Loansharks forcing defaulters to be drug mules
KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 8, 2009) : MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong expressed concern over the rising rate of international drug smuggling and credit card fraud involving loansharks today.
Chong, who is also Special Advisor to Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin, said that many young adults are forced by loansharks to be drug mules and commit other crime to repay loanshark debts.
Chong is requesting Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong to give assistance to Malaysian detainees abroad, especially in ensuring their legal rights are fulfilled.
Lee, who was also present at the press conference at Wisms MCA, said that the ministry will provide assistance to these Malaysians arrested overseas.
"We strongly advise Malaysians not to commit crimes and abide by all laws strictly," Lee added.
According to Chong, over the period of 2007 to 2009, there have been more than 29 cases of international drug smuggling and credit card frauds.
Most of the cases involving loansharks were young adults in their 20s who were forced to smuggle drugs and commit credit card fraud to pay back loans.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg as many cases go unreported. These cases were the few that were relayed to my department by concerned parents," he said.
Two of the cases involve males in their 20’s who were arrested in January 2007 in Taiwan after being forced by loansharks to smuggle ketamine into the country.
Both were sentenced to life imprisonment but the sentences were reduced to 10 year jail terms by the Taiwanese government.
Another two recent cases involve two females, 24 and 32 years old respectively, who are facing death sentences in China for smuggling ketamine into the country early this year.
Yet another case involves a 23-year-old-woman who committed credit card fraud on 30 September 2009 in Beirut, Lebanon while purchasing a Rolex watch.
After informing her mother, S.E Tay, that she was going on a holiday to Thailand, the woman went to Beirut instead with her boyfriend when the crime occurred.
She then sent a short service message (SMS) to Tay expressing that she needs RM15,000 for legal fees.
The girl is believed to have owned money to loansharks.
"I never expected it. She was such a quiet girl," said Tay.
Chong said that since the Home Ministry’s crackdown on loansharks since June, the results have been very encouraging but is yet to thwart the activity.
"More people have stopped being loansharks but the police say that the same people are returning to the job again," he said.
He added that he expects the police’s opinions to be true as the football season is about to start.
Meena L. Ramadas