First Youth Ambassador for National Cancer Society Malaysia, shares her struggle with property purchasing and MRTA eligibility post-cancer.
Imagine finding out that you have developed a type of cancer that typically doesn’t inflict those in your age group or gender – and you happened to be an anomaly.
That was the fate suffered by the bubbly host, speaker and emcee, Choo Mei Sze.
At only 27 years old, she was diagnosed with stage 2 colorectal cancer. With no genetic history, it came quite a shock to her to be diagnosed with a type of cancer that typically inflicts males, age 40 and above.
The devastating news hit her while she was at the height of her career; her presence in the entertainment industry was blooming and she was in the midst of finalising her doctorate thesis in Developmental Psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Despite being shaken to core, Choo fought hard and with the help of her now husband and supportive family members she managed to defeat her demon and finally obtained her doctorate. However, a few years later when the couple attempted to purchase a property under her name, she learned that the battle may just be lifelong.
The MRTA horror
Her first property was a residential property in Mont Kiara – that she purchased pre-cancer. Choo wanted a place that is a potential investment and at the same time suitable for her to live in. Indeed, she made the right call; within the first two years, every time the property was available to be leased, it was snapped up immediately. “Until now I still get agents contacting me for the unit. It garnered a 6-7 % rental yield when I was renting it out then,” shares Choo.
Her nightmare began when she was in the process of purchasing her second property post-cancer, a commercial place to convert into her husband’s office. After an extensive research, they decided on a unit in 1 Mont Kiara. “At the time, the price was right and we wanted a place where there was a mall for food traffic. Hence, the location was ideal, but I did not anticipate the discrimination that was coming my way.”
As someone who lived in the public eyes, the story of her cancer ordeal quickly travelled and became known to those in the insurance and banking industry. The loan application was approved but before her MRTA could be released, Choo received a devastating news from her husband.
“He received a call from the banker, and he wanted to confirm if I had previously had cancer; and then we were told that we weren’t getting the loan because we don’t qualify for MRTA,” she lamented.
“At that moment, I felt like a burden to my husband since it’s a property for his office.”
While undergoing health check is a routine procedure, what really further upset Choo was the fact that she was still made to undergo a medical check-up despite knowing what the outcome would be.
“That was the first time I really cried, because I knew I wasn’t going to pass the test. I still went for it of course and as predicted I didn’t get the MRTA for the property and had to wait for another three months until the loan was finally dispersed.”
The burden of illnesses
It is undeniable that to most of us healthy bodied people, it almost never crossed our minds that illnesses of any sort would increase our likelihood of being discriminated and treated differently, especially when it comes to many finance related aspect of our lives. Choo’s experience was only one of many, and knowing that she will be facing this sort of difficulty for the rest of her life is distressing.
She stresses the importance of having a proper procedure in place – at least one that’s more sympathetic of the plight of those inflicted by such experience. “We don’t realise this but people with critical illnesses or viewed as high risk get discriminated.
“I was angry with the way the whole situation was handled. I believe that the bank knew that I was not going to pass the test. I should have been advised that I was not eligible to take up MRTA and have been given the choice to go without instead of making me go through all that. There should be a better policy in place or at least a proper procedure when it comes to notifying applicants of their eligibility.”
Choo’s advice on purchasing a property for high-risk buyers: