As first reported by The Sun Daily, the founder of controversial dating platform Sugarbook has been arrested. The arrest was made by the police at the Icon Residence on Persiaran Dutamas at around 4.30pm, with Darren Chan, the founder of the site, being investigated for allegedly soliciting for prostitution as well as misuse of network facilities.
This latest development comes at a time of intensified controversy for the platform and its founder. Sugarbook brands itself as a platform where “romance meets finance”, but the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) recently blocked the site for Malaysian users, with the explanation being that the site “violate(s) the National law(s)”. Meanwhile, a Deputy Minister has also called for a ban on the site after an infographic emerged discussing the top 10 “sugar baby” universities in the country.
According to Selangor police CID chief SAC Datuk Fadzil Ahmat, Sugarbook’s founder is being investigated under Section 372 (B) of the Penal Code for the solicitation of prostitution and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) for misuse of network facilities. While the first alleged offence is rather self-explanatory, Section 233 of the CMA covers any comment, request, suggestion, or communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing, or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person.
Previously, Chan defended the ethics behind the dating platform. When faced with backlash over a billboard advertisement in Bangsar back in 2019, the Sugarbook founder said that the site seeks to “empower women” with “choice”, while arguing that “Sugar Babies are not illegal sex workers. They do not trade their bodies for monetary value”.
As of now, the High Court has dismissed the prosecution’s application for remand against Chan, after he promised to give his full cooperation in the investigations. According to Bernama, investigations were initiated after the site published the (now viral) list of universities with the most students who became “sugar babies” to “sugar daddies” on the site. Included in the list was Taylor’s University, INTI, and Monash—with Sunway University topping the rankings for the most “sugar babies” on the site.
If found guilty of infringing Section 372 (B) of the Penal Code, Sugarbook’s founder can be subjected to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or with a fine, or both. For Section 233 of the CMA, guilty offenders can be fined up to RM50,000 or imprisoned up to one year, or both.