What is asceticism?
Asceticism, pronounced a-set-e-cism, is the practice of renouncing all earthly possessions. It is most commonly seen in practice by Buddhist monks as a form of self-discipline to reflect their resolve.
What does that have to do with property and finance?
Not all possessions can be disposed of so easily. If you own a townhouse or apartment, you will usually have a commitment to pay your body corporate levy every quarter.
What happens when a monk walks away from a half-million dollar Sydney apartment?
Law Siek Hong, a Malaysian born-again monk, renounced his ownership of 72/3-5 Darley Street in Darlinghurst and disappeared leaving no trail to follow.
The body corporate spent 12 years and $60,000 tracking the monk down so that they could corner him with a bill totalling more than $280,000 for unpaid strata levies. After exhausting their Australian resources, the body corporate hired a Malaysian private investigator to track down the monk, who promptly took their money and was never heard from again. Finally, the body corporate sought a ruling from the Supreme Court allowing court papers for the sale of the apartment to be served by email.
What happened next?
On 11 November 2017, the property went under the hammer and sold for $550,000 – enough to repay the body corporate what was owed plus reimbursement for their legal costs.
The remaining amount is currently being held by the Supreme Court for Mr Hong to collect.
Currently, Mr Hong is suspected to be working charitably by assisting with preserving heritage sites in his home town of Ipoh. Perhaps the proceeds from the sale of his property could be useful in his journey to rebuilding these landmarks.