VICE - Apr 5 - Sugarbook founder Darren Chan spoke about his arrest, the app's ban in Malaysia and plans going forward. Started by 34-year-old local entrepreneur Darren Chan in 2017, Sugarbook had been gaining traction among young Malaysian students, who turned to its services for easy income during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chan was arrested and charged with “inciting fear to the public” and is now awaiting trial in May.
Q: How have you been holding up?
A: I'm feeling fine. I'm handling the necessary legal stuff with my lawyers so we just have to hang in there and persevere. Our site is still accessible via VPN and that's not something we can control on our end. We've definitely seen more sign-ups coming from across Southeast Asia.
Q: How was the arrest?
A: I was in my car at my home lobby when three undercover police cars ambushed me from the front and back. I was definitely shocked but I also saw it coming. But I was treated fine. Nobody was hostile or rude.
Q: What is your view about the way Malaysian outlets have portrayed you and Sugarbook in their coverage?
A: Malaysian media outlets brand our members as prostitutes. This is not only unjust and inaccurate but it isn't right or fair. The entire episode in Malaysia has been blown out of proportion and become extremely ugly.
Q: There have been calls on social media for you to disclose the names of sugar daddies. What is your response to that?
A: We take data and privacy very seriously and will never compromise anyone's personal identity.
Q: What are your future plans going forward?
A: Most of the initial charges against Sugarbook and myself have been dropped, with only one charge against me and that is 'inciting fear to the public.' I will not fight the Malaysian government. I am definitely deliberating whether or not to exit the Malaysian market and am considering my next moves.
by Heather Chen
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