JOHOR BARU - Forced to turn to loan sharks to keep his business rolling due to delayed payments from a government agency, an advertising company owner is now being harassed by 12 Ah Long groups that call him as many as 100 times a day.
The 32-year-old man, who is known as Herman, said he borrowed RM64,000 (S$21,500) in total from the groups as he needed to roll funds for his business when a payment for a project for a government agency was delayed.
He claimed that the project payment of RM250,000 was only released in small amounts and had been delayed since May last year, causing him financial difficulties.
The desperate father-of-one turned to Ah Long for help when his office utilities were cut off due to outstanding payments, and to pay his suppliers and employees' salaries.
He borrowed again from other groups when he could not repay the earlier amounts and ended up with a debt of RM225,000 with interest.
"The payments (from the agency) kept getting delayed and I was forced to pawn my wife's jewellery and resell my company's assets.
"I even downsized my company and retrenched eight of my 12 staff," he said at a press conference held by Johor MCA government affairs liaison bureau chief Michael Tay yesterday.
Herman said he had so far repaid the Ah Long some RM164,000 but they were still harassing him and even called him up to 100 times a day, demanding that he settle the payments.
"My wife, who was previously a housewife, started working a month ago because our bank accounts have been wiped clean.
"I have to take sleeping pills at night because I am under a lot of emotional stress and cannot sleep at all.
"I really hope the government agency will release the remaining RM80,000 it owes me so I can pay off my debts and put an end to this misery," he said, adding that he would repay the Ah Long because they had helped him when he needed it.
Meanwhile, Tay said Herman reached out to him for help about two weeks ago, and he had since met and negotiated with the different groups of Ah Long.
"They agreed to bring down the outstanding amount from RM90,000 to RM50,000. But I urge the Ah Long to give Herman some time and stop harassing him because he really is trying hard to find money to pay off his debts," Tay said.