In the 1st half of this year, the number of reported loan shark harassment cases doubled to 9395[Link]. By the end of this year, the total number of reported cases will be in the ballpark of 20,000. Most cases go unreported so the actual number is very high. In a country where officers are hired to catch people for eating sweets on MRT, it is ridiculous that we have a loan sharking problem of this scale. Several comments in my previous posting pointed out that borrowers are part of the problem. Whatever it is, there is something very wrong - how did so many citizens of this 1st world country end up borrowing from loan sharks? Gambling? Desperation?
"You shouldn’t criminalize people who have no choice but to turn to the loan sharks to buy food and clothes for their families.” -Ravi Philemon[Link]
We have people who are so poor they need to borrow from loan sharks to put food on the table? If we have a small number of cases a year, perhaps we can blame it on irresponsible people who mess up their lives and need to go to loan sharks. But this problem is so widespread and systemic there are factors beyond the individual. When problem gambling and loan sharking is so widespread in the society, there are probably causes beyond individual level factors responsible. You go to a Singapore Pools outlet and they have these posters that say gamble in moderation, underage gambling is bad....shouldn't the message be gambling is bad whether you do it in moderation ...underage or not. The govt conduct very soft campaigns against gambling - you don't say taking drugs in moderation is okay. The Singapore govt hangs traffickers of soft drugs like marijuana because they believe it will lead to hard drugs like cocaine. Problem gambling starts with 'moderate' gambling. While gambling shouldn't be banned, more should be done to educate and discourage gambling.
The PAP pride itself to be an efficient govt that performs. When it comes to the loan shark problem, I don't see good performance. The problem is getting worse and many Singaporeans are adversely affected by it. Yet the best idea from our minister who is paid millions is to criminalise the victims so that they will be to afraid to go to the police[Link] - yes, that will make the stats look good and pretend the problem has gone away....