Over the past 2 weeks since Kong began to testify in court, the media reported that all the 50 individual passes reserved for the public to view the trial of 6 CHC’s leaders have been snapped up very quickly each morning when the passes become available.
And yet, the courtroom is half-empty.
By late morning yesterday, the court decided to allow members of the public without any pass reservations to fill the courtroom.
Indeed, the courtroom was then quickly filled up by members of public, all eager to hear what Kong Hee had to say in the CHC trial.
Without the passes, members of the public can only view the courtroom proceedings from the outside.
According to the website information from statecourts.gov.sg [Link]:
Public access to Courtroom is based on first-come-first-seated basis. The Courtroom will open 30 minutes before the hearing starts. A queue pole will be set up outside the Courtroom for crowd management, when necessary.
For cases of high public interest which are likely to attract a larger than usual turnout, there will be a limit to the number of seats allocated in the Courtroom (e.g. to family members of person charged in court, prosecutors, defence counsel, court interpreters, etc.) where the case is heard. Under such circumstances, queue poles will be set up outside the Court building to facilitate orderliness due to the large crowd. The State Courts will issue a special pass (transferrable) to members of the public who wish to observe the proceedings of the case.
The special passes will be issued outside the Court building on each day of the trial, before the hearing starts. When all the special passes (for the morning or afternoon) are issued, members of the public will be notified that the Courtroom is full. There will be no entry into the Court building until further notice. This is to prevent exceeding the occupancy load of the building and to ensure that fire safety regulations are complied with.
It’s not known who have been queuing for the passes in the morning to attend the court hearing but yet choose not to turn up in court.
It’s also not known why these people are doing this, since there are obviously many other people who are really interested to hear Kong’s testimony in court. These people who “choped” seats but didn’t turn up are depriving others of the chance to hear Kong’s testimony at first hand.
Meanwhile, in court today (22 Aug), the prosecution produced minutes of the meeting in 2008, in a bid to show that Xtron was controlled by the church and being used to funnel church monies to finance the pop music career of Kong’s wife Sun Ho.
Prosecution said Kong was listed as an “invisible” manager in the minutes of a meeting that laid out the management structure of Xtron Productions, while another church board member Suraj was listed as “ghost director”. Xtron was Ms Ho’s artiste management firm then.
In defence, Kong said he is an “invisible patron” of many organisations because of his position as a pastor. He had earlier maintain the CHC and Xtron were independent entities operating at arm’s length from each other.
The trial continues.