Home News Featured News You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide




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By: Obbana Rajah

We have all heard of people who move and emigrate. But what about those who run, who abscond and flee? The following five are notorious for (but not always successful in) their quick exits.

In no order of merit;

Phey Yew Kok

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Phey was on the run for a good 35 years before deciding to surrender at the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok in 2016.

The Former NTUC chairman and ex-Member of Parliament (MP) fled the country after being charged in December of 1979 for criminal breach of trust, which included misappropriating two cheques, for a total of SGD 60,000 in 1975 while he was general secretary of the Singapore Industrial Labour Organisation.

By the time he had turned himself in, Phey managed to rack up quite the list of a total of 34 charges. Not only did these charges involve up to SGD 450,000, but also, the day he had decided to make a run for it after his first charge, he caused his two bailors to forfeit SGD 95,000 of the SGD 100,000 they put up.

Phey has been held in remand since his return to Singapore and has pled guilty to twelve of his charges.

Silviu Ionescu

After being involved in a hit-and-run in Singapore in 2009, former embassy official Silviu Ionescu falsely reported theft of his car and fled Singapore citing his diabetic condition.

Ionescu killed a 30-year old Malaysian, one of the three pedestrians he hit. With fifty witnesses who took the stand for Singapore’s inquiry, including the taxi driver who picked Ionescu up the night of the incident. The taxi driver came forth with evidence and even said that while in the taxi, Ionescu informed the police of his supposedly stolen car.

Mr Bong Hwee Haw, one of the victims, filed a civil suit against Ionescu for SGD 630,000, but was only awarded SGD 360,000 in damages by the Singapore High Court.

After refusing to come back to Singapore to face his charges, providing reasons of ill health and being wanted by Interpol for his crimes, Ionescu was found guilty of manslaughter by a Bucharest court and sentenced to three years in jail, a term which is less than half of the maximum penalty.

Francis T Seow

After a tumultuous and complicated relationship with Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, former Solicitor-General Francis Seow left for his birthplace that was America, on medical grounds.

While it remains unclear as to whether he was charged for tax evasion, the former member of the Workers’ Party was detained for just before the 1988 election. After being accused of having received political campaign finance from the United States to promote democracy in Singapore, Seow was detained without trial under the Internal Security Act for 72 days

Following this, while awaiting trial for alleged tax evasion, he left for the United States citing reasons of health and disregarded numerous court summons to return to stand trial. He sought political asylum in the United States and after becoming a Yale fellow even wrote a book about his prison experience.

Michal Vana

This former footballer escaped from Singapore in late 1994 by boat. He was one of Singapore’s top players who was well on his way to winning 1994’s Malaysia League title when he was charged for match-fixing.

Vana colluded with bookmaker Rajandren ‘Pal’ Kurusamy and made up to SGD 400,000.

In the time after his arrest, while awaiting trial, Vana supposedly fled Singapore on an Indonesian fishing boat. He even tells the incredulous story of hanging over the side of the boat as a police vessel came by.

Vana only came forth after After Abbas Saad his former teammate was fined $50,000 and was banned from football until 2009 for similar crimes.

Amos Yee

Just days following the death of Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, this 19-year old posted an expletive-laden video criticising Christians and an obscene image on his blog featuring former Prime Minister Lee and Margaret Thatcher.

He had also posted online content that was offensive to the Islamic community.

In 2016, Yee was sentenced to six weeks’ jail and a $2,000 fine in total for eight charges – two for failing to turn up at a police station and six for intending to wound the feelings of Muslims and/or Christians. This was also fifteen months after the teenager was given a prison sentence for the same crime.

Amos Yee took off from Singapore to seek asylum in the United States after serving his sentences.

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