By Ewen Boey | SingaporeScene – Mon, Apr 11, 2011 4:13 PM SGT
Her children tried to stop her from gambling, but she threatened to kill herself.
After a two-hour stand-off on the third day of last Chinese New Year, the children's 51-year-old mother got her way and went back to the casino.
When she returned 24 hours later, she had lost S$7,000.
It was then the children gave up trying to get their mother to quit gambling. She had already racked up debts of more than S$300,000.
Speaking to The New Paper from their four-room HDB flat in Simei, accountant Jayden Liu, 24, said, "Now, we can only pray that a miracle happens before we lose her or the roof over our heads."
He recounted that his mother cried, pleaded and lashed out at her children during that confrontation. She put a stool to the kitchen window and threatened to jump after Jayden's younger sister, Jessie, 16, angrily said that they were considering applying for a family exclusion order to the casinos.
Jayden said, "We weren't sure if she'd really do it, but we couldn't take the risk. We had lost our father (to cancer) six years ago, we didn't want to lose our mother."
Taking up a job at a convenience store last December, Jessie now works Saturdays in order to pay for her math tuition and ease her brother's burden.
She also refuses to take money from him. "He should be dating and not taking on another job after office hours and over the weekends."
Jayden now works part time in a karaoke chain, and more than half his S$3,900 take-home pay goes towards paying relatives from whom he borrowed money to clear his mother's debts.
When asked by the same paper about her children's struggle, the hawker mum said, "I really don't think it's any of their business what I do, even if the creditors come hounding. If they are so unhappy, they can always move out."
On her suicide threat, she added that it was only a threat, and she never really intended to jump.
Charles Lee, a senior counsellor at Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre, was not surprised.
"Normally, when a gambler is in a desperate situation, he will resort to emotional blackmail," he said.
Lee, who is in charge of the problem gambling counselling programme at Tanjong Pagar FSC, said that only trained and experienced counsellors can tell if a threat is real.
"While no one should take it lightly, most times, the threat could be just a threat," he said.
Lee, who has handled such cases before, advised the Liu siblings to seek professional help.