Sunday, 6 December 2015

What if Kong Hee were truly sorry?

Recently, I thought about Kong Hee, his conviction and sentence. I wonder whether things would be different for him, the Church and Christianity at large if he had faced the music, admitted to the charges, and served the time meted out. How would it all pan out then? This led me to imagine what would happen if Kong Hee were repentant and apologized this time for real. Below is how it would all unfold for me (with some added drama of course)...

Kong Hee’s apology began early in the proceedings. It came at the heels of the 2-year investigation and just after Kong Hee was being charged for criminal breach of trust by dishonestly misappropriating funds belonging to CHC that had been entrusted to him. His apology is independent of his lawyer’s advice. He basically arrived at this crossroad on his own volition. He just needed to do this.

You can say that he had an attack of conscience. He could not sleep at night without facing the truth. Kong Hee knew that he could not keep up with the charades anymore. He wanted to come clean with his motive and deeds. He also prayed long and hard about it and God had convicted his heart. So, he told his lawyers that he wants to admit to the charges.

In fact, at the Pre-trial Conference, he told the DPP that he is not contesting or defending the charges. I imagine the Judge squinting at his lawyer and the latter nodded, saying, “Your Honor, my client wants to plead guilty to the charges, all of them. That is his instructions to me. He is very sure about it.” The DDP then kept quiet, if not a little startled. “Very well then,” said the Judge and a date was fixed for the next hearing to take the plea. When that day came, I imagine Kong Hee making this statement in mitigation for the Judge's consideration:-

“Your Honor, I admit to all the charges. I am guilty as charged. As the shepherd of the Church, I have disappointed my flock. I stand before you accepting full responsibility for what I as their leader have done. In fact, if it is possible, I beseech the prosecution to let the rest of the accused persons go and charge me instead. I am the one who is wholly accountable. I should be bearing all the blame, not them. They are innocent. They are just obeying me, their leader. (Turning to the other 5 accused) I am really sorry guys.

Your Honor, I admit that I was blinded by my ambition to make the Crossover project an uncompromising success. I should have seen the signs but I didn’t. I didn’t see it because I was conflicted in my heart. At the center of the Crossover project is Sun Ho and Sun Ho is my wife whom I love dearly. I admit that this marital devotion somehow overshadowed my evangelistic passion for the Church. At some point, I wanted more for Sun Ho to succeed as an international singer than I wanted more souls saved. I lost my bearings because I am guilty of making the person in the Crossover project a success at all costs. 

In my zealousness, I came up with the elaborate schemes for which I am now charged with to bankroll Sun Ho’s singing career. I needed to get part of the Building Funds out of the Church without attracting too much attention and suspicion. You see, I can’t allow discerning members like Roland Poon to blow the whistle again and complicate matters for Sun Ho and I. That would compromise the whole plan. At that time, the Crossover project was all Sun Ho and I can think about. This is where the sham bonds came in. This is the only way money could get out of the Church via an unsuspecting loan arrangement. But that was just the first part.

The second part is that I needed to control how the money disguised as a loan or bond was to be used. This is to ensure that every cent of it was invested in Sun Ho’s music career.  This is where Xtron came in.  It is a company set up to sell the bonds to the Church and it is also a company I would have full control behind the scene. Everything from the appointment of the director to how each cent is to be spent is controlled by me. This is the only way I can ensure that all the Building Funds used to purchase the bonds will be spent on Sun Ho’s music career.  This is where I exceeded the authority entrusted to me to use the Building Funds. It was neither for the building nor for investment. I just have to come clean on that.

As such, there was never any intention in the first place to buy the bonds to make a financial return for CHC. Even the maturity date for the bonds was made flexible and extended to keep the heart of the Crossover project beating - even though it was already in an ICU-state. The deception was to give the impression that the loan was legitimate and Xtron was wholly independent. Obviously they were not. I still held the puppet strings to both of them. It was therefore never a genuine investment for the benefit of the Church. Instead, it was a contrived cover-up for the benefit of the Crossover project. In other words, it was for Sun Ho's music career. That much can't be covered up by my haunting conscience.

I admit that I was not being candid with the Church. I could have just dispensed with the sham bonds and sham company altogether and tell it straight up to the Church that Sun Ho and I needed more money to be invested in the Crossover project, that is, in China wine and kill bill. But we were afraid that it would risk the whole project through time-consuming scrutiny, questioning and possible withdrawal of support. That was the risk we were not prepared to take. So, during that time, we thought that honesty was just not the most expedient policy.

The point is that I ought to have come to my senses when Sun Ho’s music career was making a substantial accumulated net loss along the way and when the Building Funds were put into further financial risk. I should have put a stop to it all and come clean then. But I didn’t. Oh how I wish I could turn back time…

Instead, I went the opposite direction and deepened the deceit. I went on stage with a straight face and told my beloved congregation that all is well, that Sun Ho’s stardom was shining ever so brightly. Alas, I pushed hard to give the impression that the Crossover project was and will be a resounding success when it was clearly not and I even shamelessly used God’s name to perpetuate that deception. To compound matters, I even engaged in hard selling by forcing the Church members to buy her albums to prop up sales. I did all this while keeping them in the dark. I kept the truth from them. I only disclosed to them the good stuff and sidelined the bad. Was I really driven by godly faith? Or was I just hoping that I could get away with all of that? How foolish...  

Your Honor, I had piled up one cover-up after another and another with the Firna's bond, the round-trippings to redeem the bond with more of the Church's money, and the falsification of accounts to derail all suspicion. I maneuvered under the shadows of surreptitiousness by inflating Sun Ho’s success, exceeding the authority entrusted to me with regards to the use of the Building Funds, persisting in hiding behind misleading labels like “mixed motive”, “dual purpose”, "theological legitimacy", and “hybrid intent” to twist the meaning of what the Building Fund was meant to be used for, setting up sham bonds and companies so as to avoid detection and to retain full control behind the scene, and playing a game of hide-and-seek with my auditors and lawyers by fudging the identity of the true mastermind behind the control of Xtron. 

For all these and more, I sincerely apologize. I regret them all. I want to come clean because my conscience and my ambition are fighting a colossal battle within me and I thank God that my conscience finally won. I thank God that I have finally come to my senses to take full responsibility as the leader of my beloved Church. It is the right thing to do and this is what I want my son to know. Daddy is only human and as a human being, I make mistakes. But what distinguishes us is that we confront our mistakes, admit to them, and make amends. I am completely ready to do just that, and I know nothing less will do.

Today, I stand before this Court, your Honor, the prosecution, my fellow accused persons, the public, my dear Church, and most of all, my God who loves me unconditionally, to say that I am truly, truly sorry.

In closing, I just want to say that there was a time when I did everything for the Church because I love her with all my heart. I was even willing to sacrifice all I have to the Church, to God. But along the way, I admit that I had fallen by the wayside. I took the easy road. I was misled by my own intemperate desires and appetites. I am like the prodigal son who wanted it all and regretted bitterly when all was taken from him by his own greed. I admit that many have left the Church and the Faith because of this. And the least I can do now is to stanch the bleeding, to take responsibility, to say I am sorry.

So I say "No more", “Enough is enough”. I want to start all over. I want to stand out to be counted. I want to set the record straight that I am fallible but not irredeemable, broken but not lost, fallen but not condemned. I ask for another chance. It's not over. I will return repentant. I will return stronger. I will return wholly grateful to be able to stand for what is right. Of course, I am no Apostle Paul. I am just a broken sinner who is on his way home.

Your Honor, please show me mercy and leniency. All I ever wanted is to further the kingdom of God. My love for the Church has not changed. I never intended to cause any harm or loss to the Church. I have made full restitution. I have come clean and admitted to my guilt at the first earliest opportunity, thus saving the Court’s resources and time. God knows how long a trial like this will take. I am truly remorseful. 

Please give me another chance. I shall bear all responsibility. And I reiterate that the other accused persons standing before you, my beloved deputy pastor and my devoted staff, they all have nothing to do with it. I am to be blamed, fully. I shall bear my own cross. That’s all I have to say. Thank you for your time sir. Thank you so much.”

With that, I imagine the Judge hearing the prosecution and passing the sentence. It was not a long one considering Kong Hee’s admission of guilt. In fact, the Judge commended Kong Hee for owning up to his mistakes and taking the road less travelled, the narrow road as a leader and a pastor.

The next scene in my imagination was in CHC. I saw myself standing at the back of the huge auditorium. Everybody was standing up, waiting eagerly. I too stood up. Then, Kong Hee appeared from behind the stage to thunderous applause. The congregation was literally rejoicing. No doubt Kong Hee looked a little haggard, jaded. The years must have taken its physical toll on him. But he was all smiles. He was beaming. he was happy. He placed his hands on his chest and was in tears. He went up to the pulpit, bowed for a long time, and finally said, “Thank you for standing behind the Church all these years. Dear Church, I’m back.” I noticed that everyone that day was in tears, including myself. Cheerz.

Postscript: The above narration is wholly fictitious. It didn't come to pass. It is not based on reality. It's in fact based on my wild, unhinged imagination. 

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