Actor, gambler, now cab driver

Actor, gambler, now cab driver
Earnings from his job as a taxi driver are helping Peter Yu to service his gambling debts chalked up after his divorce from TV host Quan Yifeng.

SINGAPORE - Former Channel 8 actor Peter Yu is slowly getting back on his feet after a high-profile divorce and chalking up a $100,000 gambling debt.

At the height of his fame, Peter Yu won the Top 10 Most Popular Artistes award at the annual Star Awards in 1997. Now, he is a taxi driver earning $2,000 a month, about a quarter of what he used to draw. But Yu, 46, the ex-husband of TV host Quan Yifeng, says he is happy.

After the couple divorced in 2008, he hit rock bottom and became hooked on gambling. By 2011, he had run up a debt of more than $100,000 after partying and overspending on credit cards.

The born-again Christian is slowly re-building his life. He has sworn off gambling and is now paying off his debts from his earnings as a taxi driver.

Yu, who was with Singapore Broadcasting Corporation and Television Corporation of Singapore from 1990 to 1999 and joined the now-defunct broadcaster SPH MediaWorks from 2004 to 2005, has also re-married.

He has a two-year-old son with his wife, Ms Brenda Leow, 33, a sales executive. He also has a 15-year-old daughter with Quan. Next month, he will act in a church play about hope and prayer, his first starring role in almost 10 years. He tells SundayLife! in Mandarin:

"I'm contented. In the past, I was foolish and ignorant. But since I found religion, I know what's important - leading a good life and being a responsible father and husband."

His relationship with Quan, whom he married in 1998, was a tumultuous one, with frequent fights and alleged infidelity on his part.

After they split up, he moved to his older brother's place and fell into depression. "Back then, I was a housing agent. But I lost all interest in work and friends," he recalls.

"I'd coop myself up at home, watching videos on my laptop." Out of boredom, he betted on football online daily, frequented casinos in Malaysia and China and gambled on cruise ships.

"After my savings were depleted, I borrowed on credit cards. Eventually, the banks stopped lending me money and I couldn't afford to pay alimony to my daughter and ex-wife." Yu, who is not in contact with Quan and his daughter, last saw the girl in 2010, when she was 11. "At that point, my world was in shambles. I had lost everything and felt so useless. I missed her so much but was too ashamed to see her."

He married Ms Leow in 2011 and the couple live in a three-room HDB flat in Ang Mo Kio with their son. They met in a club in 2009.

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