THE recent revelations of the operations of Ah Long is flabbergasting and brings shame to all Malaysians who cherish goodwill and kindness as their way of life. Pictures of men who were abducted and held captive by being chained like criminals is very disturbing.

These remind us of the days of slavery and it is unbelievable that Malaysians who are generally known for their friendliness and kindness can resort to such cruel acts against desperate fellow citizens.

Loan sharking has wrecked many individuals and their families. It has to be stopped before more become victims of the menace which has become a form of modern-day slavery. The problem is getting worse with borrowers having to pay extremely high interest rates and unethical modes of collection.

It is heartening to know that the Inspector-General of Police is viewing the problem seriously with his decision to go all out to hunt down and bring these culprits to task.

However, it is not enough for the police to capture and punish few cruel loan sharks each time their atrocity is highlighted in the media. What is needed is a whole-hearted, dedicated, full time and lasting commitment of the police force to fight this menace. More money, time and energy must be spent to fight crimes like this that bring about tremendous hardship to the people.

Greed and the get-rich-quickly attitude that is prevalent among us today contribute greatly to the flourishing trade of loan sharks.

In the pursuit of wealth and more wealth there is no place for compassion and empathy for fellow humans who are desperately in need.

Ironically, our materialistic system today seems to encourage such a culture where the rich and powerful are glorified, idolised and put on high pedestals regardless of how they acquired their wealth and status.

Punitive action against a few Ah Long and borrowers may deter some but will not solve the problem altogether.

What is needed is to get to the root cause of this menace and come out with a comprehensive plan that should include educating people on financial management and prudence and the disasters of excessive borrowing.

There must be deliberate attempts to bring change to the Malaysian mindset which blindly pursues material gains that can be detrimental to the well-being of society.

Poverty is a major factor that contributes to the flourishing of loan sharking. There is no way we can succeed in fighting loan sharking without a concerted effort by all parties to eradicate poverty.

It is the poor and helpless who are forced into the arms of unscrupulous loan sharks who in turn exploit them. Although the responsibility is on the government, all citizens have a role to play in eradicating poverty among fellow citizens.

The Government must look into the setting up of a loan scheme for those in dire need of financial assistance but with no fixed income to prevent them from resorting to loan sharks. The unreasonable requirements imposed by big financial institutions and unhelpful counter officers often make their applications for even a small loan almost impossible.

Loans and other financial grants must be made easily available to those who really deserve them and are eligible, without favouritism and unreasonable collateral.

Source: The  Star Online