By Benson Ang
FOR more than 10 years, her husband borrowed from loan sharks to feed his gambling addiction.
Two years ago, he left home to get away from the loan sharks, but they continued hounding his wife and their two children.
Just last month, they struck again, splashing paint outside the family's four-room flat in Bedok.
The wife, who gave her name only as Ms Chen, lives in fear every day.
With the casino opening on Sunday, she is afraid her husband will gamble there.
But she's not taking any chances.
Last month, the 40-year-old administrative assistant got a family exclusion order (FEO) against her 41-year-old husband.
Ms Chen told The New Paper that her husband lost money betting on horse racing, 4-D and Toto and ended up borrowing money from loan sharks.
The couple, who have been married for 18years, have two children aged 9 and 15.
When the husband could not repay his debts, loan shark runners turned up at their home to hound the family.
When The New Paper visited the family's flat on Wednesday, the walls outside were patchy, as if someone had painted over it.
The doorstep was lined with white paper.
Ms Chen said she did this to make it easier for her to clean up after the loan shark runners splash paint there.
She said: "We used to live in Tampines, but he borrowed so much money there that it was impossible for us to live there anymore."
The family moved to Bedok several years ago.
But Ms Chen's husband did not change his ways and the loan sharks kept harassing the family.
To evade them, Ms Chen said her husband left home in 2008 and has been uncontactable since.
Last September, Ms Chen decided to apply for an exclusion order against her husband. She had read about the exclusion order in the newspapers.
"I don't want even more loan sharks coming after me. I've paid some of his debts but they seem never-ending," she said.
Ms Chen said it took five months for the exclusion order to be approved.
"It was not easy getting approval. The counsellors asked me so many questions about our background and why I wanted the exclusion," she said.
She attended three counselling sessions at the Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre and a hearing at the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.
The order was not approved initially as her husband did not show up for the hearing, Ms Chen said.
She had to take leave from work several times but said she did not mind as she was doing it for her children.
She added: "There are many ways to gamble. I can't stop (my husband) if he goes to the casinos in Genting Highlands and Macau."
"But at least in Singapore, I can stop it, so I don't mind the effort."
This article was first published in The New Paper.