TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The curious marriage between a 52-year-old director of a nursing home in Pingtung County and an 81-year-old homeless man with dementia was due to the fact he was worth about NT$40 million (US$1.43 million), according to a Liberty Times report.
In June 2016, a disheveled Chiu (邱) was found wandering the streets of Pingtung. Said to be suffering from the effects of dementia, he was not fully aware of his whereabouts and was placed in a nursing home run by a woman surnamed Mai (麥) — who sometime later took him to the local household registration office to sign their marriage papers.
The county government verified that Chiu had been a widower for many years. Although he had two sons, neither of them could look after him due to physical or mental issues.
In February 2017, the local government applied for assistance on Chiu’s behalf at Pingtung District Court. It also filed for a temporary sanction to protect the assets of the man after it was discovered he was worth NT$40 million.
Although Chiu had lived on the streets for many years, as a younger man he had been a civil servant and thrifty with his money, banking his paycheck each month and eventually accumulating millions. After the county government suspected that Mai was trying to get her hands on Chiu’s property, and considering Chiu likely had dementia, the case was reported to the local prosecutor.
However, given that Chiu was partially able to handle his affairs, it was difficult to prove that Mai had duped Chiu. In 2018, the court decided not to prosecute Mai for fraud but instead lodged a case saying the marriage was invalid.
When a local household registration staff member, surnamed Keh (葛), testified in court, he recalled the scene when Chiu and Mai turned up to register their union. Keh said that when he had asked Chiu whether he wanted to marry Mai, the octogenarian had answered in the affirmative.
Mai said she had slowly developed feelings for the old man over many years and that it was Chiu who proposed tying the knot. Ke said it had appeared that both Chiu and Mai wanted to get married at the time.
Pingtung District Court ruled the relationship was between a patient and guardian. It added that Chiu was easily influenced by Mai, and hospital staff said Chiu’s cognitive abilities had clearly deteriorated.
This meant the two parties did not share a clear consensus on the meaning of the marriage, so the court decided the marriage should be revoked. Despite the court deciding to drop charges, Pingtung’s Social Affairs Department is requesting that the authorities reconsider prosecuting Mai.
The department said it will strengthen oversight of long-term care institutions and ensure the rights of elderly citizens like Chiu to make sure they are not taken advantage of. Chiu has since been placed in another facility where he is receiving the appropriate care, according to reports.