To help his mother pay off her gambling debts, a civil servant ended up becoming a gambling addict himself. He gambled for 17 years and lost nearly $400,000. It was only after his daughter told him, "Father, I hate you", that he came to his senses.
Mr Lin's nightmare began 21 years ago, Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday. Then, his mum ran into trouble with loan sharks. They would visit his home, splash paint, scrawl graffiti and shout.
After much effort, Mr Lin and his wife managed to pay off his mum's $30,000 debt. But a year later, she owed the loan sharks another $30,000 and this time, Mr Lin's wife refused to help.
So he borrowed money from a bank to pay off his mum's debts without his wife's knowledge.
But Mr Lin had trouble repaying the bank loan. He then secured a loan from another bank. He borrowed from eight banks in all.
At his wit's end, he recalled that when he was 12, betting on horse racing with $40 could net $600 in winnings. So, he decided to gamble to clear his debts.
This did not pay off, and even led to him owing $90,000 at one point. But Mr Lin's wife would always help him to repay his debts.
"I always thought I would get lucky in the next game but I sank deeper into trouble," he said.
Mr Lin grew up in a family of gamblers. At the age of four, his mother took him to Kim Tian Road's underground gambling dens. His home was turned into a gambling den when he was six.
"Due to the environment I was in, I came to know of chap ji kee (an illegal lottery that was commonly played until the 1970s), mahjong and various poker card games," he said.
In 2009, the money he owed stood at $250,000. His wife and friends were unable to help him. Feeling alone and helpless, he considered suicide but stopped himself at the last minute.
"After I returned home, my daughter blurted: 'Father, I hate you!' It shocked me. My daughter is precious to me and her words made me realise that her ideal family had been broken by me. I didn't want my kids to say that to me again, so I decided to quit gambling," said Mr Lin.
In 2010, he began repaying the money he owed and, with the help of One Hope Centre (6547-1011), which aids problem gamblers, he also managed to reduce the interest he owed.
Working two jobs, Mr Lin managed to pay off $250,000 of his debt. He cashed out an insurance policy for $100,000 and he would work as a cabby to supplement his pay during weekends . He did this for nine months.
During that time, his wife gave him only $300 to spend, so he did not have much to gamble with.
He now volunteers his time twice a week, counselling and helping at least 10 people to quit gambling.
He also plans to begin studying part-time to be a counsellor next year.
Even though Mr Lin was a gambling addict for 17 years, his wife always stood by him. Mrs Lin exhausted her savings to help him repay his debts and later borrowed $90,000 from her parents.
But she never gave up on her husband. "He may have loved gambling but he's still a good father. I chose this man and I would never blame anybody," she said.
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