Mon, Mar 18, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Lottery winners want their jobs back

CNA , TAIPEI

Winning the top lotto prize does not seem to guarantee happiness, at least not for the Thai couple who worked at a Yangmei-based textile factory before winning the jackpot and developing dreams of living happily ever after on their own island in Thailand.

According to a newspaper report Sunday, the Makons (not their real surname), who hit double victory in Taiwan's computerized lottery in February awinning NT$51 million, recently secretly asked their former employers to allow them to return to Taiwan to work because they have been "too distressed to be back home" since last month.

Yin Yen-liang,(尹衍樑) chairman and CEO of Ruentex Corp., confirmed Saturday that the former Thai employees indeed expressed a keen desire to return to Taiwan, a country they described as "a place that allowed them to turn from rags to riches and that now entails less trouble for them," the news report said.

The married Thai couple, who have two children, had worked at one of the Ruentex Corp.'s textile factories as contract laborers for two years before winning the jackpot in the Feb. 8 drawing of the lottery. Their luck didn't stop there as they also won the second prize in the same day's computerized lotto.

They had purchased five NT$50 lottery tickets for the drawing. According to sources at the factory where they worked, when the winning numbers were drawn, the couple was working the night shift. Upon hearing that they had won, they went wild, shouting and hugging the other Thai workers. They also said that they would give the other workers NT$10,000 each. But by dawn of the next day, they had disappeared.

The Makons, both from a poor backwater in Thailand, whose jackpot and second prize winnings after taxes totaled more than 40 million Thai baht, returned to their homeland around mid-February with dreams of living out their lives in happiness, including plans to purchase their own island in Thailand. But their dreams would run into problems.

After the great sensation that the Makons caused in Thailand with their lottery wins, the first problem arose with the appearance of Makon's first wife, whom according to Makon, "has an insatiable appetite for money." Nobody in Taiwan knew that he had remarried until news of the lottery wins broke.

Then came the swarming relatives, media and even monks, all of which made the couple afraid of heading back home to Makon's old home where his mother still dwells.

"I never imagined that life could be so troubling," Makon said.

Although they now have more than US$1 million to their name, the Makons want to return to Taiwan to be "plain" workers again, he said.

According to legal officials from the Cabinet-level Council of Labor Affairs (CLA), the chances of the Makons returning to Ruentex to work are not zero if the couple have not yet filed for termination of their work contracts with the company. CLA officials said the couple have not registered for a permanent leave from Taiwan. Their last exit records show that the couple left Taiwan last month to visit relatives on a short-term basis.

CLA officials said that if Ruentex agrees, the Makons can continue to work at the factory for another three years according to the terms of their contracts.

According to newspaper reporters, who also interviewed Ruentex officials, the Thai couple before departing Taiwan suspended their work contracts with the company and paid Ruentex management some NT$20,000 (US$571) in order to terminate their contracts.

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