AGC will not take further action against City Harvest pastor over contemptuous tweets

A screen shot of City Harvest pastor Tan Kim Hock's Twitter feed. By 6:20pm, he had changed his privacy settings to "protected". (Screengrab from Twitter)

[Update Wednesday 11 June, 9:33am: Added latest update on Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC)]

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has decided that it will not take action against pastor Tan Kim Hock over his tweets that were deemed to be contemptuous of Singapore's courts.

A spokesman on Wednesday said, "We are satisfied that there has been substantive compliance with the requirements of our warning letter, and will not be taking any further action."

The City Harvest Church pastor has already removed his tweets since being issued warnings by AGC on Tuesday last week.

Tan, who is listed as a founding member and travelling mission pastor of the mega-church, posted a tweet to his account, @kimhock, on 5 May, the day Singapore’s State Courts overturned an application to acquit the six accused in the City Harvest Church funds misappropriation case.

“Wow, I’m amazed at the efficiency of ST. They knew it while the court is still going on or do they know earlier…” wrote Tan, while linking to the article breaking the news on The Straits Times’s website.

Responding to this, the AGC said Tan’s tweet implies that the Courts had given the national broadsheet preferential access to information about the outcome of the application to acquit the six accused, even before the decision by Presiding Judge See Kee Oon.

“The tweet thus further insinuates that the State Courts is biased and/or unfair, given that such treatment was not equally accorded to everyone else,” added a spokesperson for the AGC.

In reality, however, the story was published five minutes after Presiding Judge See ruled that the six accused had a case to answer, hence rendering the insinuations in Tan’s tweet “baseless and untrue”, said the AGC.

In another tweet the next day, Tan quoted a verse from the Bible, which reads, “I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt!”

“Mr Tan has put forward no basis whatsoever for the insinuations in in the Ecclesiastes tweet that the ‘courts of law’ in Singapore are ‘corrupt’, or that the Court hearing the City Harvest Trial is corrupt,” said the AGC in response.

On 9 May, Tan removed the tweet quoting the Bible verse, and tweeted, “On hindsight, I realise that the tweet may be possibly misinterpreted and I have since removed it.” His tweet linking to the Straits Times article, however, remained on his feed until after he received the AGC’s warnings on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the AGC has also sought an apology from Tan for the posting of both tweets within a week from Tuesday, noting that action may be taken against him if he fails to do so.

By about 6:20pm, Tan changed his Twitter privacy settings to “protected”.

City Harvest founder Kong Hee, as well as four other leaders and a former church member, are on trial for channelling some $24 million in church building funds toward the advancement of Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun's singing career, as well as the shifting of another $26.6 million to cover the first amount.

Last month, the State Courts threw out an application made by lawyers for the accused to acquit them of all their charges, ruling that the evidence provided by the prosecution shows that they do have a case to answer. All six have since indicated their willingness to take the stand to testify in their defence accordingly.

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