Friday, 8 February 2013

Getting a Hell Banknote on Chinese New Year

An Island $tate Encircled by Loan $harks. My Loan $hark $aga Continues...

It's always heart warming to know that you're on someone's festive seasons cards mailing list. If that someone is a company/business, it's less flattering. What about if that someone operates in the Underworld?

Apparently, I'm on the mailing list of a loan shark. In this previous entry detailed my brush with the unlicensed financial lender (aka loan shark). After that incident in Jun 2009, I said I had a gut feeling I wouldn't see the end of it. Yep. I had jinxed myself (as I often do so well).

Just when I thought it's safe to go into the water, or open a letter, when I checked my letter box on Chinese New Year's Eve, I got a hell banknote (aka hell money) from a loan shark. Wow! The loan shark is pretty generous with their hell money. It's denominated at 2 billion Yuans [1]. I have never seen a 2 billion Yuan banknote before. It's quite an eye opener.

Chinese Hell banknote, Singapore
Hell banknote, issued by the Hell Bank Corporation.
(Click on image to get a larger view)
In light of this hell money, the name "Underworld" is more appropriate in Singapore (or HK) than in the West. In fact, this isn't the 1st time I received the hell banknotes from them. I received it a few months ago, and I reported to the cop.

Loan shark threatening note
On the back of the Hell banknote contains threats from the loan shark, and contact detail.
Mr. Kulasekaran's IC number had been rubbed out to protect his privacy.

2 possible scenarios went through my head why the loan shark still sending me these threatening notes.

Scenario 1
My 1st guess would be that the former tenant - Mr. Kulasekaran - still borrows money from loan shark while using his old address - my current address. I still get his mails. He could have stolen some of his own mails today from the mail box, and use it as a proof of current address to the loan shark to borrow more money.

Scenario 2
There's another explanation after looking back at my previous police statement that I filed a few months ago. It was in fact dated only a few days after the Mid-Autumn Festival.

In my previous post I mentioned above, I was mistaken for Mr. Kulasekaran. This people aren't exactly do things in the open. And so they don't exactly getting all the correct info. So when Mr. Kulasekaran moved out, he didn't exactly inform the loan shark that he had run away with their money.

Secondly, I don't think the bunch of loan shark's administrative operations are quite as efficient as those in the typical offices. Say, after one member of the loan shark realised I'm not Mr. Kulasekaran, my record is still in their mailing database. It didn't get deleted. And so on every festive seasons, another member would send their threatening seasons greetings.

So why send these seasons threatenings during festive seasons? Bear in mind that hell money are usually burnt by Chinese as a form of offering to their beloved departed. So if you want to send money to your dead ancestors or relatives who had passed away, you simply burn some money that are issued by the Hell Bank Corporation, just like the one you see above[2].

Scare tactics are the loan sharks' bag of tricks. There's no more superstitious bunch of people than gamblers (it's almost certain that Mr. Kulasekaran is a gambler to get into debt this deep. At least in the loan shark's eyes, he's a gambler. After all, the loan sharks know their client). And there's no more worse luck than receiving hell banknote during festive seasons (especially Lunar New Year). After all, these things are received by the dead. The receiver of such inauspicious gift surely feel they're jinxed.

Fortunately, I'm not a superstitious. These seasons greetings are nothing but slight annoyance to me. I could imagine any superstitious people would be quite upset when receiving this hell banknote. The loan shark would have accomplished their mission.

Having considering the 2 above scenarios, I didn't even bother to report this threatening note to the cop. Judging from my last police report about the previous Hell banknote, it isn't as if anything had been done and they have put a stop to it.

Once again, I took matter into my own hand. I called the number left on the note a few times, but nobody answers. So I sent them a text message and let them know the situation, and while I was at it, I also let them have it. Something along the line of some choice 4-letter words like 'debt', 'dead',  'hell', 'bank', 'note', and what-have-you.

Having said that, I still haven't completely ruled the possibility that the sad Mr. Kulasekaran is still a victim to his gambling habit and desperately scraping money from other loan shark using his old - my current - address (Scenario 1). In that case, if I ignore the loan shark, they will carry out something more drastic like what happened in 2009 by throwing paint at us. Or worst, get become prisoner of my own house when they locked me up. I hope they understood, and more importantly believe in what I said in the text message I sent.

I still believe that crime rate in Singapore is very low, especially serious crime. But this particular vice trade - loan shark business - however, is probably keeping 80% of the Singapore police force employed (rivalled only, probably surpassed by HK). Now that 2 casinos have opened in Singapore in 2012, I guess we can expect the loan sharks' businesses are booming (the silver lining, more employment created in the law-enforcing body, and locksmith businesses because loan sharks buy locks to imprison us, and the locksmiths coming to our rescue).

It isn't that Singapore police department is standing idly by while this is happening. In fact, because this is the most prevalent crime, it's given its due attention.

Crime Alert Notice

This crime alert notice board at my housing estate shows that they're serious about it, as well as organising neighbourhood meetings to deal with these crimes. But the problem is simply too widespread and intractable.

Don't take my words for it, just Google "Loan Shark Singapore" and you get a fairly good idea of what I'm talking about. When I talked to locals about it, either they have seen something like that, or similar thing had happened to their friends or neighbours. Everyone has a story about loan shark to tell. And even an expat like me who has no truck with any loan shark has a close, unpleasant encounter with them.

UPDATE  01.03.2013  A few weeks after I received the Hell banknote, a man in business suit knocked on my door and looking for Mr. Kulasekaran. He said he's from a financial collection agency on behalf of a bank. I told him that Mr. K had moved out over 3 years ago.

Mr. K doesn't restrict himself just borrowing money from the loan shark, but also legitimate sources. No, he's not picky, especially when he knows he doesn't have to pay it back. I had seen these suits knocked on my door some 3 years ago looking for him. But they stop coming after awhile. They knew they had to write it off.

This cycle of business suits knocking on my door, and getting Hell banknotes had resumed. I could now safely conclude that it's scenario 1 that's taking place here. He's borrowing money left and right (read legal and illegal) again.

I'm surprise that the legitimate financial companies are still lending him money. I would suspect he's black listed given his credit history. Apparently not. I understand that the loan shark don't have such a black list because these people operate in the dark. Get the irony?

[1]  2 billion Yuans is about 400 million SGD, or 320 million USD at today's currency conversion rate. On 2nd thought, I haven't come across a Hell banknote that denominated below ¥1 million (I have some familiarity with the Underworld currency). The Hell must have one hell of an inflation problem.

Ok, let be serious for a moment. The reason they print such a large denomination is that the costs to the living are the same if they print a banknote of 1,000 or 1 billion. So why not print as large a denomination as possible? If the earthly economic principle applies on earth that also operates in Hell, all this happy money printing like Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke would eventually lead to one hell of an inflation in Hell.

Since everything else in Chinese Hell seems to operate like they do on earth (e.g. the use of paper money, the government hierarchy, etc), why wouldn't their economy behaves the same?

Chinese Hell Banknotes for burnt offering to ancestors, Singapore
Chinese Hell Banknotes for burnt offering to ancestors. These are denominated at a cool 1,000,000.
There're no currency units because even if it's Chinese Hell, these are printed in Singapore.

When I was a kid, I had seen ¥1,000 denominated Hell banknote (my grandma run a shop that sell these things. I loved to visit her shop). Today, ¥1 million is lose change down there. This is yet another way where the World of the Dead is being reflected by the World of the Living. After all, the living people created this Underworld (if I'm wrong, I will be punished severely when I end up in Hell. My tongue would be pulled and attached to the ceiling for speaking such heresy. Since I type with a keyboard, my fingers would be chopped off, and chuck into a boiling oil cauldron. And I would be made to eat my deep-fried fingers while it's still sizzling hot, roasting my mouth. Fingers licking good? No, fingers chewing good. Would they mind marinate my fingers in 11 secret herbs and spices first? Yes, pretty please and with a lot of sugar on top).

With this kind of runaway inflation, there's little point in burning paper money, even if some foolishly think cash is king (soon, there's no space left on the banknotes to put all those zeros). It's much better off burning some real assets (ask any economist or astute investor). And the people do heed this advice, and these days many burn offering of hard assets like paper computers, Rolex watches, company share certificates, houses, maids, etc to offset the expensive living expenses of their ancestors in Hell.

Paper villas that come with security guard and sexy maid for burnt offering to ancestors, Singapore
Paper villas that come with security guard, friendly guard dog, a sexy maid,
and a car in the garage for burnt offering to their Chinese ancestors.
These real assets are much better to protect against hellish inflation in Hell.

Chinese burnt offering of cigarettes to the ancestors, Singapore
No more feeling guilty for buying cigarettes
for your smoking relative.
There's little chance that they will die
of lung cancer from smoking down there

Chinese burnt offering of electronic gadgets to the ancestors, Singapore
While they rely on psychic communication down there
Still, having gadgets made you look cool.
Mind you, you need to constantly burn the latest model.
We don't want a loss of face after a loss of life.

For those who are interested more in Chinese Hell can read my article about my visit to the Ten Courts of Hell.

[2]  The portrait on the Hell banknote is of course the Jade Emperor. He's very much alive unlike the dead presidents appear in the banknotes of most countries. This makes perfect sense. Dead people are printed on banknotes of the living, and living beings are printed on banknotes of the dead.

Also, apparently globalisation has also reached deep below our world, English is also being printed on the banknote in the Chinese Hell.

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  1. Replies
    1. Always a good stop-over for other Asian destinations. I did it many times before I live in Singapore.