In a Facebook post this morning, millionaire City Harvest Church pastor Kong Hee has accused the Straits Times (ST) of lying about how luxurious Kong's Sentosa Cove home is. He was responding to an article written by ST using information obtained from an unnamed investor, who had allegedly viewed Kong Hee's home while making an offer to buy it.
In that article, Kong Hee's high end Sentosa home was described as being fitted with luxurious and grand furnishings. In an attempt to "sweeten the deal", the investor also claims that Kong Hee had offered to take the investor out for a tour on his yacht.
In his post, Kong Hee says he "respectfully disagreed" with the "grandoise and luxurious" terms used to describe his Sentosa home, and questioned the motives of ST's mysterious, unnamed investor. He took pains to describe his residence there as only temporary - he claims that his family had moved into the Sentosa home only after he had to sell his other properties to pay for legal fees.
Kong admitted that his family was "blessed" enough to live in the property, but only regarded the place as their "temporary home" because they have been trying to sell the property for some time. Kong first bought the property for $9.3 million in 2007 and is asking for $10 million.
He also disputed a statement attributed to ST's investor, who said that the Kongs "knew how to live the high life". He said: "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 five years, and what we continue to go through today can hardly be called 'the high life'."
Kong added that the investor could have been lying about the alleged yacht ride offered because neither he, his family or his co-owner owned a yacht.
Kong Hee's full statement:
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."