Choi Looses More Than Just His Mother
Ching's mother operated a small foreign exchange business from the lobby of a cockroach infested hotel in the centre of Johor Baru. At the end of every day she'd gleefully count up the cash and take it home to be locked in the safe buried deep in the confines of a small caged room. Several weeks later that day's takings would be carefully counted and methodically distributed with parts of it banked through various financial institutions, parts of it used as further cash for the business and the remaining distributed through the hotel's float. It was an unusual way of doing business.
For all the years Choi and I had been together he sent her close to $1000 a month. He told me it was pay back for everything his mother had done for him as a child (which seemed somehow ironic to me). She and her husband lived in a large 2 storey, 4 bedroom house in a newly gated community in Johor Baru which unfortunately still wasn't immune from daylight robberies.
It was about 10 years into our relationship that Choi's mother suddenly passed away. She had a haemorrhaging stomach ulcer and within days swiftly bled to death in her hospital bed (later Choi would tell me you never get sick in Malaysia because once you go to hospital you never come out alive). His sisters never told him about it as it occurred, it was a phone call from one of his high school buddies that alerted us, however by the time we were able to get any kind of information through a series of a dozen or more telephone calls to the hospital at which she was staying she'd passed away.
Of course I immediately arranged the flight for us to go to Johor Baru and we arrived the day she lay in state in her coffin under the carport in the front yard. Quickly one of his sisters ran towards us as we alighted from the taxi and rather than hug Choi to console him approached me directly with the instructions that I was not to sit near Choi, speak to Choi or acknowledge his family. If anyone asked me I was just a friend who came to keep him company on the plane. The process of Choi's mother laying in state continued for 5 days until her cremation. During this time many people came and left whilst all the time I wasn't even allowed to console my partner of 10 years.
Soon after the funeral the Will was read. Of course I wasn't made privy to any information until we were on the plane headed back to Sydney where Choi finally revealed the contents of the will.
Choi's mother had stated in her Will that a certain amount of cash was to be given to each sister, the house and it's contents would naturally remain with his father. Then the big shocker. Choi's mother had also stated that Choi must sell his apartment in Surry Hills and all proceeds of the sale be evenly distributed to each sister and Choi was to retain none of the money for himself. I was shocked and soon after so were all his friends when he told them.
Now keep in mind Choi's mother had no financial investment in the Surry Hills apartment. Her name did not appear anywhere on the bank loan, the property title or any other legal document related to the apartment. In fact both he and I had been paying off the bank loan during our 10 years together naturally enough even though we had never lived in it together we were still partners... a couple and that's what couples do. As far as Choi and his family were concerned I had no right to intervene on this ridiculous situation so I kept quiet.
Quite simply (and legally) it was not Choi's mother's apartment to sell, but pressured daily (and I mean every day since the funeral) by each of his sisters to sell as they were waiting for the money Choi sold the apartment within weeks.
Each of his four sisters did own their own homes at this time. Two had procured their homes through divorce and two were married with husbands. It blew my mind why they expected Choi to sell his home for their benefit. They didn't care that he would be left without his own home, all they were concerned about was the money they were to receive from it's subsequent sale. Clearly the apartment had sold for just over twice the value it was when he'd bought it 12 years earlier, but he did not retain a single dollar of it. His sisters demanded to see the actual bill of sale so they could be sure he was not short changing them when he handed over the money.
(next - Another Sister Another Ripoff)