Thursday July 9, 2009
By AU YEONG HOW
The public can access information on 3,000 authorised moneylenders nationwide through E-Maps:
Electronic Money Lender and Pawnbroker System, a government portal to assist borrowers. If you need to borrow money urgently, do not take a loan from unlicensed moneylenders or Ah Long. Instead get the service from any licensed moneylender. The Housing and Local Government Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Ahmad Kabit said people can get loans from about 3,000 authorised moneylenders nationwide.
Ahmad Kabit: This will invariably prevent the Ah Long menace and educate our society and prevent people from borrowing from unscrupulous individuals. He said to facilitate the public to check on these licensed moneylenders, the ministry has a portal called E-Maps: Electronic Money Lender and Pawnbroker System to assist borrowers.
“The portal E-Maps is at our website (www.kpkt.gov.my) which was launched last month. “Through this system, the public can get information about the licensed moneylenders’ companies and their status,” he said. He said among the information available on the web are the contact numbers, license and permit number and expiry date, registered address and the company’s management staff and directors. Ahmad said the government was very concerned about the Ah Long menace and hence the ministry was duty bound to look into all issues related to license moneylenders in order to protect borrowers’ rights and interests.
To regulate the moneylender activities and effectiveness, he said the Ministry has established the Moneylenders and Pawnbrokers division to protect the interest of the borrower. Ahmad said the role of the division was to formulate policies, issue licenses to eligible moneylenders and implement rules and regulations to govern them. Among the regulations introduced are Moneylenders Act 1951 (Act 400) and Moneylenders (Control and Licensing) Regulations 2003 and Moneylenders (Compounded Offence) Regulations. Licensed moneylenders are a valid entity and registered with the ministry and the authorised moneylenders must display the original license issued by the ministry at their registered premises.
“Our society has been plagued with Ah Long issues and the problem has been a thorn in the flesh for sometime. Hence, we are urging the public not to borrow from unauthorised operators. “This will safeguard them from violent harassment that may cause harm and the loss of life,” Ahmad said.
Recently, the media reported how three men were chained, confined in a small cell and not fed adequately like the detainees in Guatanamo, Cuba or Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Harsh punishments were meted out after they were unable to pay debts amounting to RM4,000. Realising the severity of the Ah Long issue, Ahmad said the Government through the ministry advised people not to deal with Ah Long for quick money and choose other legal establishments and financial institutions.
Moneylenders and pawnbrokers come under the supervision of his ministry and people should apply for loans from banks, cooperatives and other licensed establishments. Ahmad said, the objective of setting up licensed moneylenders and pawnbrokers is part of the Government’s social obligation to help those who are in need of financial assistance. “This will invariably prevent the Ah Long menace and educate our society and prevent people from borrowing money from unscrupulous individuals,” he said.
People who borrow money from licensed moneylenders are advised to understand the guidelines and the portion in agreement so that the interest of both parties are protected. He added borrowers need not worry because they are protected under the rules and regulations of the Moneylenders Act 1951 compared to unauthorised dealers who resort to violence should the borrowers fail to settle their dues.
He said the majority of the borrowers take up Ah Long loans because they do not bother about the high interest charged should they default in payments. “This is a stark contrast with borrowers from the licensed moneylenders where the interest rates do not exceed 12% annually or one percent per month for loan with collateral. “The interest rate for loan without collateral does not exceed 18% annually or 1.5% monthly,” he said.
Besides more stringent enforcement by the Ministry’s officials, he said they have also collaborated with the police to tackle the Ah Long menance. Ahmad reiterated that the Ministry was reviewing the existing moneylending laws, especially the Moneylenders Act 1951 to make them more relevant. He said they hoped more stringent laws and punishment would be introduced to stop this illegal moneylending activity.