Sunday, 31 May 2009

Ah Long oh Along.....


In temperament, torture will be an understatement and perhaps I will start cutting people who owed me money too but fortunately, I was raised with my father’s strong principle that forbid me to borrow money (from anybody including relatives or siblings) as well as forbid me to lend (whatever the amount). I was almost beaten up when my father discovered I borrow RM1 from a friend during primary school. Similarly, I can still hear my father’s scream when he discovered I lend money to a best friend during high school. When he was sober from screaming, he rationalized and told me, if I ever had extra savings and if anybody was in need, then I should just give whatever amount that i can afford to help (without expecting him to pay back) but i should never lend (or borrow!). Money can break family or any friendship, my father reminded. This principle had distant a few friends whom were not able to accept but it kept many other friends closer to me. As a result, I had to work akin of Bangla worker as a cleaner at Tesco during my undergraduate studies in England when the STR291 MARA scholarship per month can only feed me for 2 weeks (after paying STR240 for rental). I never borrowed money from friends and I was too embarrassed to ask money from my parent.


Ah long or previously, popularly known as CETI in business is as old as prostitution, drugs and corruption that existed even before Malaysia was proclaimed Merdeka. Various attempts had been launched by the government to eradicate the vice. Millions were spend on aggressive Anti-Drug, Anti Corruption campaign to educate the public and destroy the vice network with the involvement of federal & state government machineries, Ministry of Home Affair, police and various governmental department and organisations as well as NGOs.


Despite the effort and the endless campaigns, the industry of prostitution, drugs and corruption are still rampant and growing at a faster rate compared to other sectors in Malaysia. There had never been an Anti-Ah long campaign launched although that too would have been futile given our track record spending millions of tax payer’s money without success. However, unlike other vices, the Moneylenders Act 1951 (Amendment 2003) was introduced instead to legalize the Ah long’s activities. There was a debate if drugs and prostitution too should be legalized similar to Amsterdam but of course, the majority opposed on moral ground.


All the vices; prostitutions, drugs, corruptions and ah long share similar endless demand and will continue to grow albeit any recessions or downturn. It is not easy to curb, let alone eradicate corruptions, drugs and prostitutions. Ah long rides and grow on our stringent banking system for loan approval especially with the ever-increasing bankrupt population and stringent access to legal money resources. Public who were blacklisted because of 3x bounced cheque issuance are also blacklisted from legal means of borrowings. Of course, gambling activities too provide avenues and additional market for the Ah long.


During recession, our current economy is a good example, even the Bank’s non-performing loan (NPL) rate had increased and bank became more stringent with new loan approval. Generalising from the 60% rejection for new hire-purchase loan submission (which was otherwise amongst the easiest loan for approval), we can only imagine the general public’s burden with getting their loan approved without collateral or with a poor historical financial track record. Banks now exercise a credit worthiness points (or risk scoring point) and automatically reject loans that failed the credit risk scoring. The more loans rejected, the bigger the market population for the Ah Long. Banks are stringent because of the KPI introduced by our Bank Negara.


Unlike Banks that can write-off their bad debts (at the expense of their managers losing the annual bonus) or their provision for bad debts and uncollected debts, Ah long are less forgiving. I have also seen friends who beat up their siblings for money owed. Naturally, as a figure of speech, I too would start cutting people who owed me money. The truth is, we, created this Ah Long by easily bankrupting our own people (including the guarantors), creating various stringent requirements for loan applications and especially by legalising the Ah long’s activities. The recent exposed ‘prison’ and torture (see: Star) by Ah long to those who cannot re-pay their debts is inhuman but who is there to supervise and monitor the Ah long's NPL and guarantee their bad debts? Or act as the white knight to salvage them from bankruptcy similar to ailing banks during 1998 recessions.


Bank Negara KPI to banks, Gambling Act, The Bankruptcy Act, The Moneylenders Act and the Guarantors Act should all be reviewed. There must be a second life for bankrupt population. Being blacklisted by banks and a bankrupt is a life-imprisonment and is as inhuman as the torture by Ahlong. In fact, it created the market for Ahlong. Ah Long should be illegalised, completely eradicated and live as Ceti with umbrella collecting debts in P. Ramlee movies. With the review of the respective statutory acts, Banks will be less prejudice and friendlier. If we do not help the unfortunate people in this segment, who will? ……..Micheal Chong alone?



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