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Controversial dating app in Malaysia connects affluent men with insecure female students

Chan Eu Boon, the founder of Sugar Book, arrives at a court near Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) on February 24, 2021 (FAHMI DAUD / AFP)

In Malaysia, the Sugar Book application connects “Sugar Daddy”, that is to say more or less young but wealthy men and “Sugar Babies”, young women in search of financial peace. The app is controversial in Malaysia, so much so that its founder was arrested and then heard by a court on February 24, 2021 fordisturbance of public order.

In the sights of the authorities: a ranking of Malaysian universities with the most “Sugar Babies”, based on internal statistics of the application. Sugar Book, whose slogan is “when romance goes with your finances,” posted a shortly before Valentine’s Day.

In response to this survey, which they consider to be false, universities filed 74 complaints. Police eventually arrested the founder of Sugarbook, who faces up to two years in prison.

Sugar Book claims to have been very successful since the start of the economic crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic, in particular with precarious students, an audience targeted by the application. The services are free for students if they register with their university email address, for example.

Since the start of the pandemic, the country has more and more precarious students who must, moreover, pay significant tuition fees. Sunway University, the one with the most “Sugar Babies” on its campus according to the application, posts tuition fees of 12,200 euros and which have not fallen since the start of the pandemic.

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This case recalls ongoing legal cases in Belgium and France, where this kind of dating site has never yet been condemned. In Malaysia, the Sugarbook application protects itself by ensuring that it only connects people. And on its Youtube page, the company reminds that sex is not compulsory. At the question “do we have to have sex?”, vhere is the response of a “Sugar Baby”: “If you’re not comfortable with that, be frank. And remember, just because they pay for the restaurant doesn’t mean your body is theirs. I never have sex after a first date. I’m a conservative person, I like to take my time. If they want that, let them afford it. Buy me some handbags and I’ll think about it. “

Other observers denounce the hypocrisy of politicians who were quick to worry about the morality of female students, but who remain silent when it comes to early marriages, for example.

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