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Singapore slashes jail term for showbiz pastor

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The head of a wealthy Singaporean Christian church who spent $35m in congregation funds on a failed bid to promote his wife’s music career, had his jail term slashed on appeal on Friday.

The case, which involved raunchy music videos featuring celebrities like rapper Wyclef Jean alongside the wife of City Harvest Church’s leader Kong Hee, originally saw the senior pastor handed an eight year jail term.

But Singapore’s High Court halved the 52-year-old’s 2015 sentence for misusing around Sg$50m ($35.6m) in church funds in the failed attempt to turn his wife Sun Ho, also a pastor, into a global pop star.

The case was described by state prosecutors as the largest misappropriation of charity funds in Singapore’s legal history.

Prosecutors had argued that Kong should be jailed 11-12 years, but the high court on Friday sentenced him to three years and six months jail.

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Five other leaders at the glitzy megachurch, which used pop music to attract members and boost donations, also saw their original prison sentences reduced by the court ruling.

A district court in 2015 convicted all six church leaders of fraud for diverting Sg$24m from the church building fund to help Sun, a Mandarin pop singer, break into the global English-language market.

They were also found guilty of misappropriating another Sg$26m to cover their tracks with a complex web of sham financial transactions.

Sun moved to Los Angeles in 2009 where she starred in several racy videos, including China Wine, which was widely viewed – and ridiculed – on YouTube.

Appeals court judge Chao Hick Tin said the prison terms were cut as the six had acted in what they felt were the best interests of the church.

“The project was endorsed by the body of CHC,” the judge said.

Tiny Singapore is one of the world’s most affluent nations. Despite being a largely Buddhist and Taoist society, the city-state is home to well-funded Christian groups.

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24 days to Election in Nigeria, Obiageli Ezekwesili quits presidential race.

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The leading female candidate in Nigeria’s presidential election said on Thursday she had withdrawn from the race weeks ahead of the poll to help build a coalition to provide a viable alternative to the country’s two main parties.

Former government minister Obiageli Ezekwesili, co-founder of a group to raise awareness about more than 200 girls kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in 2014, said on Twitter that she had been in talks for three months with other candidates about a coalition.



Nigeria’s presidential election is scheduled to take place on Feb. 16. The main candidates in the race to head Africa’s top oil producing country are the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, and Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president who is representing the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

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“I have decided to step down from the presidential race and focus on helping to build a coalition for a viable alternative to the #APCPDP in the 2019 general,” said Ezekwesili in a tweet.

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Ezekwesili was not considered to be among the frontrunners in the race. Analysts see President Buhari and Abubakar as the only genuine contenders due to the financial power and patronage networks provided by their parties.

Ezekwesili, a former government minister, is a founder of the civil society organization Transparency International. She was considered for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her anti-corruption work.

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Thailand pick March 24 for first general election

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Thailand Election Commission has confirmed its readiness to carryout their first election on March 24, chairman Ittiporn Boonprakong told the  newsmen.



The commission admitted that the elections would have been held on Feb. 24, but the military government expressed concern that election-related events would clash with early preparations for the coronation of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, scheduled for May 4-6.

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In a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister said it would be inappropriate for election events to “unnecessarily coincide with the scheduling of the Coronation Ceremony.

The junta has pushed back the election several times for various reasons after overthrowing the democratically elected government of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014,

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duo the delay has lead to street protests for months, but he said that there is need for everybody to maintain peace in-order to protect the image of  country.

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