Referring to the City Harvest Church case, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said today that “the matter is not over yet”. This was after many members of the public expressed their discomfort over the greatly reduced sentences after Kong Hee and his associates appealed their initial sentences.
Minister Shanmugam said he agreed with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) that the original sentences were too low. He said:
“Now if you look at the background, AGC believed that the original sentence, say for example, 8 years for Pastor Kong Hee and the sentences for the others was too low, which is why they appealed. And they told us they were appealing, they told the government. and they gave their reasons to us, and the government believed that the original sentences….were too low as well.
The High Court has disagreed (the High Court in this case sitting with three judges) but if you look at it in terms of judges including the lower court judge, two judges thought either the sentences should be as they are, or higher. Two judges felt that it should be lower, and a key reason for the majority judgement was to consider directors to be not agents. So they took the existing important charge and replaced it with a lower charge. and that resulted in a lower sentence.”
Shanmugam added that this might have “serious implications” on future corruption cases.
“I’ve asked the new Attorney General and the new Deputy Attorney General to look into this. It may take time, but we’ve got good people at the top and they should be able to deal with it.”