Monday, May 21, 2007

Of Ah longs and Needing Money


Would you borrow money from an Ah Long?
Before you answer that, cast aside all prejudices, any moral judgement and holier-than-thou-ness.
That's not to say that those who borrow money from Ah Longs are all bad people. Some certainly aren't. But I know all are desperate.

No, we would not borrow money from Ah Longs. And that's because we don't have to and because we are not desperate.
We wonder why some people, knowing full well the terrible cut-throat conditions laid down for such loans, still borrow money from these loan sharks.
Well, these are desperate people.

I used to feel so sorry for victims of Ah Longs whenever I read about them in the Malay Mail (the original MM, that is).
But the more stories I read about these victims the more I was inclined to believe that they really had themselves to blame for getting into the mess.
I thought, quite recklessly, "serves them bloody right!"
Of course, it was so easy for me to say that.
And it made my blood boil everytime I read about people being made to suffer at the vicious hands of Ah Longs because a parent, a child or a sibling had failed to repay a loan or loans.
While we can get so angry at Ah Longs, I feel that they do have the right to demand for their repayment but NOT to employ the rough & tough tactics they are notorious for, in order to get back their money.

I see it this way, Ah Longs will continue to exist because there are enough people out there who need to borrow money but are not able to get bank loans because they do not qualify i.e. they do not have any form of collateral.
I am talking about small-time businessmen, traders, as well as people who desperately need some money to repay loans or send their kids to universities.

And then, of course, you have the gambling men and women who pathologically need to borrow money to feed their habit.
As far as I am concerned they need serious treatment to quit their habit. Or a good whipping, because most often, it is their families who have to suffer.

But why is it so difficult to act against Ah Longs who use violence and threats on the innocent ones -- the families of their errant borrowers?
What recourse is there for these people if their reports to the police are not acted on?

I am writing about Ah Longs for many reasons, one of which is the story in the Star. Read here.
I know the problem is more complexed than we all care to admit. So, until and unless we identify and understand the root of the problem and work seriously to provide long-term solutions, the Ah Long problem is here to stay for a mighty long time more.

8 comments:

shanghaistephen said...

My dear,
The key word is 'more complex than we all care to admit'.
People who have their backs pressed against the wall will not able to think rationally and once into debt...its easy the second time round to borrow along A to pay along B and then along C to along D and on to the end of the alphabet, juggling from Along to Along...before long they are 'nose high into shit' and start running to MCA (Michael Chong and gang) etc...etc...maybe a study on this borrowers would help..(any psycologist wanna do a thesis...plenty of guinei-pigs available...just ask MCA )
Sad but that the real world girl...everyone wants to be on top of the food chain !

the Razzler said...

Dear KaK Ena ..

It takes two to tango!! It may sound a little harsh but for the gamblers who borrow to feed their habit .. they practically ask for it!!

But I think the authorities should sincerely look into providing assitance to those who need small loans to tide over a difficult period .. be it for their kids education, taxi/vehicle repairs, genuine small business turnover!!

Perhaps we may not eradicate the Ah Long problems but we may be heading in the right direction to reduce the unecessary sufferings of certain segments of our society.

mutalib saifuddin said...

after reading the star, firstly i think that there should be more 'stick no bills' sign..and this time, put STRICTLY on the beginning..

about the alongs, does war towards them will be a success? because most of them are highly 'invisible', i think it would be hard for them (authority) to 'catch' them. (i'm just afraid that the 'war' towards illegal use of drugs and 'Kata Tak Nak untuk Rokok' would repeat once again)

even the prepaid mobile phones being registered also giving a problem towards the MCMC to identify them. so susah.

i think banks too should 'loose up' some of the rules for the borrowing thing. Should it?

But being bankrupt is much better than being harrassed. Or even suicide. (But if for banks, i'm afraid that it would be losing out with so many unsettled debts, and they themselves will become bankrupt..haha)

Countdown to tommorow's TWB.

AHIRUDIN ATTAN said...

Ena,

Firstly, I join Mutalib in the countdown to tomorrow's TWB (pressure, pressure!).

Secondly, I won't respond to the Star article as it quotes Mr FAK. I have no confidence in whatever he says after sheetloads of his filth-talk about how he took to task some mainstream editors and his threats aimed at responsible bloggers.

Thirdly, I have no sympathy whatsoever for those who go to Ah Long. However desperate one is, it is not right to put others at risk in order to solve one's problems. And that is what those who go to Ah Long do - they put others at risk.
When I was the editor of the Malay Mail, we came across so many "sob" stories, most of which were sourced from Michael Chong. All of the "victims" of Ah Longs would place as collaterals the safety and the happiness of others close to them. A son borrowed money and forced the mother to face the Ah Long; a husband borrowed so much to give to Lim Goh Tong and put the step-daughter through hell with the Ah Longs; a husband runs off with girlfriend, leaving housewife and kids to bear the brunt of angry Ah Longs.

I am sure there are cases of really desperate good people who needed money for life-and-death situations and they resorted to Ah Longs but my reporters never came back with such a story. Could it be because if you are a responsible borrower, you would settle your loans whether you its is the Ah Long or the bank you borrow from.

Loan defaulters are everywhere. Just look at our banks' bad loans. And loan defaulters are not just the small people who gamble away their future at casinos. Big shots who drive big cars and live in big homes borrow money and refuse to repay their loans. When they don't pay, do you go after the banks?

msiaman said...

The pembesars will rarely in touch with the real world. Most of the times, it is not something to be proud of to borrow from Ah Long. But at the same time, it is also not wrong to look after one's survival falling short of begging right?

I would say if these people have a choice, they would not want to borrow from Ah Long, but if not Ah Long, who is willing to lend them money? Have anyone of us ask ourselves how often are we in a position to lend our help to our friends of relatives?

When the money making opportunities are getting scarce, Al Long is the logical choice.

Of course, there are those who borrow money for gambling, but how many of these are highlighted as statistics? Naturally, people would like to blame the bad-hat and say they deserve it. But what about those who needed a short term cover that gets out of hand? As I say again, these are not something to be proud of. Do you think they would come out to give their testimony. I would say the largest group of borrowers are small traders who Kak Ena rightly said that they do not qualify for any form of financial assistance or soft loan. But as a responsible person to one's own livelihood, should the person leech on others' help or they ought to venture to earn a living? Opening up stores need capital. How many people willing to lend money?

This is a social phenomena that will not disappear from Malaysia. If Mr FAK really working to battle Ah Long, he should look at how to assist these deserving people getting financial assistance. Has anyone gone to him for help on this and how many people has he helped? I wonder....

What A Lulu said...

other than the gamblers, there are also traders who take loans from the ahlong.

it's usually the gamblers who are unable to pay up, go into hiding, and leave their family to face the wrath of the ahlong, and eventually paying a visit to michael chong.

the ahlongs must be making some money. can't be that everyone they lend money to is a bad debtor, potential red-paint-on-yourhouse candidate.
it's the traders who borrow, usually take it as a bridging loan to tie them over a difficult period or to buy stock to sell, who makes payment. the sad fact of the matter is that they have no choice. so terpaksalah go to the ah long and pay higher rates because banks are very sticky on procedure, documentation and collateral.
and these traders are usually the ones who repay their loan. no troubles.

it's just that the bulk of sob stories come from the gambler's families that give us this impression.

but we need to think of a better option for the traders. microbanking, if done ala grameen bank [http://www.grameen-info.org/bank/cds.html] may not be able to provide sufficient funds for them. our local trader would probably require sums below RM5K.

anyone has any idea how to help the traders get out of the ah long cycle?

sorry for the long comment.

Hi&Lo said...

Must be very naive to trust Michael Chong. All along I have suspected triad controls the MCA.

zewt said...

if i remember correctly... this issue is already in the news a few months ago... was a big thing and there was also another 'fight agains ah long'.... now... again? really malayian style...