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Church denies link with quake e-mail

October 8, 2001

A LOCAL church said it has nothing to do with a widely circulated e-mail stating that a Singapore couple predicted that a huge earthquake will happen here.

The Elim Church has expressed concern about being linked to the e-mail, which warns people to stock up on food and clothes in preparation for an earthquake on Oct 21, even though Singapore is not located in an earthquake-prone belt.

The unidentified writer of the e-mail wrote that on Sept 15 at the church, a Singaporean couple spoke of their visions and forecast disasters that would befall many countries, including Singapore.

The e-mail also claimed that the couple had predicted the collapse of New York's World Trade Center.

The church's evangelist, Mr Philip Ming, told The Straits Times yesterday that the e-mail did not originate from the church and also noted that it contained several inaccuracies.

He said that the church has been deluged with phone calls since the e-mail started circulating two weeks ago.

'Every day, we get 30 to 40 calls from people asking us if it's true,' he said. 'Many of them sound disturbed and fearful.'

Distancing the church from the e-mail, he pointed out that the e-mail was likely based on hearsay as the writer probably did not attend the talk.

While Mr Ming acknowledged that the married couple had spoken at the church, he said that they mentioned disasters in general and did not specify any dates.

Neither did they predict the destruction of the US World Trade Center.

The e-mail also listed several well-known buildings in Singapore that would be affected by the quake, but Mr Ming said that this did not tally with what the speakers said.

He said the couple, who are in their 30s, have been sharing their visions in other churches for months.

When interviewed, several people who received the e-mail said it was irresponsible for anyone to use religion to frighten the public.

IT specialist Yeo Oon Chye, 47, a Christian, said: 'Those who believe this feel it's their duty to inform others - but if things don't turn out this way, then religion as a whole will be discredited.'

Police spokesman Stanley Norbert said so far no one has made a police report on the matter.

Under the law, however, anyone who circulates rumours or statements intending to cause fear and alarm can be jailed for up to two years and fined.

According to the Meteorological Services Singapore, the Republic has not experienced any earthquakes during its history.

By Selina Lum, Copyright © 2001 Singapore Press Holdings.


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