Following public outrage and complaints by conservative politicians, Malaysian police have arrested the founder of hugely popular dating platform Sugarbook, accusing him of soliciting prostitution.
Local entrepreneur and Sugarbook founder Darren Chan marketed the site as a “safe and discreet environment” for sugar dating, which attracted Malaysians looking for alternative sources of income during the coronavirus pandemic.
But the unconventional form of dating, which helps link so-called sugar babies and higher-income sugar daddies and mommies, sparked anger after reports suggest a high number of university students were signing up to the app. These relationships and arrangements can involve money, gifts or other incentives in exchange for time and companionship. Sex may or may not be part of the deal.
A separate survey revealed that Malaysia was home to 42,500 registered sugar daddies—the third-highest figure in Asia after India (338,000) and Indonesia (60,250).
Conservative politicians in the predominantly Muslim country lodged official complaints and called successfully for the site and its mobile app to be blocked.
Selangor state police chief Fadzil Ahmat confirmed the arrest of the 34-year-old Chan.
“He was arrested in a condominium compound at around 4.30pm on Wednesday,” he said in a statement issued on Thursday. "He will be brought to court today for remand.”
Sugarbook did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But representatives previously told VICE World News that they respected the decision to restrict access to the site and were taking measures to ensure the ban did not happen in other countries.
Access to Sugarbook remains blocked in Malaysia but is reachable via VPN.