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5 things to know about the case

BACK IN S'PORE: A 1979 photo of Phey. The former MP and NTUC chairman was charged in court on four counts of criminal breach of trust. After failing to appear in court while out on bail, a warrant for his arrest was issued.


    Jun 25, 2015

    5 things to know about the case

    1. Who is Phey Yew Kok?

    Phey was Member of Parliament for the Boon Teck Constituency from 1972 to 1980. In 1970, he was appointed president of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

    He was also elected as the general secretary of the Singapore Industrial Labour Organisation (Silo) and became general secretary of the Pioneer Industries Employees' Union (Pieu) in the same year.

    He became NTUC's chairman on May 25, 1979.

    2. What is the case about?

    In mid-1979, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau investigated Phey for malpractices in Pieu and Silo.

    On Dec 10, 1979, he was charged in court on four counts of criminal breach of trust under the Penal Code, Cap. 103.

    There were also two charges against him under the Trade Unions Act, Cap. 129, for investing trade union money in Forward Supermarket. Forward Supermarket was not among the list of approved companies which a registered trade union may invest in.

    Phey pleaded not guilty to all six charges. He was released on bail of $100,000 with two sureties. The case was then fixed for mention on Jan 7, 1980.

    He failed to appear in court and a warrant for his arrest was immediately issued against him. Interpol headquarters was alerted and an Interpol Red Notice was issued for his arrest. The Singapore Immigration Department also cancelled his passports.

    3. Were others involved in the case?

    Other than Phey, 10 people were charged for their involvement in the crimes. Nine were convicted, while one was acquitted.

    4. How much money was involved?

    At a Parliament session on March 12, 1984, acting minister for labour S. Jayakumar said that the total amount of money lost by the unions and union-related enterprises - namely Silo, Pieu and NTUC Travel Services -- between 1975 and 1979 was $704,173.93. Of the amount, $557,864.76 was recovered.

    5. Was there any information on his whereabouts?

    Investigations later revealed that Phey had left Singapore for Kuala Lumpur by train on Dec 31, 1979, and proceeded to Bangkok, where he disappeared.

    Over the years, police and the bureau have been engaging their foreign counterparts, such as the Thai authorities, for intelligence and assistance to help locate and bring back Phey.

    Even though Singapore had no extradition treaty with the Thai authorities, they had helped to raid premises where they suspected Phey to be.

    But he remained at large.