used for Sun Ho’s career.
The lying part is clearly verifiable.
So why might Kong Hee lie? There are at least three possibilities:
- Possibility #1: As leader of City Harvest Church, he did not want his decisions to be challenged. He also did not want seeds of doubts to be planted in the minds of followers. He might have also thought that how the church raises and uses funds is an internal church affair and not for the public to question;
- Possibility #2: Kong Hee really did intend for church money to be used for Sun Ho’s career;
- Possibility #3: When Roland Poon raised the doubt about money being used for Sun Ho’s career, he might have done it in an accusatory tone and frame. Kong Hee and his team responded by lying because it was too complicated to explain their unconventional stance to a non-Christian public. The CHC management did not want to kill the idea behind the Crossover Project (thought to be potentially big at that time) even before it started.
Correspondingly, assuming good intentions from the perspective of the CHC management, the act of lying and subsequent lying raised a few questions:
- If Kong Hee and his team did lie with good intentions and proper accounting, should they still go to jail?
- How about if they lie with good intentions and accounting is somewhat sloppy? Should they then go to jail for long?
- How about if they lie with good intentions and accounting is “made creative” to accomodate the lie? Should they then go to jail for long?
- How about if they lie with good intentions, accounting is somewhat sloppy, AND people who give them money insist that they forgive them? Then, should they still go to jail for long?
So you see, this case is not simple. If you really believed with your heart and soul in the Crossover Project, would you lie to prevent the possibility of negative perception of the public? Remember that it is THEY you want to convert. SO, you have to have a neutral or positive impression of yourself in front of them first. (If not how to convert?)
Back to my conversation with the smart friend. We disagreed on some points but mainly agreed on one important thing: Kong Hee and co simply chose the wrong region/ wrong timing to do their crossover project.
Which goes back to the point–
If the investment in “music-artise-cum-evangelist” Sun Ho had been successful, would Kong Hee and co be charged in court? Even if zero cent of the ROI goes into the churchgoers’ pockets?
How do you measure the ROI of “souls converted to Christ”, and over what time period?
I think the whole case is just illogical, because it started from an illogical premise, a so-called abstract “faith”.
In addition, here are some hard figures to illustrate how much a music album can cost, and investment in the music industry is generally seen to be one with relatively high risk. Even prominent musicians can generate loss-making albums at times. Likewise, even initial nobodies can spring to fame with relatively low promotional costs:
- “Gun and Roses”– USD13 million for the album “Chinese Democracy”. Mediocre results.
- “Michael Jackson”– USD30 million for his album “Invincible”. Sold 6 million copies worldwide and this venture is STILL not considered profitable.
- “Stefanie Sun”–“only” NT$300,000 (S$12,700) was spent to promote Sun’s debut album– “She is Sun Yan Zi”. This album sold 150,000 copies within a month of its release. Note that SGD12,700 is solely for promotion and excludes production and training costs. Stefanie Sun is known to have trained and worked really hard (= must have paid a lot for vocal/ singing classes) before the official launch of her first album.
So you see, it is not cheap to be in the Music Industry. Would you consider USD50 million to fund some years for Sun Ho in Hollywood to be a huge amount, considering that any musical production in the Music Industry is a risky investment?
Then the next question is–
“Is Sun Ho the ‘best fit’ for the Crossover Project?”
Well, since the Crossover Project is a “religion + secular pop music” sort of project, then she could well be argued as “the best fit” even though she’s not considered very talented or pretty by any musical industry’s standards. Furthermore, she is the female face of the church and higher management does trust her.
Frankly, I am really curious about the case’s outcome in a few hours. Personally, I am interested in this appeal outcome because this case really highlighted how people perceive the world via their unique bubbles/ lens/ delusions/ cognitive biases.
So if “this” is their reality, who is anyone to say that it is not real? Or is the fault mainly with improper accounting since there are legal (secular) restrictions placed on huge organizations like megachurches in Singapore , worsened by blatant evidences of various parties of City Harvest Church lying?
Interesting case, yes? Well, my view is that they will definitely go to jail–it is simply a question now of how long. Let’s see in a few hours.