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.