UPDATE: Mr Phey has been sentenced to 60 months imprisonment today after pleading guilty to 12 charges against him.
Former Member of Parliament and union chief, Phey Yew Kok aged 81, pleaded guilty today to misappropriating more than $240,000, after being on the run for 36 years. Another 22 charges, involving $440,000, were taken into consideration in sentencing him.
Mr Phey was first charged in 1979 for criminal breach of trust involving about $80,000 and other offences under the Trades Union Act involving $17,500 and was let out on bail. But a month later, when was was required to show up for his Court hearing, he never did, causing his two bailors to forfeit $95,000 of the $100,000 they put up.
The once powerful unionist is perhaps one of the highest-level government officials brought down by the Government’s anti-corruption drive in the late 1970s. Despite being on the INTERPOL Red Notice alert, Mr Phey managed to flee to Thailand, where he disappeared and lived the next 30 years as s fugitive from the law.
Parliamentary records of 1982 show that the Worker’s Party supremo at that time, Mr J B Jeyaretnam had a fierce exchange with Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The opposition MP asked the Government to appoint a commission to look into the details surrounding the disappearance of the unionist and People’s Action Party (PAP) MP. Mr Lee however shot down the idea.
In June last year, Mr Phey eventually surrendered himself at the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok, and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) brought him back to Singapore to face outstanding charges against him.
Soon after he arrived here, Mr Phey was charged with more criminal breach of trust offences he had allegedly committed between April 1973 and June 1979; and also charges of lying to a CPIB officer and for giving false evidence.
His lawyers, Mr Chen Chee Yen and Senior Counsel Chelva Retnam Rajah, both from law firm Tan Rajah & Cheah, had in early January, indicated that Mr Phey may plead guilty to the charges against him.