The woman in the middle of it all
SINGAPORE - She burst onto the pop music scene in 2002 as the "singing pastor" and, in five years, released five Mandarin albums that reached either double or triple platinum status.
But Ms Sun Ho's early career was dogged by controversy: There were those who felt her dressing was inappropriate for someone with a religious background; some members of City Harvest Church (CHC), which she co-founded with her husband Kong Hee, also expressed uneasiness over CHC's support of her pop career.
One year after she entered the glitzy entertainment business, accusations of CHC funding her musical exploits flew her way, although the accuser subsequently publicly apologised and recanted his statements.
Despite these, Ms Ho, 42, continued to blaze her way in overseas markets - her first five English-language releases peaked the dance club charts of Billboard Magazine and Music Week - although her success in Singapore was rather less spectacular.
She also scored several firsts for an Asian pop singer, such as being invited to the Hollywood Film Festival in 2003 and the 2007 MTV Europe awards. She went on to work with noted producers and performers like Wyclef Jean and David Foster.
After five prolific years in the music scene, Ms Ho's musical works started drying up after 2007. Her last Mandarin album was released in March 2007.
According to a media statement on its inquiry findings on CHC, the Commissioner of Charities (COC) said it found financial irregularities of at least S$23 million in the mega-church's funds. The money was used with the "purported intention to finance (Ms Ho's) secular music career" from 2007 to 2010, it said.
Earlier media reports said she was renting a S$28,000-a-month home in Hollywood Hills when the Commercial Affairs Department probes into CHC began in May 2010.
Ms Ho is not facing any criminal charges but is among the eight who have been censured by the COC.
By Teo Xuanwei
27 June 2012