An 88-year-old veteran was recently forced to take shelter in a veterans’ home in New Taipei City (新北市) after his dreams of being reunited and spending his old age with his long-lost relatives in China were dashed and left him penniless.
The veteran, surnamed Kao (高), had been living a self-sufficient and happy life with his girlfriend in the city’s Jhonghe District (中和) when his nephew, Kao Weixi (高偉希), a Chinese citizen, visited him in September 2011, police said on Thursday.
Police said after the visit, the 88-year-old decided to move back to his hometown in China’s Shandong Province to spend the remaining years of his life with his nephew.
In addition to transferring the ownership of his house unconditionally to his then-girlfriend, the veteran also took his NT$1.6 million (US$53,500) pension in a cash lump sum and took the money with him to China, police said.
In contrast to the joyful family life he had pictured for himself, the veteran was found stranded near the Aviation Police Office at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport earlier this month with only NT$2,000 in his pocket, after he entered the country with a Chinese tour group, police said.
Police said they later discovered that the veteran had been traveling with his nephew and contacted the latter to notify him of his uncle’s whereabouts.
However, Kao Weixi said he dropped his uncle at the airport “to honor his wish that he wanted to return to Taiwan” and that the 88-year-old “was no longer his concern,” police said, adding that the Chinese man then continued on his trip as scheduled, before returning to China without his uncle.
Police said the veteran later attempted to move back to his house in Jhonghe, only to discover that his former girlfriend had already sold the property.
With nowhere to go, he had no choice but to move into a veterans’ home in the city, police said.
When asked what happened to all his money and why he returned to Taiwan, the 88-year-old declined to comment and only said: “I have food and a room to sleep in here [at the veterans’ home], and I am happy.”
Yu Wen-yung (游文勇), director of the service division at the New Taipei City Veterans Service Department, said most veterans were kind and generous toward their long-lost Chinese relatives after they were reunited.
“However, most of their relatives are only after their money and few are truly willing to take care of them,” Yu said.