Monday, 9 December 2013

Part 5 - The Truth About Being Gay in Sydney Australia

Another Sister Another Rip Off

Not long after Choi's mother died one of his sisters decided she was going to move to Sydney with her teenage son for a couple of years. Oh the dread I felt as this particular sister was quite the antagonist in our relationship.

The reason for her decision was because her son had just turned 16 and would be conscripted into the Singapore army which was compulsory for all boys at that age. She wanted to avoid this happening and so made her plans accordingly. Many years prior she lived in Melbourne with her now estranged husband and so had Australian residency.

This particular sister had several names. She lived comfortably in a relatively new apartment building in Singapore complete with spa, pool, gym and so forth which she received in her divorce settlement from her husband. That settlement also included a sizeable alimony equivalent to a regular working salary, the entire contents of the home and the car (although she didn't know how to drive).

On her list of demands was for Choi to find her a suitable rental apartment to live and he also had to pay for all the furniture as well. Don't forget a year earlier Choi had sold his apartment and handed over the proceeds to all his sisters not retaining a single dollar for himself as per the instructions in his mother's will. In addition each sister received $10,000 from the mother when she died. Choi of course received nothing.

The furniture had to be new (all paid for by Choi) not second hand and she'd sent him a list of all the items she expected including linen, kitchenware, television and all the furniture for each room. She made it perfectly clear that he had to do this as he is the brother and in accordance to Chinese tradition it is the brother's responsibility to do these things. He also had to arrange the lease, signed in his name and he would pay for half the rent during her stay.

You can imagine I was seething about all this, but after all these years had learnt to keep quiet as Choi's family always got first preference over me and I didn't want to create a rift between him and I over the greed of one of his sisters.

His sister arrived and this time she had yet another name she expected to be referred to as (I later found out she also had two passports). Choi had arranged a job for her at the local hair salon which was owned by Chinese and she duly took up the role, but unknown to me she had also been to Centrelink with Choi to register for unemployment (ie: single parent's payment). The salon job paid her cash and the unemployment cheques were paid directly into a back account set up under her third name. She then found out through the school that her son was also eligible to receive government money as a student because he was in his senior years in high school. This money, Austudy, was paid to senior students to aid in their purchase of text books and so on, but if a student lives away from home they could receive Abstudy which was a higher government payment based on the fact that the student lived away from home and needed assistance to pay rent. Choi's sister immediately had her son register for Abstudy falsely stating that he lived at another address which Choi signed as a witness to.

For the entire two years Choi's sister lived in Marrickville with her son Choi and I were hardly alone. She was with him every day making demands. He had to take her shopping (even though the local supermarket was a 10 minute walk from her apartment), he had to take her to Yum Cha every weekend, he had to "sign papers". What ever she wanted she would phone (oh and Choi paid for that too) and he would jump.

As I mentioned already all his sisters spoke perfect english, but of course she avoided this as much as she could accept to tell me what a terrible country Australia is, how dirty Sydney is, how racist Australia is, how bad the food is or any other negative opinion she could invent (all the while she and her son were ripping off the Australian tax payer).

By the end of the two years when she had decided she could return to Singapore without her son being conscripted into the army (which of course he was anyway) my relationship with Choi was strained. When she did leave she arranged for everything in the apartment to be sold through a second hand dealer, banked the money into a Singapore bank account and left, but not before instructing Choi that the 4 weeks bond he'd paid for the apartment had also to be placed into her bank account, which he did.

(coming up - my mother invites Choi's sister to the family bar-b-que)

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