JOHOR BARU: The authorities are being urged to make a concerted effort to wipe out activities by Ah Long or illegal loan sharks as they are causing problems not only with borrowers but also society at large.
Johor Baru MCA public complaints bureau chief Michael Tay said while borrowers have themselves to blame for borrowing money from the Ah Long, they should not be left on their own to solve the problem.
“Nobody in their right mind wants to borrow money from loan sharks but some have no other choice as banks will not give them loans, ’’ he said when contacted.
Tay said based on his experience handling cases related to borrowing money from Ah Long, most of the borrowers were from the low-income group, odd-job workers without fixed income and petty traders.
He said some of the borrowers had asked family and friends for help but when denied, they turned to the Ah Long as they needed money to buy necessities for their family.
“Malaysia should emulate Singapore in tackling the Ah Long menace or else it will have dire consequences on society, ’’ added Tay.
Last week, Singapore police conducted raids in a three-day operation across multiple locations in the republic and arrested 123 suspects aged between 19 and 64 for loan shark activities.
Activities for loan sharks include opening a bank account, distributing pamphlets, acting as a look-out, being a runner or acting as a harasser.
Johor Consumers Movement Association chairman Md Salleh Sadijo pointed out that the illegal loan shark activities were thriving because the police and local authorities were perceived as not being proactive.
“Look around you, there are posters, flyers and pamphlets promoting services offered by the Ah Long with contact numbers and terms of payments, ’’ he said.
Md Salleh said when a victim’s house was being vandalised and sprayed with red paint, the police were not responsive to the person’s plight.
“The community is to be blamed too for adopting a couldn’t care less attitude, especially residents in urban areas, ’’ he said.
Md Salleh said a task force against illegal loan sharks should be set up by the relevant authorities and enforcement stepped up until the menace was totally wiped out.
He said heads of the community should organise awareness activities about the perilous consequences of getting involved with illegal loan sharks to warn community members.