Thanks to two sets of "data" shared by platforms offering sugar-ing services (i.e. sites where those interested in getting into sugar daddy/mummy - sugar baby relationships can meet), the topic has been much discussed online.
To see what Malaysians really think about the whole sugar daddy-sugar baby lifestyle, We got in touch with some Rojak Daily
readers and their friends to see what Malaysians think about the topic and here's what they had to say.
*Names of the contributors have been changed to protect their privacy.
"Sex workers are not the problem"
Gabrielle* is of the opinion that sex work should not be stigmatised.
"All this uproar about sugar babies when sanctimonious sheep brainwashed by religious and cultural constructs created by overwhelmingly patriarchal, misogynistic societies completely miss what's truly problematic.
"If the selling of sex, especially by women wasn't so stigmatised and they were afforded the same regard and protection as waiters or accountants - sex workers wouldn't be at constant risk of exploitation and abuse, on top of getting constantly spat on in the court of public opinion," she said.
She added that sex work is never going to go away.
"Sex workers are not the problem. Judgemental jacka**es who jerk off to porn then write 'no prossies/sluts pls' on their tinder profiles are the problem".
Concentrate on more important issues, please
Public Relation practitioner Amy* shared a similar view, saying that child marriage is a bigger issue that should be looked at and not the whole Sugarbook issue.
"Sugar babying has been around for a long time. It’s just there’s now technology and a platform to connect the sugar babies with sugar mommies / daddies.
"In my opinion, it should be allowed between consenting adults. Should it be banned, then how about marriages where the age gap between the partners are 10-20 years apart. It will be hard to justify their relationship.
"The more important issue is perhaps child marriages. That
should be banned," she said.
It promotes materialisme
Media practitioner Chia* is against this type of "business transaction" because it promotes being materialistic and superficial just to fit in with a certain kind of lifestyle projected by peers that they (sugar babies) perceive is better.
"Having said that, they’re all adults. If they entered this relationship after making an informed decision and they’re confident that they can look back five to ten years from now with absolutely no regrets, then it’s their own choice," said the 30-year-old.
Chia also do not agree with the way companies like Sugarbook promotes the "career", and is skeptical about claims that the transactions do not involve sex.
"I think solely for the fact that they promote and advertise to students is unethical. You’re basically asking them to sell their faces and/or bodies for money, when they should be taking this time to hone their skills and solidify their place in society.
"They claim that it's non-sexual, but come on lah... your sugar daddy is mid 30s to early 40s, dating a young, hot girl but keep it non-sexual? Who are you kidding?" Chia said.
'Sugarbook' should be banned
Environmental activist Aisyah* said that the issue is quite tricky but she believes platforms like Sugarbook should be shut down.
"There are power dynamics at play between sugar baby-sugar daddy/mommy, safety and legal concerns (e.g. sex trafficking, prostitution).
"For me, I think it was a good thing to shut down the platform, because it profited off of connecting sugar babies and sugar daddies/mommies, but (as far as I know) did nothing to protect them or ensure their safety," she opined.
However, Aisyah was also unhappy with the government's swift action against the platform when it seems to drag its feet about more important issues.
"It's also annoying how the government can get their sh*t together to take decisive action on THIS issue, while choosing to waffle around and drag their feet on other issues, such as the sexual harassment bill. Priorities!," she said.
"It also makes me wonder what was at stake to make them move so quickly - were influential higher-ups on the list of clientele? Like say... those in top govt or corporate positions?" Aisyah questioned.
She was also concerned about what the government is doing to create safer, legitimate avenues of employment for youths.
It's messed up
Punitha thinks that transactional relationship can be pretty messed up but banning the platform is not the solution.
"Banning sites like Sugarbook will not change anything. All it takes is a VPN account and someone else to create another site, dime a dozen for it to reappear," the editor said.
"Both girls and guys need to be educated from the root up. Something clearly is very wrong here if the girls need to offer personal services to get out of the rut or better yet, she's bored and wants to blow someone's money just because she can.
"Whereas he thinks its okay to tap (literally) in and out as he pleases. I mean, even with consent, this sounds really messed up. From asking for 'sugar' to getting abusive, thats a ticking clock," she opined.
As long as the deal is between consenting adults
IT specialist Thiru, on the other hand, thinks that there's nothing wrong with such arrangements as long as everyone involved are consenting adults.
"It's not unlike a traditional dating situation except there is money transacted, so its a business arrangement, which makes it dangerously similar to prostitution.
"The 'sugar baby' needs to be educated, and must be fully aware of what they're getting into. Because this involves older 'daddies or mommies', there is every possibility that the individual could get taken advantage of, and we all know that men in power take advantage of women when there is zero money involved, let alone when he is 'paying' for her," he cautioned.
Thiru thinks that banning platforms like Sugarbook is not constructive.
"It doesn't solve the problem of women getting themselves into these relationships because this has existed LONG before the app came along.
"The government should do better in terms of educating women and empowering them rather than outright banning something like this as a knee-jerk reaction.
"This whole thing is a consequence to the general lack of education and empowerment for women which leads people to seek these sorts of arrangements out. The App isn't the reason, its a symptom," he said.
It's not sex work
While some of our respondents were of the opinion that being a sugar baby can be considered as getting into sex work, Lawrence* thinks otherwise.
"Sugaring is not sex work. Sugaring is finding companionship. Sex may come after that but it's between the two parties," he said.
The public relations practitioner also thinks that there's nothing wrong with such arrangements as long it's a " decision based on concensus between two adult parties".
He also disagreed with the banning of Sugarbook and the arrest of its owner.
"Sugarbook is a platform to link two parties up like a dating site. Payment is agreed outside of the app which has nothing to do with the app itself," he said.
From a religious point of view, Nadia Ahmad, thinks that "sugaring" is wrong but she is hesitant to dictate how someone else lives their morality.
However, the entrepreneur thinks that the way Sugarbook positions itself is toxic and dangerous for both male and female users.
"If you notice, they do a lot of guerilla marketing. The company purposely put up a big billboard a few years ago, knowing people are going to write about it and riding off of that," she said, adding that the fact the Sugarbook has approched media houses to produce content that looks like "exposé" but glosses over the more unsavory parts of such relationship is concerning.
Nadia also cast doubts on the "data" released by Sugarbook and questions it's lack of transparency when it comes to dangers associated with such jobs.
Referring to a Reddit thread
about the issue, she said that there were accounts of a sugar baby being locked up by her "daddy", the wife of one of the "daddied" turning up at the sugar baby's office and other dangerous incidents.
These issues aren't exactly highlighted by Sugarbook.
"If you look at it, in Malaysia, sex work is already illegal. You can land these people in danger. You’re already putting these people in physical danger but now you’re also putting them in legal danger.
"The worst thing is, in the Malaysian context, even if the girls get into this willingly, what are the safety nets provided? This company hasn’t promised anything," Nadia said.
She added that it will be difficult for sugar babies in a dangerous situation to get help as they could get into more trouble because what they are doing is already illegal.
Another concern that she brought up is the power imbalance in such relationships.
"These are rich, powerful men and the girls are mostly students. What power do they have?
"It’s already hard to get out of a dangerous situation; just look at domestic violence cases in Malaysia. What more when you're involved in something illegal" she added.
Getting involved in a transactional relationship can have its pros and cons, and in the end it all depends on the individuals involved as long as they are adults.
However, it is important to get as much information as possible about the situation one is getting into, safety measures that has to be taken to ensure the protection of everyone involved and just keeping the eyes wide open.
Companies like Sugarbook, while only a platform that assists people to meet others who want the same things, also have a responsibility to be ethical, truthful and have some measures to keep their clients safe.
We expect that from other dating apps and even e-hailing apps. Why wouldn't one expect the same from a company that offers services in an industry that falls into a very grey area legally?
Just remember this: no one can tell you what to do with your time and your body, but just know what you're getting yourself into.