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Mailbox: Everyone has role in fighting loan sharks

The Straits Times | Sunday, Jun 8, 2014

I support Mr Billy Lee's suggestion not to punish people who borrow from loan sharks ("Punishing borrowers not the solution"; May 26).

While some borrowers turn to loan sharks to feed their gambling habit, there are those who do so because of a genuine financial need, such as having to pay the medical bills of a sick family member.

Making borrowing a crime may discourage borrowers from reporting loan-shark harassment or coming forward to seek help. In turn, this may result in an increase in loan-shark harassment.

A better approach would be to partner family service centres and voluntary welfare organisations to educate the public on the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks.

In Britain, some primary and secondary schools include this topic in their character and citizenship syllabus. Children are also taught the difference between debt and credit, and how to manage their money wisely. The hope is that the children can share what they have learnt with their parents, who can then make better financial decisions.

Of course, parents too have a role to play in educating their children not to take part in loan-sharking activities. They can remind their children of the severity of the offences and intervene if their children display signs of involvement.

TV advertisements can serve a similar warning role. Perhaps there could be a documentary where former loan-shark borrowers talk about their experiences.

A lighter sentence should be considered for those who call the "X Ah Long" hotline ("Sentence lightened for loan shark runner who called hotline"; Oct 31, 2012).

Everyone has a role to play in fighting loan sharks.

Li Dan Yue (Ms)


This article was first published on June 06, 2014.
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