"CHC’s New Home: Suntec Convention Centre" was the title of a news article that appeared on the front page of The Sunday Times, on March 7th, 2010. An extract of the article is reproduced below:
"Amid cheers from the congregation, City Harvest Church (CHC) yesterday announced that it will pay $310 million to become a co-owner of Suntec Singapore, a prime piece of downtown real estate.
Senior pastor Kong Hee broke the news first at CHC's service at its Jurong West building, then later at another service at the Singapore Expo in Changi.
He said CHC had acquired a 'substantial stake in a consortium company that owns 80 per cent of a joint venture fund that owns Suntec Singapore'.
The complex's full name is Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The $310 million includes the cost of acquiring shares in the consortium, rental costs, renovation costs and others.
Suntec Singapore was acquired by ARA Asset Management through the ARA Harmony Fund last year, with its investors comprising Suntec Reit - which holds 20 per cent - and a consortium company which holds 80 per cent."
On March 8th, 2010, Kong Hee, the senior pastor of CHC posted a blog entry which elaborated more on the matter. By 12 March, 2010, the blog entry attracted more than 160 comments.
One of the most interesting comments was made on March 12th, 2010 at 12.20am, by John, apparently an executive member of CHC, in response to a comment made on March 11th, 2010 at 10.16pm by Derek Dunn, the executive pastor of CHC. John's comment is reproduced below:
"Dear Pastor Derek,
I shall accord you the respect you deserve as an Executive Pastor and return the politeness in my reply to you. I guess it’s not in my place to accept the apology concerning remarks made about the other church which was named openly by Pastor Kong Hee, but I do appreciate the gesture. As to whether it was done intentionally or not, I have to say that you know it’s not the first time. I do hope that we learn to treat our fellow brothers with respect since we are all in the same family. We may differ in our interpretation of scripture, but to categorize them with sinners is very uncalled for.
With regards to the truth behind the Suntec deal, I guess it may be a true fact about the non-disclosure but at the same time it is also a convenient excuse to not divulge very key information that is crucial for the confidence and full-hearted support of this deal by every member. I still do not understand why the leaders agree to a non-disclosure for the sake of Harmony’s shareholders when the members of the church, who are essentially shareholders too, are kept in the dark.
I agree that minority could mean anything from 1 share to 1 short of 50%, but you, of all people, should know that the stake purchased, based on our available funds and based on sound reasoning, is going to be found in the far lower half of that range. Yes, maybe in time to come when the full $310M is raised, but not now and certainly not in the near future.
This is one other reason why people like me are unhappy. To see our leaders say things that is technically not a lie but yet leads to a certain impression. And it results in our members, especially the young ones, going around declaring, blogging, twitting and facebooking we own Suntec City, have 1,000,000 sq ft, we have 78 years lease, the other church will pay rent to us and all for $310M, compared to other church who pay $500M for 30 years (evidenced in contributions above).
Please… even if we have a better deal, should we have such an attitude? This kind of behavior is a reflection of a leadership that is always comparing, competing and always needing to be number one. I know somebody’s got to be number one but it’s the competitiveness and the strong driving ethos of the church that makes many of our members to behave this way.
Why don’t the leadership do something and correct the wrong impressions concerning the building? I’m sure something can be done without infringing on the NDA.
Pastor Derek, with regards to the building, you don’t have to answer since it’ll be difficult to clarify without disclosing confidential info. I trust that you really believe you are doing the right thing for CIty Harvest Church and I respect you for being able to articulate your response to me in such an honorable and respectful demeanor.
Pardon my candidness in certain portions but it is really said without malice.
Note: Should you have any comments, please do NOT leave them here. I'd encourage you to visit the pastor's blog, read through the blog post as well as the responses, and then leave your comments there. Thanks!