Public service colleagues regret Kris Kringle calamity

While the perpetrator is yet to surface, colleagues of a former Canberra public servant and Kris Kringle disaster victim have reached out to say they regret the affair.

Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu with a Kris Kringle gift that was given to him by one of his colleagues as a mean-spirited prank.
Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu with a Kris Kringle gift that was given to him by one of his colleagues as a mean-spirited prank. Photo: Melissa Adams

In mid-December, former Finance Department economist Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu revealed he was traumatised by a 2012 Christmas Kris Kringle gift of a plastic reindeer that he felt implied his economic modelling work was worth as much as animal poo.

"When you press its tail it gives you a chocolate dropping, and a play dough with handwritten words 'Luan's modelling kit'," the economist said at the time.

He said he felt heartbroken by the gift and was left sleepless and hurt before taking a redundancy in June 2013.

Now, Mr Ngoc says he has gained some form of comfort ahead of Christmas by new messages from old colleagues who say they are sorry he was so offended by the secret Santa fiasco.


"They gave me comforting words and stood by my story and some of them said I should settle it in court," he said.

"They said sorry and that the story in The Canberra Times was enlightening."

But Mr Ngoc said he did not intend to take legal action and he simply hoped his sad tale would serve as a warning to other workplaces,

"My intention is just like if you walk down the footpath and see broken glass, you just pick it up and put it in the bin so people don't step on it," he said.

He believed there were many more victims of wayward Christmas pranks out there.

"I think there are many people like me very sensitive and don't take these jokes so easily, especially at Christmas time," Mr Ngoc said.

Another female public sector worker also said the exercise did not always translate to fun for those who already felt excluded at work.

"I am the only Asian person in my area," she said. "I faced similar upset [to Mr Ngoc's] - a present from Secret Santa - telling me [that my] English is terrible."