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KUALA LUMPUR, 29 March 2016:
The Home Ministry (KDN) is prepared to take the lead in weeding out illegal moneylenders or loan sharks in the country, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
Deputy Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said in this regard, the ministry would hold discussions with the Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) on coordinating their operations.
“KDN is responsive to the call by the Baling member of parliament and other MPs for the government to exercise political will to curb the activities of loan sharks which are still rampant despite various measures taken by the authorities.
“KDN would discuss with KPKT to enable us to take the lead in curbing the activities,” he said in reply to Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Raheem (BN-Baling) during the question and answer session.
Abdul Aziz wanted KDN to prepare a long-term plan including spearheading operations against the culprits who he said, appeared to be unperturbed by existing rules and enforcement measures.
M. Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) also supported the call and urged the government to wage an all-out war against loan sharks.
He claimed that some borrowers had resorted to crime such as theft and robbery to repay the illegal moneylenders who charged exorbitant interest rates.
Nur Jazlan said in response to the original question from V. Sivakumar (DAP-Batu Gajah) on the measures taken by the government to curb illegal moneylending activities, that prerogative power lay with KPKT.
KDN through the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) was only involved in enforcement under the Moneylenders Act 1951, he said.
He said 351 illegal moneylenders were arrested, of whom 44 were charged in court last year, while in 2014, 98 were arrested, of whom 90 were prosecuted.
Nur Jazlan said PDRM would also provide security to local authority officers while they are taking down posters and advertisements put up by loan sharks.
“We also distribute posters and brochures to educate the public on how to tell the difference between a licensed moneylender and a loan shark, and about agencies that are offering microcredit such as Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM).”
Meanwhile, the deputy minister said when met at the parliament lobby that communication technology advancement had made it more difficult for the government to totally and effectively eradicate loan shark activities.
“The culprits use applications such as WhatsApp and Wechat to promote their products making it difficult for the authorities to identify who they are.
“Police must catch the ‘frontliners’ rather than individuals who put up the posters as the latter are only getting paid to do the job and would not know who are behind the illicit operations.”
The ministry, he said, was committed to eliminating gangs and secret societies involved in illegal moneylending activities following numerous reports by the public.
“If they use force and harm the borrowers, we will take action under the existing Crime Act.”