Monday, March 19, 2007

Loan sharking,a national menace

Make financial aid available easily

It was encouraging to read that the Government is taking the problem of loan sharks rather seriously with its decision to start an aggressive year-long education and enforcement campaign to eradicate this growing menace,”Ah Long menace has reached a worrying stage, says Fu” (Star March 19).

The five-ministry committee formed to tackle this problem should seriously look the root causes of this menace and take steps to stop it at all costs. Loan sharking has wrecked many individuals and their families at the prime of life.It has to be stopped before more become victims of the menace which is a form of modern-day slavery.

Punitive action against a single party, I am afraid may not solve the problem altogether. It may deter some of the borrowers, especially the less desperate, from resorting to Ah Longs. It may not be stop those who are in dire need on monetary help.

It would also be unfair to ask those in need to go to licensed moneylenders when the latter themselves are contravening the law by resorting to unscrupulous tactics.

We must remember that it is not the rich and powerful who resort to Ah Longs but the poor and helpless in society. The unreasonable requirements imposed by big financial institutions and non-helpful counter officers often make their applications for even a meager loan almost an impossible feat.

Apart from punitive measures,education plays a vital role in the long term eradication of loan sharking. The government must educate the public on the evils of resorting to loan sharks. At the same time loans and other forms of financial grants must be made available easily to those who really deserve and are eligible, without favoritism and unreasonable collaterals.

Poverty, either absolute or relative undoubtedly, is a major cause of this evil of loan sharking that has become a national menace. There is no way we can succeed in fighting loan sharking without a concerted effort to overcome this ailment in our society.

Poverty is a social disease that transcends all ethnic boundaries.If we want to succeed in eradicating it our measures too should transcend racial and religious barriers. The government has drawn up many fine policies to eradicate poverty. What is needed are officers at all levels who are more committed to implement these policies fairly to all its citizens.


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