Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time for the govt to do something about loan sharking!

The govt likes to challenge us - please be cheaper, better and faster. Please upgrade your skills. Please bear with the tide of foreigners, 'even if it's making Singapore a little uncomfortable and cramped'[MM Lee's speech to Tanjong Pagar residents]. For a govt so good at asking the people to meet its demands, I have something to ask of the govt: Please do something about the loanshark problem.



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....

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

aiyo, when it comes to money hor, money not enough!!!

so long as the state makes money from gambling people, it's ok!

this gambling problem will DEFINITELY escalate when our casinos open.

wong can't sing can't lick the problem either. do you know how many cases does an inspector handle at any one time? over 30, i say. they who pay themselves so well have no need for lots of minions who actually do work but eat into the budget.

this gahmen is a softie when it comes to dealing with crimes done by foreigners and PRs --- and loan sharks.

LOL

Anonymous said...

Loansharking and maybe suicides have increased.

However unlike street protests, these are not very obvious, unless due to bad luck, one became a mistaken victim of loansharks or witnessed a suicide.

The streets will still be peaceful, stocks and property hot and things look prosperous and OK.

And like many other negative aspects, these will most likely not affect the outcome at the next election.

By the way, do the police face staff shortage at ground level and got overwhelmed? Hunting loansharks is a time and labour consuming job.

Anonymous said...

Not likely we will see immediate action unless some houses in Bt Timah gets paint job by loan sharks. If a limping terrorist can escape from Gurkhas, what abt loan sharks?

greyfox said...

Compared to illegal betting, loan sharking caused relatively little damage to the state's revenue collection. So it is only logical that government would deploy more law enforcement resources to stamp out illegal betting so more people will give their money to Singapore Pools. The gorvernment would be more interested in eradicating illegal gambling dens than the loan sharks. Frankly, you can't do much with people who are addicted to gambling. It is not something the government can do. The new casinos will not make the problem worse or better.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should go back to the 50s where strangers dare not enter our kampongs for obvious reason.

Anonymous said...

to greyfox "Compared to illegal betting, loan sharking caused relatively little damage to the state's revenue collection"

that is so damned true. contrast the efforts police put in for stopping sale of illegal cigarettes verus loan shark activities - what laugh!!!

Anonymous said...

It seems that any social evils/ social problems (loansharking, expensive healthcare, having old folks living below the poverty line) are caused by the common folks themselves. The government has been encouraging common folks to work harder, be less picky to compete with foreign talent for jobs, houses, space on the public transport etc. Common SG folks, please be cheaper, better and faster. Please upgrade your skills.
It's never the government's problems when we have social evils, social problems etc cos they have already hired the brightest scholars to put the right policies in place.

However, when the economy booms and all goes well, it's always credit to the government officials cos they manage to magically increase the GDP growth, make the country prosperous through their magical policies cos it steers us in the right direction.. common folks contribution is not what is driving the growth engine, it's always the government policies and bright ideas, so it is only right that the government officials give themselves big paychecks, bonuses, collect a fantastic sum of pension etc..

Anonymous said...

Make plans (EXIT STRATEGY) now for your children.

For all those wanting to get married or have children, think very very carefully and make many backup plans... YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN FROM NOW ON. (once social ills become like kopi everyday and people immune to them)

Anonymous said...

Eevryday read papers only news like people jumping down from building, killings, explosions, spray acids, murders. Very chaotic world now and cummulative to perhaps a major war with people all going mad?

People everywhere are breaking up and keeping sane is now a daunting task.

Everyday on way to work see people all no happy faces. All are just enduring and hope better days will come eventually.

Hope things go back to natural composure soon... very unlikely

VforSfor said...

The Incredible Selfishness of the Old People

The Old People and the Baby Boomers in Singapore know that us post 65ers are extremely worried about the future.

We are unable to buy homes, or if we do, we are barely to meet payments, or we are stressed about our children who are under even more stress. Birthrates and marriage rates are extremely low because we don’t feel secure or confident about the future. All the old people know a lot of post-65ers want to emigrate. Many have seen their own children emigrate.

Recently I talked to some old people (60+ years). One said said “luckily my generation and the New Citizens will outnumber your generation.” (IE PAP will win)

I find that incredibly selfish.

LUCKILY?

Do the old people realize that this country needs a future?

Do they think that prices can keep rising forever without somebody suffering?

Do they think we can endure infinite stress?

Have these old people thought about leaving a country where their descendants are happy?

Have they even considered people of their generation who have fallen behind?

No! All they care about is their comfort! Oh, my home price rise, I feel wealthy, ho say liao.

The successful Old People now control all the wealth, all the property, the businesses, hold the top jobs, etc. They’re happy to have a system where social mobility is low, since they can stay longer in power and draw greater wealth (not as if they need it).

Do the Old People care about their less successful peers? Everywhere you can see seventy and eighty year old people collecting garbage, cleaning toilets, selling tissue paper.

What is the Old People’s response? Pass a law to force children to support. Oh, if no children or children are dead or cannot be found? Too bad lor, work harder hor, otherwise we replace you with a $300 per month FT.

How can you have a country where so many people are priced out and forced out to seek opportunities abroad, or who emigrate because they can’t endure anymore?

The Old People have built a very opportunistic country. Die is your own business. Social darwinism is the mantra. Compassion is a vulgarity. You leave, no big deal, we import more FT. You stay, we import more FT. You can compete with seven billion people. Top world salaries, elites give themselves. Third world salaries, peasants have to accept.

The baby boomers and Old People, what characterizes them? Mindless greed, predatory mindsets, sociopathic lack of compassion, small mindedness without vision and infinite selfishness.

Everytime they open their mouths, they talk about money: how much they could have earned in some hypothetical situation, how much they want to earn, how much they want. They, them, their pockets, their benefits.

What about society? About the people? About those who have fallen behind?

Is this attitude sustainable for a country?

Even though some of us post-65ers do pretty well, do we want to stay? Do we dare to stay? What if our kids fall behind? What if they don’t want to chase money and success, but prefer to live more meaningful lives?

Even if our parents can leave us good class bungalows, do we want our children to grow up as members of some hereditary aristocracy, partying while their countrymen starve? What kind of monsters will we have bred?

Is this Louis XIV’s monarchy, or is this a modern city state with elections and citizen participation?

VforSfor said...

country is for you to Live in, not Make a Living From And Get Out. It is for you to feel at home in. It is where your friends and family live. It is a Big Family.

It seems that years of peace have caused the ruling elites to forget that there are times when sacrifice is needed.

People will sacrifice for a place where they feel happy. They won’t sacrifice for a place where they make money.

Singapore is not about belonging. It is about making money, maximizing gain, pursuing economic growth like a religion (regardless of whether that is sustainable or ecologically sound). People in Singapore are always replaceable – the door is perpetually open.

Is it a society where people have a real heartfelt stake?

When the old people are in their 80s and all their kids have been forced abroad, who will defend this country?

Will it be the New Citizens? They came to Singapore to make money, not settle in a home. They wouldn’t dare invest their lives here anyway, since they know you will be abandoned when old. New Citizens will balik kampung.

The old people know quite well who is responsible for the high inflation, job scarcity, decrease in social mobility, social stresses, lack of a safety net, lack of transparency and accountability, the stinginess and greed of elites. But they don’t want to hold that party responsible and vote in a strong opposition.

They have had decades of chances, and they rejected a system of checks and balances everytime. They ignored political and social issues that affect us all. They refused to participate in the nation; they refused to take responsibility for decision making; they refused to support the few visionaries and daring people who stood for alternatives. They let the PAP entrench its power, violate constitutional rights, change the constitution as it saw fit.

The old people prefer stability, certainty. They pushed the looming problems with CPF and lack of social freedoms and entrenched political elites to the next generation. And they like seeing asset values rise.

How much longer can it last?

Yes, you can perpetually bring in Foreign Talents and flaunt them in the papers. You can keep showing off statistics about how many Foreigners want to pour into Singapore. But the Old People have turned Singapore into a revolving door hotel. People enter, people leave.

Good luck when there is a real crisis. Nobody is going to stay. The much vaunted Foreign Talents are going to run road. Everyone who can will leave.

You can accumulate all the wealth in the world, but you will be left with nothing if there is a crisis. Property values will plunge if a SARs-like pandemic or global recession takes place. All the foreign peasants you import will not have the purchasing power to support your precious property prices.

Selfish old people, you have driven out your children so try begging your foreign maids to take care of you. Your children will have homes and children abroad to take care of. They’re not coming back in a crisis.

greyfox said...

To VforSfor,

It is not all due to selfishness. Sometimes it is sacrifice on their part. They know it is inevitable that life in Singapore will be tougher in the future for the post-65'ers and their children. They prepare and encourage their children to leave, i.e. emigrate. They are willing to spend their later life alone and face what may come. Their properties and their savings are all they have to ensure a comfortable old age. Who does not want to have children and grandchildren by their side after decades of toiling? It is not easy for these old folks either. There are to sides to the coin.

Anonymous said...

I usually agree with your views but when it comes to gambling, it is okay if you see it as a form of entertainment and do it in moderation. Some people prefer splurging $200 on fine dining while some prefer the thrill of gambling the $200 spare cash they have.

You shouldn't discriminate gambling just because you don't desire as much pleasure from it as others.

skeptic said...

Actually, I disagree with you on this point. No one is pointing a gun to the gambler's head forcing them to gamble.

Just because some people can't control themselves doesn't mean that I should be denied the freedom to gamble.

skeptic said...

The point about gambling not loan sharks.

Anonymous said...

If I am a PR, I will save enough $$$ to buy a HDB flat. After some careful calculation, I should be able to leave Singapore and return from time to time to check on my property and collect rent. As all of you know, HDB rent is very good. Good enough for a PR to live comfortably in his homeplace. If the resale price goes up, lagi better. I can sell and retire in my country. Thank you, Singapore! : )

Anonymous said...

Totally agreed with anonymous 13:14.
A old colleague of mine from China had bought a house in eastern part of singapore many years ago.
He request to be posted to work in Shanghai, and rent out his HDB.
As such he is earning passive income in Singapore while enjoying life in his homeland. The Government is opening doors to FT for their chance to make more money out of Singapore.

LuckySingaporean said...

Skeptic,

I agree with you, people should be allowed to gamble if they choose to do so. I'm just saying that the govt should do more to educate people on the evils of gambling so they can make the right choice.

Gambling is an addiction just like drugs. At some point the gambler is incapable of controlling his actions. The family should intervene where they can to prevent the person from falling into the loan shark trap.

The problem in Singapore looks big and serious enough for more to be done.

Anonymous said...

They can ban chewing gum but cannot ban gambling. Double Standard

Anonymous said...

I personally believe that all these problems are symptons of greater underlying social problems.

While I do not really oppose gambling, I do not like the idea of setting up a counselling centre to treat hard-core addicts to justify the opening of casinos in Singapore. It just seemed not so right.

I think that having casinos are generally good for the economy of Singapore, but the question is whether the benefits of having casinos will really filter down to the people given that we have heard some stories about foreigners taking the bulk of the jobs. It would not come as a surprise that sooner or later, we are going to hear more retrenchments or justification for more foreign labour *given the track record of the decision making of the government*

I also think it is not very right to look at issues in isolation. On the whole, I feel that the present government is getting complacent. They can come up with ridiculous and unreasonable policies and they could get away with it.

The policies *some may not qualify* I can remember which I think is ridiculous*

1. Set up Gambling Addicts Counselling Centre and putting all those advertisements to tell you gambling is bad etc. It is so corny and fake that I cannot believe it. It is really insulting the intelligence of people.
2. Set up subsidy scheme for companies to accept higher quotation so that contracting companies can pay their low wages workers higher wage. I cannot understand the logic and let alone the effectiveness of the scheme.
3. ERP at night especially on CTE.
4. CPF Life Act. Enough said.
5. Law Minister can appoint lawyers without going through the current process of going through a panel.
6. Redrawing political boundaries at their whim and who can forget the GRCs.
7. I learnt that a National Pledge is just an aspiration and Constitution of a country can be bent to suit someone needs.
8. Prosecute people who borrow from loan sharks. How brilliant!
9. Temasek acts as a private investment and thus not accountable to the public. But wait a minute, Ministry of Finace is the chief shareholder which answers to ... which in turn answers to ... etc Oh, what the heck!
10. Public housing shows signs of overheating. Voila, release more land to private developers! Get the picture, private vs public! : )
11. Jobs Credit Scheme. Really question its effectiveness. IMO, almost sama sama with point no.2.
12. Raise the tax on cigarettes, which in turn raises the price, but show horror pictures of the effects of smoking. Similar to point no.1.
13. Got courtesy campaign all these years but can see MPs sniggering whenever an opposition MP makes a speech or rebuttal. What interity and character from our most esteemed and talented people. Now, I understand why Singaporeans are more and more like that... In power, must flaunt it or else how you know you are better than that someone.
14. No interest subsidy if you downgrade because the government cannot stand people making profits out of highly subsidised HDB flats. Conclusion is that ALL Singaporeans are all very evil and fleece from our most naive and compassionate government.
15. Parents Maintenance Act. Yeah, we need that. We have all become unfillial and values eroded. Thank you for telling us to take care of our parents forcefully. Insults our integrity as Singaporeans and also saying basically, we need to be told to take care of our parents.
16. GST to help the poor. I really really really believe it. : )
17. Can't seem to think anymore. Perhaps, somebody might want to add to the list... : )

Onlooker said...

All I can say is the Problem gambling is a vicious cycle. Win = lose(because of the belief that luck had changed and borrow even more to "Win" more),lose = even worst off.

One can expect it to get worse when the casino open.

This situation is yet another problem,The PAPer are sweeping under the carpet.

And the loan sharks are doing a roaring good business in these financially troubled times.

And would any body be surprised if some how people with assets are involved in such dealings?

The initial capitals have to come from somewhere.

skeptic said...

Lucky said
"I agree with you, people should be allowed to gamble if they choose to do so. I'm just saying that the govt should do more to educate people on the evils of gambling so they can make the right choice."

Agree.

greyfox said...

Anon 11/11/09 19:50,

Impressive list. Can't really disagree with it. Sure put things into perspective. Fixing half the problems listed will go a long way to make Singapore more livable for many of us.

Anonymous said...

Gambling has been around like forever. Before the opening of casinos, there was no counselling centre for hard-core gamblers. With the backlash from several groups of people about the decision to open casinos in Singapore, they then come up with all these advertisements to sort of justify or alleviate their decision to open casions.

My point is that it is so *cannot describe*. Why don't they just focus on the benefits of opening casinos and be honest enough to address the ills of it? If they have really been concerned enough about the people of Singapore, we would seen advertisements on the perils of gambling a long time ago. I have known many cases of hard-core gamblers. While I do not know the number of problem gamblers to be more or less significant ten years ago or will increase once the casinos open, it will only tell me one thing about the government; they are not compassionate about gambling as an issue and whatever dire/social consequence of the action of opening a casino will definitely not be adequately addressed.

They do not really care in the first place. So, if casinos lead to more gambling problems, do you think the goverment will do more or actually be capable to address the problem?

Conclusion is that if the gambling problems increase, we will be facing more problems and probably the government cannot do anything about it or does not bother to do anything about it because gambling issues have never been a priority in the government agenda all these years.

greyfox said...

I think with regard to gambling, the government's concern is collection of revenue in the form of tax. That's why it is willing to approve the casino licences despite misgivings from various social interest groups. The problem with of gambling addicts and loan sharks have always been there regardless of the existence of casinos in Singapore. Banning casinos in Singapore is not going to stop gambling addicts. They simply patronise the illegal gambling dens or take overnight buses to Genting. Besides there is always the Turf Club and Singapore Pools. Hardcore gambling addict will always be a part of any society. The important thing is what support system is there to help these people kick the habit or support for dependents of gambling addicts. We should not just be doing it because casinos will be operating soon.

Anonymous said...

Read this article on http://theonlinecitizen.com/2009/11/are-singaporeans-clueless-about-retirement-and-if-so-why/

This is my favourite ranting place and it is sort of related to the guy who just committed suicide which is of course linked to gambling and which of course linked to money and finance matter and which of course linked to low fertility rates, low marriage rates, suicides, teenage pregnancies due to lack of parental supervision, to your wife always looking to opportunity to upgrate to a tai tai or a very rich mistress etc

Problem with regard to the article written on the online citizen, according to my personal opinion, is not that Singaporean are clueless about retirement or complacent. It is the inherent attitude that is being bred and instil in everyone of us due to the system that the government has created.

That attitude is *what can we do? They are the government*

I believe many ordinary citizens feel inept and helpless about issues. For the low-income class, I guess you can pretty much imagine where you are probably being limited by many conditions and it is quite well-known that it is difficult to break out of the povery cycle.

So the article is probably written with regard to the lower and upper income group of people. I believe many people find it difficult to really increase their income. Do you think just by being entreprenuerial or taking that extra risk will yield more income for you? Do you think by upgrading on courses will make yourself more attractive and valuable to your bossess?

Point is that of course if you want your life to change, you have to take certain amount of risk and face the consequence. However, the unique situation in Singapore is that you cannot fail. Our situation in Singapore is such that the system does not allow you to fail or explore that radical alternatives. *Unless you are rich and have something to fall on, but of course, if you are rich, you are certainly out of the discusions that have been generated in the internet*

Of course, you can always live a life like the monks and priests. You can turn on the television and feel grateful and life is peaceful. You can also look at your leaders, chiding you for wanting an *extravagant* life that you do not deserve...because you are not talented enough. But then again, how do you measure how a life should be led? Three meals with a roof over your head or making the best of your life by having some form of control and decision making instead of feeling so helpless in the country you are living in. Some people said that quality of life is measured by having certain things, but we all know that intuitively that people in poorer countries or having less material possessions may actually be happier.

Which, finally, come to the point of...Are Singaporeans clueless about retirement? Well, if the majority thinks they cannot do anything about it, will you?

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