Pour some sugar on me? Nope, not in Malaysia, where despite apparently ranking third in Asia for sugar daddies, an online dating app has caught the wrong sort of attention.
With surprising haste, the very recent Sugarbook ‘scandal’ has taken a turn with the online dating platform’s founder being arrested yesterday by Selangor police.
Darren Chan, 34, originally from Penang, was arrested by police personnel at a Mont Kiara residence, as confirmed to reporters by Chief of the Selangor police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Fadzil Ahmat.
In a speedy turn of events, Darren Chan’s arrest is the latest occurrence in the high-profile (and, some contend, highly manufactured) controversy following the release of a ‘sugar daddy’ ranking index. That story made headlines,with Malaysia coming in third place in Asia, with a marvellously precise number of 42,500 daddies. However, that survey was under SeekingArrangement.com, and not related to Chan or his site.
Perhaps seeking to capitalise on the attention, the sugar daddy news was followed quickly by a top 10 university list showing which schools have the most ‘sugar babies’ in Malaysia – and that one was tied to Sugarbook.com, and quickly whipped up a firestorm of outrage.
The online dating platform was officially banned by the Malaysian government two days ago, prompting the site to change its name (one cheeky social media poster recommended ‘gulabuka.com‘), with users resorting to covert means in order to access it.
Founded in 2016, Sugarbook’s founder Darren Chan who is no stranger to controversial marketing for his company, now faces an investigation under Penal Code laws for soliciting prostitution and for publishing statements or rumours that could cause public fear or alarm. Additionally, he’s also being investigated for misusing network facilities under Section 233 of Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998.
The university list published by Sugarbook was apparently intended to reveal the sharp rise in sign-ups from students turning to ‘sugarbaby dating’ in order to help fund their education and lifestyle expenses.
In a previous statement following the list reveal, Chan said:
“The platform provides the opportunity to find economic relief during these volatile times. Dating someone who is more successful or experienced comes with its perks, and financial incentives are just one of them.”They also get to connect with high-net-worth individuals as well as pursue career advancements.”
Unfortunately, the well-expected uproar quickly followed, particularly from Sunway University, which topped the list with its students having the highest number of sugar baby profiles on the platform.
Malaysia’s deputy Minister of Religious Affairs Ahmad Marzuk Shaary called for stern action to be taken on the platform after the list was made public, to stop Malaysia’s youth from “getting involved in immoral activities.” Critics pounced, saying it was a rather eye-raising remark considering that child marriage is still technically legal (and practised) here, and that individuals who meet on Sugarbook are consenting adults seeking to engage in an adult-to-adult relationship to mutual benefit.
Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commision (MCMC) has issued a warning to users against using similar or related sites after blocking all access to Sugarbook.
Darren Chan has released a Twitter statement following his arrest:
He adds,” I’m sorry that we’re not in a position to do more at this time. We have a responsibility to help you with building modern relationships. Although we do not have any form of nudity, adult content, nor prostitution, we’ve lost the battle.”
And finally, “We believe that our Malaysian government knows what’s best for the people.”
Selangor police CID chief Ahmat informed the press that Chan will be remanded further as the investigation continues on the online dating platform.
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