by Teo Soh Lung
In October 2018, former union chief, Phey Yew Kok completed his 5 year jail term and became a free man in Singapore.
It was in December 1979 that Phey Yew Kok, as President of NTUC was charged for criminal breach of trust of union funds. He had stolen more than $200,000.
Phey jumped bail and stayed in anonymity in Thailand for 36 years. I suspect the authority knew his whereabouts but did nothing to bring him back to Singapore for reasons best know to itself.
Soon after the death of the former Prime Minister and Senior Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew died in 2015, Phey surrendered himself to the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok. He was escorted back to Singapore to face the music. He admitted he committed the crimes and was sent to jail.
When The Straits Times interviewed him two years ago, Phey apologised for his crimes and said he hoped he would be given a second chance.
I am glad that Phey survived his jail term and looked really well in the ST report. I hope he is still alive today because I know he has another confession to make.
In 1974, as NTUC chief, Phey accused Singapore University student leader, Tan Wah Piow and 2 marine industry workers of rioting inside his union premises. He was the star witness before Judge T S Sinnathuray who believed his testimony. As a consequence, Tan was sentenced to one year’s jail while the workers served four weeks each.
Tan has consistently denied that he was at the union premises when the alleged riot took place. His witnesses testified that he was outside the building. Indeed one Straits Times journalist testified that he saw Tan outside the union premises at the time the alleged rioting took place. But the judge ignored their testimonies.
Forty six years have passed since the grave injustice had been done to Tan Wah Piow and the two workers. Tan has written several books and articles claiming his innocence. These include FRAME-UP.
When Phey went to jail in 2015, Tan also wrote to the attorney general requesting that he review his case in view of Phey’s convictions and the fact that Phey could shed light on what happened at the union premises. The attorney general declined to intervene.
Phey in his interview with the ST said that he hoped to be given a second chance. If he is alive and reading this article today, I hope he will explain why he had so grievously wronged Tan Wah Piow and the workers. It is the least he can and should do before he leaves this world to face his maker.