Tan Wah Piow one of the three defendants convicted of rioting in 1975 following a 47-day trial, has written a letter to the Attorney-General (AGE) to take all necessary steps to quash the convictions against him and two other accused in the case.
The defendants had, throughout the trial, and thereafter, maintained their innocence on the basis that the entire riot was staged by trade union officials at the instigation of Phey Yew Kok.
Phey was recently convicted of embezzlement of trade union funds and fabrication of evidence. In sentencing him, the judge had said:
“The facts reveal that Phey, like a serial criminal, systematically and with deliberation over a period of six years, perpetrated these offences. He had no qualms in trying to evade detection and had the temerity to instigate his staff to fabricate false evidence.”
“None of us were present at the so-called riot,” Mr Tan said in his letter.
Referring to the comments of the judge at Phey’s conviction, the former student activist, Tan, said, “this revelation impinges on the credibility of Phey Yew Kok as a prosecution witness in the 1974 trial:.
“This is because the trial judge, TS Sinnathuray, arrived at a guilty verdict based on the evidence of someone we now know to be a crook and a thief, and who had the capacity to exert his criminal influence over his staff,” he added.
If the judge of the case in 1974, Judge TS Sinnathuray, was aware that Phey Yew Kok had the propensity to influence trade union staff to pursue his criminal enterprise the outcome of the verdict would have been very different, Mr Tan believes.
In his letter, Mr Tan, ex-President of the University of Singapore Students’ Union, suggests that his colleagues and him from the University had exposed the lies of Phey and so had threatened his position as a trade union boss.
“It was the defence’s case that the “riot” was fabricated by Phey Yew Kok as part of his vendetta against me,” Mr Tan said. Adding, “Certainly, we were an existential threat to Phey’s criminal enterprise.”
“If Judge Sinnathuray was aware that this ‘star prosecution witness’ was someone who was “like a serial criminal”, and “had no qualms in trying to evade detection and had the temerity to instigate his staff to fabricate false evidence”, would he have disallowed my various attempts to introduce evidence which would be relevant in exposing Phey’s lies?” Mr Tan asks.
It was the Defence case that the plot to fabricate the evidence against the three defendants in the 1974 case was hatched by Phey Yew Kok following an encounter on the 23 October 1974, where he had threatened to “fix” Mr Tan.
Calling the 1974 trial one which is imprinted in the mindset of many Singaporeans as an example of gross injustice, especially those of his generation, Mr Tan asks the AG to in the light of the new evidence, “take all necessary steps to quash the convictions against each of the three defendants”.
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