Licensed moneylenders harassed

KUALA LUMPUR - Syndicates posing as non-governmental organisations are harassing licensed moneylenders on behalf of borrowers who fail to pay up.

"Our members have been getting threatening phone calls and messages," said Malaysian Punjabi Licensed Moneylenders Association president Beanat Singh Dhaliwal.

"Once, a small group claiming to be from an NGO even staged a picket in front of our office on behalf of a borrower who failed to pay up," he said. "Such incidents have been happening every other day."

Malaysian Licensed Money­lenders Association president R.C. Veeraseelan also said that his members faced similar problems, too.

"These people make it difficult for us to run our business. Our business is already bad as we are forced to compete with the illegal moneylenders or ah long," he said.

Veeraseelan said customers should understand that there was always room for negotiations.

"We are licensed moneylenders and there is no need to seek the help of a third party," he said.

MCA Public Complaints Bureau chief Datuk Seri Michael Chong, who called for a press conference on the matter yesterday, said he had received numerous complaints about these syndicates.

"They have not only been harassing licensed moneylenders but also cheating borrowers as well," he claimed.

"What they do is that they offer to be negotiators but the catch is that they (the borrowers) have to pay a membership fee of RM1,000 or RM2,000 to join the NGO," he said.

In most cases, he said the NGO would disappear after getting the membership fee.

He suggested that the Housing and Local Government Ministry made it compulsory for all money lenders to be a part of an association so that it would be easier to track the illegal ones.

The ministry should also provide information on proper conduct via the association as many licensed moneylenders were also not adhering to regulations. "And, this is creating a bad name for the business."