Ah Longs say ‘no’ to businessmen seeking loans during MCO uncertainty

Loan sharks have stopped advertising their services on social media because people might not be able to pay back.

PETALING JAYA: Businesses strapped for funds have resorted to loan sharks or Ah Longs as a last resort for cash injections to keep their operations afloat, says MCA Public Services and Complaints Department (PSCD) head Michael Chong.

But, he added, the Ah Longs were turning down many of these requests.

“I was told that businesses are calling Ah Longs for money to pay business debts but the Ah Longs are being picky.

“They only want to deal with those they know and trust,” Chong told FMT, urging people not to resort to illegal money lenders no matter what the situation.

He said that for the first time, loan sharks had stopped advertising their services on social media and other platforms because they were aware of the high demand from people who might not be able to pay.

“They (Ah Longs) are smart,” Chong said.

He said several businesses had also called licensed money lenders for cash but their requests had been turned down.

“They are playing the wait-and-see game until after the MCO is over. They also don’t know how the situation is going to be once businesses open.

“If business is not badly hit, then they will give to those who can pay back,” he said.

Some of the businessmen who had called Chong said they needed money immediately and that they had previously been able to rely on Ah Longs.

“They say that in the past, if they called the loan shark today, the money would usually be in their bank account the following day. But not now,” he said.

Chong hopes banking institutions will not be “too cautious” in giving out loans as businesses need to survive.

He said there were fears that many businesses might close following the imposition of the MCO from March 18 to April 14, aimed at stopping the Covid-19 pandemic.

FMT spoke to a loan shark who said they were only lending money to those they knew.

“We cannot be giving to any Tom, Dick or Harry anymore. We will wait until the MCO is over, and see our potential clients’ earning capacity before giving loans,” he said on condition of anonymity.