Ho Yeow Sun
|Ho Yeow Sun|
|Pinyin||Hé Yàoshān (Mandarin)|
|Birth name||Yeow-Sun Ho (何耀珊)|
2 June 1972 |
|Other name(s)||Sun Ho, He Yao Sun, Sun|
executive director, City Harvest Church
|Genre(s)||Pop music, Mandarin Pop|
|Label(s)||Warner Music Taiwan|
Ho started as a pastor when she was 20 years old with her present husband, the convicted criminal Kong Hee, founding City Harvest Church. She was a dedicated pastor before relocating to Taiwan, where she would do most of her recordings, in her late twenties to pursue her dream of becoming a Mandarin-pop singer. She subsequently worked with producers and performers such as Wyclef Jean, Diane Warren, The Underdogs, David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager.
Ho is one of the co-founders of City Harvest Church and its community services and is married to Kong Hee. She resumed her role as the Executive Director of the church in Singapore after two suspension orders against her were lifted in May 2013 by the Commissioner of Charities (COC).
Sun Ho led City Harvest Church's Creative Department from 1992 until early 2001, when she resigned and relocated to Taiwan, where she would do most of her recordings, to pursue her singing career. At the beginning of her pop career, she faced accusations that her dressing was inappropriate for her religious background, and rumours of her using her church's support to aid in album sales. After a series of successful concerts, she had the opportunity to further develop her career outside of Singapore, focusing on China, Taiwan and the US. In 2010, Sun Ho was questioned by the Singapore Police when City Harvest Church came under investigation for alleged misuse of funds.
From 2002 to 2007, Ho, based in Taiwan, released a succession of five Mandarin pop albums through Warner Music Taiwan, that have either reached double or triple platinum status. During this five-year period, Ho worked with composers such as Ma Yufen (马毓芬), the late Ma Zhaojun (马兆骏) F.I.R., Milk, Arys Chien (深白色), Lee Wei Song (李伟菘), and Tan Han Jin (陈奂仁). "Lonely Travel" was ranked No. 1 on nine top music charts. Her next album "Gain" released in 2006 reached No. 1 position on 10 top music charts. In 2007, Ho released "Embrace" which hit No. 1 on 11 top music charts. Her song, "Starting Point", was used as theme song for Singapore TV series "Turning Point" based on real-life inspirational stories, of which Ho was the host.
In 2003, Ho broke into Hollywood with her debut American single "Where Did Love Go," produced by David Foster and Peter Rafelson. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play "Breakout" Chart in December 2003. Subsequently, three of her singles, "One With You", "Without Love" and "Gone" reached No. 1 positions on the Billboard Dance Chart. "Ends Of The Earth" also joined the abovementioned three singles to reach No. 1 positions on the UK MusicWeek Chart. Since 2003, Ho has worked with a number of musicians such as Jimmy Harry, Diane Warren, Tony Moran, Chris Cox, Eric Kupper, Jason Nevins, Moto Blanco and the Underdogs.
In February 2008, Ho sang the inaugural Mandarin rendition of the 100-year-old Olympic Hymn at the opening of the "Olympic Philately & Cultural Tour" launched by The Beijing Olympics. Held at the Royal Theatre within the Forbidden City, Ho was accompanied by a choir of overseas Chinese from 16 different nationalities.
The City Harvest trial and other controversies
On 31 May 2010, the Office of the Commissioner of Charities and the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police began to call up more than 18 individuals linked to the City Harvest Church, including Ho and her husband Pastor Kong Hee, to assist in investigations, after receiving complaints alleging the misuse of church funds. The police was looking into financial transactions involving the possible falsification of accounts and criminal breach of trust amounting to millions of dollars which dated back a number of years. The authorities said that regular church activities and services for the congregation need not be disrupted during ongoing investigations, which is expected to take several months.
In June 2012, Kong Hee and four other members of the church were arrested by the CAD. All five face multiple charges of criminal breach of trust, while three face multiple charges of falsifying accounts of the church. On the same day as the initial arrests, the COC released a press statement detailing the results of its inquiry. It stated that there were misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity. There were irregularities of at least $23 million in the charity's funds, which were used to finance Ho's secular music career to connect with people. Approximately S$3 million of donated and tithed money was used for Ho's expenditures. Eight members were suspended from their duties with the charity. The eight included the five arrested, Ho and two others. The COC is considering further course of action under the Charities Act. Ho herself has not been charged.
As the trial progressed, it was revealed in court that City Harvest Church spent $500,000 to purchase 32,000 of Ho's unsold albums.
Kong Hee, along with five other board members of City Harvest Church, were found guilty of multiple charges of criminal breach of trust and falsifying of the church's financial accounts. Elaborating on the charges of criminal breach of trust, the court ruled that Ho's perceived success was inflated through heavy sponsorship from church members and supporters to prop up her Mandarin album sales and promote her career.
Among Ho's extravagant expenses, including living in an upscale Los Angeles house that costs $200,000 a month while she was working on her heavily-criticised Geisha and "vampy rapper-singer" production, sponsored from her husband and accomplices' misuse of $50 million of church funds, Ho engaged Grammy-winning producer Wyclef Jean for US$1.5 million with the hope of eventually selling 1.5 million copies of her album. It was this move that substantially increased the amount of money required to fund her album to $11 million. However, in his verdict, Judge See Kee Oon criticised that it was "no more than optimistic hope" for Kong and his accomplice to believe that her debut US album would even be able to sell more than 200,000 copies.
It was also later revealed that Xtron, the sham company set up to hold siphoned church funds for the purpose of promoting Ho's entertainment career, was operating in massive deficit while her Mandarin albums incurred losses.
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