The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has removed multiple advertisements for Sugarbook, a luxury dating app owned by a Malaysian, from electronic billboards in Bangsar and Mont Kiara
Sugarbook's Malaysian founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Darren Chan, had also uploaded a set of photos showing the advertisements on his personal Facebook profile last week.
According to DBKL, the billboards, owned by Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP), advertising 'Sugar Daddy' services were obscene in nature and had failed to get the city council's prior approval
"City Hall investigations have found the advertisement structure license belonged to Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP), which appointed Out of Home as the operator," the city council said in a statement, as reported by Malaysiakini.
"The content of the Sugarbook advertisement displayed on the LED advert structure did not obtain City Hall and YWP approval. The LED operator has been informed of the content of the advert which is sensitive against the norms of Malaysian society, and that it must immediately remove the advert," the statement read.
The issue was highlighted when Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil informed DBKL after he came across one of the billboards in Bangsar
"I was told that the advertisements were removed between 7.30pm to 10pm (last night)," Fahmi was quoted as saying in a report by The Malaysian Insider (TMI).
The Lembah Pantai MP also tweeted the news report from TMI.
Meanwhile, Darren Chan has since released a statement, saying that while the company believes that the public's concern over their billboards are good, it would be unjust to have Sugarbook banned
"In light of the public's concern over our billboard, we hope you understand that we built Sugarbook to empower women by giving them a dating platform to choose freely what they want in an ideal relationship, without being scrutinised. Women empowerment is about elevating women by increasing the capacity for them to be able to choose freely. The keyword here is “choice” and Sugarbook is about providing our people that precise choice.
Sugar Babies are not illegal sex workers. They do not trade their bodies for monetary value. They are real people from all walks of life, e.g. struggling single mothers, housewives, widows, and divorcees.
While we believe the public’s intentions are good, it would be unjust to have us banned. Ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the freedoms and liberty of the Malaysian people."