I have just read the news update on the City Harvest case that another church leader, Serina Wee, the former finance chief of City Harvest Church, was charged with 10 criminal charges. I have a feeling that the dragnet will increase in size and that more people will be implicated in this case.
However, what really caught my attention was that Kong Hee is represented by ruling party PAP Member of Parliament Edwin Tong. MP Tong is also a partner at the law firm Allen & Gledhill. For those not in the known, a MP is considered a part-time job in Singapore. Majority of the Singaporean MPs are not really involved in policy-making and usually stick to the party line (read: PAP). Policy-making is usually left to the political bigwigs (Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, and the permanent secretaries). Hence, the reason why MP Tong can take the time to represent Kong Hee in the City Harvest case.
The other five church leaders have employed Senior Counsels. As Straits Times succinctly states, “A Senior Counsel is a lawyer considered as an elite among the profession”. So the other five are not doing too badly on the legal front either. But I wonder why Kong Hee gets the best of the best: a legal bigwig and a politician.
That being said, this is going to be a very interesting case, especially with a team of legal heavyweights representing Kong Hee and the other five church leaders. I wonder who the prosecutor for this case is. That poor shmuck.
Unfortunately, I am not able to keep up to date with the case as my laptop is being repaired. So my only means of accessing the Internet will be through my very small Blackberry screen (which makes it hard for me to browse comfortably) or through the computers at university (where most labs are not open 24/7). However, I will try my best to update my blog on the City Harvest case.
You must, by now, be wondering about that weird title I have for this post. All in good time, all in good time.
Throughout the past 2 years or so, I have mentioned Unimates a couple of times in this blog (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here). Unimates is the international student society at University of Sydney. Basically, Unimates assist International students in settling down while organizing events and trips around Sydney, and sometimes outside the New South Wales state. Unimates also aim to foster closer multicultural ties between International and local students. After all, Unimates do get a lot of nationalities from all over the world.
I was formerly the President of Unimates.
Before I left my position at the end of May this year, I overhauled the entire Unimates constitution. In the process, I added a new position called President Emeritus (or Emerita for a female). The title of President Emeritus/Emerita is conferred upon the Immediate Past President of Unimates and allows perks such as discounts, chauffeured cars, housing allowance, wining and dining allowance, and heavily discounted flight tickets (Singapore Airlines, economy class).
Pretty sweet, eh? Unfortunately the benefits are not true. If I really put that in the Constitution, the Clubs and Societies Office, and the University of Sydney Union (USU) board will have my head.
The President Emeritus/Emerita does get one benefit though. Waived membership fee. That’s all. And to get the title of President Emeritus/Emerita, one must serve out their full term. And the title is only applicable to the Immediate Past President.
The President Emeritus/Emerita is purely a ceremonial and adviserial role. So basically, I do jackshit. When I included this role into the Constitution, one of my friends told me I should name it President Mentor, modelled after Lee Kuan Yew’s former Minster Mentor role, so that I can retain vast powers within the Unimates Committee.
“Nah,” I said, “not going to do that.”
I mean, it’s fun to be President. But a lot of people seem to forget that with great powers come great responsibilities. I was burned out after a while. So it was a relief for me to finish my term and hand over all Presidential powers to Patrick. My ‘job’ now is to just give out some advice when needed and just basically let the new Committee do their job. So basically, I went from the driver’s seat to the back of the bus. I’m just in for the ride. Heh.
I was talking to a friend last night at the university’s Sydney Welcome Party (organized by the International Student Lounge, Unimates’ close partner in crime). He asked me how I felt, now that I was no longer President.
“Happy,” I said.
“Yeah, it was a lot of work being President. There was a lot of stuff to do. Now I’m just going to take it easy for my last semester and prepare myself for the working world.”
Even my ceremonial role as President Emeritus is not established, hence the quotation marks around them in the title. The Clubs and Societies Office have approved the new Constitution, so that’s one hurdle cleared. But the USU Board will only ratify the Constitution in a month’s time. So nothing’s official yet.
That being said, the new Committee is doing a fantastic job, thanks to the boundless enthusiasm of the new President, Patrick, and from the other committee members. In the past (and during my term), Unimates’ website operated from a WordPress blog. However, the current IT Officer, Kevin, has recently created a new Unimates website at http://usydunimates.org.au/. Go take a look at the new website, send an email to Unimates if you have any suggestion for improvement, and if you are coming to Sydney Uni as an International Student or Exchange Student, you know which society to join.