2 men who helped ex-CHC leader Chew Eng Han’s failed escape jailed

Photo of sampan used in the failed escape by ex-City Harvest Church leader Chew Eng Han

Two men who helped former City Harvest Church leader Chew Eng Han to attempt his escape from Singapore via a boat from Pulau Ubin were sentenced to jail on Friday (13 July).

Tan Poh Teck, 53, a Singaporean who owns a fish farm off Pulau Ubin, and Tan Kim Ho, 42, a Malaysian tour guide, were jailed six months and three weeks, and six months, respectively, after they pleaded guilty to one count each under the Immigration Act of abetting Chew, 58, to leave Singapore from an unauthorised point of departure. Poh Teck had two other similar charges, involving two other persons, taken into consideration for his sentence.

Poh Teck piloted the motorised sampan which Chew escaped in on 21 February this year. Kim Ho had told a third man he can arrange for someone to help Chew leave Singapore for a sum of $8,000. The man, Malaysian Khoo Kea Leng, 45, was jailed for six months on 12 April this year.

Khoo conveyed the message to Chew and quoted him a price of $12,000 to be split equally between Khoo, Kim Ho and the second of two boatmen who would bring Chew to Malaysia.

On the evening of 20 February, Chew met Khoo in Marine Drive and passed him $8,000 as initial payment for his planned escape. Khoo asked Chew to pass the remaining $4,000 to the second boatman. Using Chew’s phone, Khoo called Kim Ho, who then spoke to Chew and advised him to bring a cap and fishing equipment to give the impression that he was going fishing.

Khoo then left for Johor Bahru on the same day and handed over $4,000 to Kim Ho and an “Uncle Shun” at a coffeeshop.

Separately, Poh Teck received a call from “Lao Bai”, who asked him to pick up Chew at Changi Village and drop him off the northeast part of the sea off Pulau Ubin. There, Chew would get onto “Lao Bai’s” boat and escape to Malaysia. Poh Teck was supposed to get $1,000 for his effort.

The following day, at about 7am, Chew was driven by his brother to Changi Village. Later, Poh Teck called Chew to meet at Pulau Ubin jetty instead due to police craft patrolling the area.

After taking a bumboat to Pulau Ubin, Chew called Poh Teck and the latter then directed the boat towards the jetty. Poh Teck picked Chew up and steered the boat eastwards but was then intercepted by the Police Coast Guard.

Chew was allegedly caught off Pulau Ubin a day before he was supposed to begin serving his jail term of three years and four months for his role in the misuse of millions in church funds. He was originally sentenced to six years’ jail for his part in the scam.

He and five other former CHC leaders, including 53-year-old church founder Kong Hee, were convicted in October 2015 of misappropriating some $50 million in church funds in relation to the music career of Kong’s wife Sun Ho.

Following a High Court appeal, Kong; deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 45; former finance manager Serina Wee, 41; former finance committee member John Lam, 50; former finance manager Sharon Tan, 42, and Chew had their original sentences reduced. Their reduced jail terms range from seven months to three years and six months.

Chew’s case for his attempted escape will be heard next at a pre-trial conference.