JOHOR BARU: Chew Eight Keong may have the lucky number 'eight' in his name but he is living a life of misery, all due to loan shark debts.
The 63-year-old herbalist claimed he is now being hunted by more than 30 Ah Long or loan sharks for defaulting on a sum of RM100,000, which he has yet to settle. The debt is gradually increasing with interest.
"I can't afford to pay them. I am broke and I don't have any money left to pay off my debt," said Chew when he related his ordeal to Johor MCA Government Coordinating Affairs chairman Michael Tay at the latter's office here today.
Chew said he regretted taking money from loan sharks but because he was in financially strapped, he had nowhere else to turn to.
"I opened a herbal medicine shop three years ago but my business was not making profits. With rising overhead costs, I looked for a quick loan to maintain my business operation," he said.
At first, Chew borrowed about RM5,000 from an Ah Long where he was charged an additional RM3,000 in interest.
"When I took the loan at that time, another problem presented itself. My son needed an extensive amount of cash to settle his gambling debts," he said.
Chew borrowed another RM50,000 from Ah Long. He sold his house but he still could not settle his debts. Now the loan sharks are targeting his daughter instead.
"They harrased her by calling her phone and forced her pay up or the loansharks would come for her. I am scared for her safety and her family as well," he said, adding his daughter lodged a police report regarding the harrassment.
Meanwhile, Tay said that despite countless cases of Ah Long victims who were in misery due to intimidation due to their unpaid debts, there were people who continue to seek their services.
Tay said he has helped about 40 loan shark borrowers so far this year.
He urged those who were in financial dire straits to look for a second job instead of borrowing from moneylenders.