Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme

Tang Wai Hong
Year 4 Student
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (Social Work)
Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programe (CTPCLP)
Detailing the Experiences of Licensed Moneylenders and Borrowers since the Moneylenders Act 2008

I consider myself privileged to have been given the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the lives of the licensed moneylenders and their borrowers, to understand their stories from their respective perspectives. I determined in the early part of my research process to collect data in an objective fashion, to understand the experiences of both parties. As my research moved along, I noticed an interesting relationship between the borrowers and the moneylenders, of which became the key discussion point in my piece.

Key Learning Points:

  1. I broke through a psychological barrier of interviewing what some people would call perpetrators of social ills. I believe few people would have the opportunity in their academic lives to conduct interviews at an industrial building with a burly, tattooed man blowing cigarette smoke in your face. The interesting thing to note is that I initially held the assumption that these licensed moneylenders would be Mandarin-speaking. However they were eloquent in English and their discussions was mostly on operating processes.
  2. In this study, I also began to understand the flipside of the social issue. Licensed moneylenders explained their place in society as fulfilling a financial gap. They perform the function of providing non-secured loans to low-income individuals who do not have access to mainstream financial institutions.
  3. It is often assumed that licensed moneylenders are homogenous. However, in my research, I have shown that there are different groups of licensed moneylenders. Some are parasitic, and systematically exploit their customers through various schemes and referral procedures. Some have a relationship with their customers that can be described as symbiotic mutualism. Both borrowers and moneylenders are mutually dependent on one another. This is contrary to the common belief that moneylenders are often manipulative and coercive.