Jackpot dispute hawker tells story of hard life before riches

Madam Choo with her adopted daughters, aged 19 and 17.

The hawker who struck gold and won a jackpot dispute against Marina Bay Sands (MBS) has led a hard life before her successes today, local media reports said.

She won $416,000 but MBS had disputed the cash payout. Madam Choo Hong Eng, 58, made a complaint to the Casino Regulatory Authority and even hired a lawyer. In the end, the casino offered to settle.

When asked what prompted her to take action in the first place, she told RazorTV that she did not want to be bullied.

Madam Choo claimed that she was cheated of her money when she was younger because she was kind and gullible.

"After being fooled and cheated so many times, I've learnt. Like in the recent case with MBS, I've finally grown up," said Madam Choo.

In a conversation with local reporters, the 58-year-old revealed that she did not know who her parents were. She was abandoned at an orphanage immediately after she was born and at the age of three, she was fostered out.

At the age of 14, she started work at a factory that made wigs.

There were times when she would hurt herself whenever the machine's needle went into her finger and broke off, the tip of the needle left inside her flesh. Then she would have to use a pair of scissors to cut into her finger to remove it.

The finger would bleed and swell after that but she couldn't complain to anyone since she was underage. With her diligence, she would earn more than $1,000 a month, quite a sum in those days.

With her earnings from all her jobs, she started her vegetarian stall 26 years ago, serving up mock chicken rice and laksa.

Precisely because she came from a poor background once, Madam Choo endeavoured to help out at charities and welfare organisations, a Shin Min report said.

She said in Mandarin: 'I started my food stall when I was 32. After business got better, I began to do good deeds. I join fundraisers for about 10 over times a year to sell my chicken rice and laksa and can raise more than $10,000 in a day.'

She added: 'I believe in doing good deeds. Good also begets good, which is why I have won the jackpot prize. But you can't spend money when you're dead. Besides, I have life insurance so it's not necessary to have too much money.