Phey was the key instigator behind the American Marine incident, wherein Tan Wah Piow was fixed for allegedly inciting a riot inside the premises of the Pioneer Industries Employees' Union (PIEU). It mattered not to judge TS Sinnathuray that Tan was not anywhere within the vicinity of the frame-up. When the political winds changed direction, Phey was nabbed for 4 counts of criminal breach of trust involving a total sum of $83,000, and 2 counts under the Trade Unions Act for investing $18,000 of trade-union money in a private supermarket without the approval of the minister.
Although released on bail, Phey was conveniently allowed to hang on to his passport. Even in those pre-internet days, rumours were rife about powerful friends who facilitated his flight from justice. Devan Nair actually believed in his innocence, and pressurised the CPIB to review the case. When shown the dossier compiled, Nair decided otherwise about supporting the crooked man. SR Nathan makes mention of Phey in his book as some sort of trade union protege. In his heyday, Phey was a powerful union leader credited with convincing Chinese unions to join the NTUC during the 1970s.
Mysterious sightings subsequently placed him eking out a miserable existence as a fugitive in Thailand, while others claimed he was living it up as a kingpin operating a transport company in Taiwan. Authorities are telling us Phey had simply left Singapore for Kuala Lumpur by train on Dec 31, 1979. Well, at least that's more credible than Mas Selamat bin Kastari floating across the Johore Straits on a rubber ducky.
It is not clear why Phey surrendered himself at the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok on Monday. Maybe he was seduced by the promises of the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) and goodies in the SG50 Seniors Package. Man, is he in for a surprise!
Also not clear was why, in response to media queries, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "He has been charged in court, and the law will have to take its course." Note that the media never queries the prime minister about the saga of Amos Yee.