LOCAL authorities are fighting a losing battle with illegal advertisements put up by loan sharks (Ah Long).
As soon as the unsightly posters are removed by enforcement personnel, they are plastered on again, sometimes on the same day.
Their current favourite spots are light rail transit (LRT) and mass rapid transit (MRT) pillars.
Other popular spots include lamp posts, traffic lights, road signs, information boards, public phone booths and walls of buildings.
Ah Long stickers are widely seen at LRT pillars in Subang Jaya, Puchong, Petaling Jaya, Bandar Kinrara, Kelana Jaya and Kota Damansara, especially around the Bandar Puteri Puchong and Bandar Kinrara stations.
MRT pillars at Persiaran Surian in Kota Damansara have also been turned into free advertising space by the loan sharks.
Besides being a distraction to motorists, the indiscriminately placed stickers are unsightly and difficult to remove.
Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said it was common for enforcement personnel to see stickers back at the same spot by nightfall after they removed them earlier.
He said 61,044 illegal posters, banners and bunting have been removed from various parts of the city from Jan 1 to July 31 this year.
“Most of the illegal advertisements were by loan sharks,” said Mohd Azizi.
He added that the council sought the assistance of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to bar the phone numbers listed in such advertisements.
However, he said, the Ah Long are just as adept at getting new handphone numbers.
“I was informed that these mobile numbers are used to screen the callers and the genuine prospects will be contacted from a different line.
“We have also caught individuals putting up stickers and have fined them. But they are just the ‘small fish’ hired to paste the stickers,” said Mohd Azizi, adding that legislation was needed to put a stop to Ah Long activities.
It is the same story for areas under the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ).
The council’s deputy corporate communications director Azfarizal Abdul Rashid said although the MRT and LRT pillars were under the jurisdiction of Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, MPSJ's enforcement personnel would still remove the illegal advertisements.
“There are fewer Ah Long stickers on road signs within our jurisdiction as our contractors have been doing a good job in removing them,” he said.
StarMetro made random calls to some of the contact numbers and were shocked to find that some of the loan sharks are licensed money lenders violating their licensing conditions by charging exorbitant interest.
Although licensed moneylenders are only allowed to charge 2% interest, they were charging between 10% and 25% monthly.
Their modus operandi is to add an additional 10% to 15% on the amount borrowed as an administration fee.
The amount will be deducted up front from the principal before the rest of the cash is handed over to the borrower.
For example, for a RM5,000 loan, they will only give RM4,500, after deducting 10% or RM500 as administration fee.
However, the borrower will be required to sign documents stating that he has borrowed RM10,000.
The loan sharks claim this is a form of insurance to protect themselves from being cheated by the borrower.
“If you run away than I can use this document to recover my money with interest,” said a runner who wished to be known as John.
Even loan sharks screen the background of the borrower before approving a loan.
John said loans would only be offered to those with a steady job and they must be supported with three months of payslips and a copy of the borrower’s identity card.
“Businessmen can obtain loans with collateral such as land or property,” he said
Prior to handing over the cash, John said borrowers’ ATM cards would be kept by the loan sharks so that the monthly instalments could be withdrawn on the said date without hassle.
He said the borrower’s personal identification number would also be obtained by the Ah Long prior to the disbursement of cash.
“He will be allowed to have the card for a few minutes to withdraw any remaining money after we have taken out the monthly instalment.
“This process will continue monthly until he has settled the full amount,” said John.
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