Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ah Long The Loan Sharks - The Growing Empire

As an ordinary Malaysian I wonder when all this going to stop. Look like loan sharks will stay around for long time now taking over the place of “Cheti the Shark” of yesteryear. In those days we are able to talk and even joke around with Mr. Chetiar over cups of “teh cam” at Ah Kow’s hailam coffee shop. Many at time we all have the fun of a life time, how Mr.Chetiar relating to us the problem, the procrastination and long winded excuses from those people who owed him. Mind you he did in a light jester, the real passion in being a money lender. Some with collateral and some don’t. Those who have fine and good. For those who don’t have, a bicycle will do. No intimidation, no gangster like debt collectors and of course, no fingers chopping so with red paint splashing. Only a simple comforting statement I think so then “The tree can stay, but the flowers please pay Aya”. (Please pay the interest, the principal alright - can stay) A long term earning strategy. Anyhow Mr. Chetiar is no more able to compete nowadays. The competitions are so strong nowadays where Mr. Ah Long is so aggressive with well branded marketing plan and with back up from a syndicated like Yakuza or akin of Mafia D Italio.
Okay, joke aside, the issue here is the increasing number of people with debt problems are resorting to borrowing from highly dangerous unlicensed money lenders. These ‘Loan Sharks’ initially make it seem easy to borrow the money for a short term but if the debt persists the interest required makes it both increasingly difficult to pay the debt back and makes the original problem even worse than it was at the start.
Here again, who to be blame? Those borrowers, loan sharks or the system that we all are also part of it. This is a social issue and may entail to lots of social problem to the raayat. We just cannot accept a life threatening method in collecting debt, finger chopping, kidnapping and any barbaric way of demanding. Unethical and inhuman way of collecting debt, such as keeping borrowers ATM card, bank book, IC and even pension card. What the hell is going on with the system? Why those loan sharks are so daring? Keep making headlines in the MSM without any form of concrete action or re-action from the system. Are they supposed to take care of the raayat?

I think that is being too blunt with the authority or authorities or even to the government. We cannot be putting all the blame to them. But, time has come for the government to look seriously on this issue of unlicensed money lenders and the PDRM should be more transparent and real in dealing with criminal wrong doing of those thugs employed by “Ah Long”
Money lenders must be licensed - An illegal money-lender with no license whatsoever, action must be taken before they get out of control. Ordinary Malaysian should also play their role and to those who know of any act of condoning this unlicensed money lending activity must report directly to SPRM – a well acknowledge department for corruption, where corruption is like “anai2, where big tree will be destroy if not mitigated”.
To ensure license money lender who charge extremely high rates of ‘interest’ and not following the term and condition must be penalized – revoke their license.

Those money lender found routinely using unlicensed debt collectors, employing intimidation, threatening behavior or violence to ensure the outrageously high ‘repayments’ are collected must be severely dealt with.
Since the sums of money are ‘lent’ without paperwork, victims typically have no way to keep track of repayments. Courts have heard how loan sharks left victims in absolute poverty after they collected each ‘installments’. Since it is totally illegal for them to lend money in the first place, the law says that consumers do not have to meet these repayments - but of course, loan sharks are relying on intimidation to collect their cash. Ensure those license lenders must have a black and white dealing according to term and condition by BNM.
The blatant disregard of the law where debt collectors have even taken people’s benefit books, ATM card, IC,bank books, pension book and passports to make sure their illegal demands for cash are met must be prosecuted severely-  such a Jurassic action, in this so call- soon to be high income nation.
Banks, Co-Op, and other financial institution should also shoulder some form of social responsibility, be more lenient to those who genuinely need it for a viable business venture. Especially to the ordinary small businessman, hawkers, small shop operators and others.  What we observed those lending entities are so liberal in giving loans to government servant, salaried employees and even to pensioners.
Here again I am rather confuse, economic growth  versus economic downturn which is which now, but the number of  raayat  resorting to loan sharks is reported to have increased by an alarming rate in the past 5 years. The illegal money lenders, Mr. Ah Long the loan sharks typically operate without paperwork. But while no initial credit check might seem attractive to people struggling with debts, the reality is that loan sharks do not offer simple fast loans.
Ra'ayat should never be left alone and feel under pressure to borrow from a loan shark to try to ‘manage’ existing debt problems. If the financial institution direct their problem borrowers to APKP, the government need to have an entity to take care these group of raayat. Where this entity can provide confidential advice on the safe and legal debt options settlement thus allow people to end their problem. Expert advice can protect raayat from the dangers of illegal money lenders - there are always alternative debt options.
For whatever the reason, Malaysian needs to care of each other, in good time and bad time.

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