IPOH: The loan shark debacle has led to countless broken family ties after borrowers were forced into hiding, leaving their family members to face harassment by the merciless Ah Long.
Most of the time the borrowers’ ageing parents or spouse would be incessantly harassed, and have no choice but to denounce their ties with the errant debtors.
Chong Yoon Foong, 73, had to publicly disown her second eldest son three years ago after he absconded without settling his debt.
Her fourth son, mechanic Lah Kam Fong, 48, said despite his mother’s public plea to the loan sharks to leave the family alone, the harassment continued for half a year.
“Those were very stressful days. We had to change our phone numbers so that the Ah Long won’t call us anymore, except mine, which I need for my business.
“During that entire period, my mum was worried and scared all the time and she couldn’t sleep well.
“Even though she had cut ties with my brother, the Ah Long would go to her house.
“They continued to extort us, especially my mum, even after she had paid around RM30,000 to RM40,000,” he said, adding that they never got to know the exact amount that was borrowed.
After a month of harassment from loan sharks, Chong was forced to disown her son durng a press conference called by Perak MCA.
The loan sharks broke open her front gate and shattered five flowerpots.
They threw flower pots at her car and motorcycle and called her incessantly, demanding that she settle her son’s debt.
Lah said his brother never came back after the announcement, although he called once or twice.
“He called me to explain that he was forced to borrow money after he was cheated.
“But I don’t care about what he has to say anymore. He has caused so much pain to our mum and he shamed our family.
“He later accused us of not wanting to help him, but enough is enough,” he said.
Although his mother lodged a police report urging the loan sharks to leave them alone, Lah lamented that police did not take action.
“The harassment only stopped because they finally realised we really did not have the capability to pay them back anymore.
“I hope the police are more efficient in nabbing loan sharks today, because they are causing a lot of social problems,” he said.
But there are people who vouched that the existence of loan sharks may not be a bad thing.
John (not his real name) said loan sharks would not be wiped out because they were needed.
The businessman, who is in his 40s and had borrowed from loan sharks before, said despite their reputation, they were “saviours” in time of need.
Last month, Perak Commercial Crime Chief Supt Lee Ewe Kiong said the number of public complaints regarding harassment and threats from loan sharks had increased.
In the first two months this year, there were 30 complaints and 10 arrests related to loan sharks. Last year, there were 194 complaints with 117 loan sharks arrested.
He said police were ready to take their next course of action on loan sharks, and would not hesitate to charge them under the Prevention of Crime Act.
Supt Lee urged the public to stop borrowing money from loan sharks, saying it could be the start of never-ending trouble.
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