The Ministry of Education (MOE) said it is investigating claims that one of its teachers is registered as a “sugar baby” on the controversial dating website Sugarbook.
According to The Straits Times on Sunday (Dec 5), a user of the website provided MOE with the information. The user also told the English daily that the teacher had used her real name on the site and that the information matched her social media profile.
The teacher denied the allegations and has since tendered her resignation.
Sugarbook, which advertises itself as a dating site, was first launched in 2017. In line with its tagline "where romance meets finance", the site matches "sugar babies" — usually women — to presumably wealthy "sugar daddies" who typically pay for their dates and companionship.
The company insists, however, that it is not engaged in prostitution and any sexual transactions between its members are voluntary.
In 2018, then Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee stated in Parliament that the police are keeping “a close eye” on the platform. Lee also stated that the government "collectively objects” to such sites that “commoditise and devalue” relationships.
There is also concern that the company is targeting undergraduates in its promotional activities to recruit sugar babies.
The site currently waives membership fees for those who sign up using emails from an educational institution and they gain access to "premium" members if they show proof of enrolment, reported The Straits Times.
On Feb 25 this year, Sugarbook’s founder Darren Chan, 34, was arrested and charged in Malaysia for publishing a post which ranked the “Top 10 sugar baby universities in Malaysia”, The Star reported.
Chan pleaded not guilty to publishing the post with the intention to cause public fear and is currently out on bail.
In a statement released before his arrest, Chan claimed that the website had close to 13,000 registered students across 10 schools in Malaysia. He’d also described how the arrangement would be “a great help to a struggling university student" unable to afford the high cost of tuition fees.
Following his arrest, Chan told Vice in an interview that Malaysian authorities had requested for the names of its premium members, which the IT entrepreneur refused to hand over. Chan added that sugar daddies on Sugarbook included “extremely influential people in power” as well as Malaysian celebrities.
In a separate report on Sunday, The Straits Times found that while Sugarbook had stated that it is not involved in any form of prostitution, meet-ups involving intimacy were often initiated by sugar daddies, and sex was a frequent topic brought up in private messages.
While the number of Singapore-based sugar babies on the site could not be ascertained, Chan stated in a statement released last year that around 1,500 signups are from Singaporean undergraduates.