Ex-MP Phey Yew Kok may plead guilty, says lawyer

Former MP Phey Yew Kok, who was one of Singapore's most powerful union leaders before he absconded after being charged with corruption more than 35 years ago, may plead guilty.

This was confirmed yesterday by lawyer Chen Chee Yen. Mr Chen and Senior Counsel Chelva Retnam Rajah, both from law firm Tan Rajah & Cheah, are Phey's lawyers.

Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao reported yesterday that Phey, 81, is thinking of entering a guilty plea.

He faces a total of 34 charges, mostly related to criminal breach of trust, involving more than $450,000. The charges also include fabricating evidence and absconding while on bail.

Phey spent more than three decades on the run after fleeing by train to Kuala Lumpur on New Year's Eve in 1979. By leaving Singapore, Phey jumped bail, causing his two bailors to forfeit $95,000 of the $100,000 they put up. He evaded attempts to track him down in Thailand, but gave himself up at the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok last June.

 

He has been in remand since he was brought back to Singapore.

When asked about Phey's health, Mr Chen told The Sunday Times that "he is trying to stay healthy".

As to whether his family had contacted him, Mr Chen said Phey's son had visited him.

At the age of just 35, Phey was picked to head the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), as well as the Singapore Industrial Labour Organisation (Silo) and the Pioneer Industries Employees' Union (PIEU).

Two years later, in 1972, he was elected MP for Boon Teck on a People's Action Party ticket. But after a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau probe, he was arrested and then charged on Dec 10, 1979.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 10, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-MP Phey Yew Kok may plead guilty, says lawyer'. Print Edition | Subscribe