Malaysian 'sugar daddy' website boss charged after outcry

Sugarbook founder Chan Eu Boon was charged with intention to cause fear. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Sugarbook founder Chan Eu Boon was charged with intention to cause fear. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SHAH ALAM • The head of a controversial Malaysian "sugar daddy" dating website was charged yesterday with causing public alarm after his claims that university students were using the service sparked an outcry.

The website's founder, Chan Eu Boon, was charged in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, with intention to cause fear for allegedly publishing a post titled "Top 10 Sugar Baby Universities in Malaysia" on the TechNave.com website.

The 34-year-old was arrested at a condominium in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, on Feb 17.

He pleaded not guilty yesterday, with his lawyer saying Chan's site, Sugarbook.com, had been blocked by Malaysian regulators, meaning the negative effects of his claims about students had been "minimised already".

Sugarbook bills itself as a site "where romance meets finance" and aims to link up older men with younger women, with the men expected to provide financial support to their companions.

But it sparked an uproar after releasing statistics purportedly showing thousands of students were using it to make money in the socially conservative, Muslim-majority country.

The court fixed Chan's bail at RM10,000 (S$3,270) in one surety and ordered the accused, who is also known by his English name Darren Chan, to surrender his passport to the court. He faces up to two years in jail if convicted.

The case is fixed for mention on March 26.

Founded in 2016, Sugarbook has since expanded to countries including Singapore, Thailand and the United States.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission blocked access to the website on Feb 15 for allegedly breaching the law on the use of network facilities or services.

However, Sugarbook's developer then set up an alternative site to enable its users to access the blocked webpage, and it is still available via some Internet providers.

Malaysia's Muslim citizens, who make up more than half of its 32 million population, are banned under Islamic law from having sex outside marriage.

The multi-ethnic country has a dual-track legal system, with Muslims subject to syariah laws in certain areas.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2021, with the headline 'Malaysian 'sugar daddy' website boss charged after outcry'. Subscribe