Oddly Enough

Jobless ex-con asks for more prison time

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A jobless Taiwan man released from prison two years ago asked police to send him back so he could eat, police and local media said Tuesday, a grim sign of hard economic times on the island.

When police found the 45-year-old convicted arsonist lying on a street in a popular Taipei shopping district, he requested a return to life behind bars, nostalgic for the 10 years he had already served, the China Post newspaper reported.

Wang had also contacted police separately with his request, a spokesman said. Officers who found him bought him a boxed lunch but declined to send him back to prison, the police spokesman said.

“We advised him to keep looking for work,” he said. “I don’t know why he can’t find a job. Maybe employers think he’s not suitable or that he’s too old.”

Taiwan is in recession, with a slump in exports leading a record economic contraction in the fourth quarter of last year. Economists see more weakness through most of 2009, given falling demand for Taiwan’s electronics goods in overseas markets.

Reporting by Ralph Jennings in Taipei; Editing by Nick Macfie