A woman accused of provoking a government shutdown of home businesses defended herself in an interview last night in which she said her critics had it all wrong.
Speaking to TV personality Sujimy Mohamad mostly in Malay, Ateeqah Mazlan said that she never intended to spoil things for people running home businesses when she raised the question online last week, but wanted an answer to confusing rules as she herself was planning to sell home-baked brownies.
Ateeqah shot down accusations that her entreaty for the authorities to explain whether new shutdown rules applied to such businesses, made last week, had resulted in an order to do so several days later, arguing that she wasn’t influential enough to influence such decisions.
“I want to clear my name. Firstly, I did not call HDB to complain about home-based business. I did it for my own knowledge and for other followers. I posted it to IGTV for the followers who asked, with the intention to help so that they would not get fined, and that they are up to date with the rules and are responsible,” she said.
However, the 30-year-old social media personality did say she regretted uploading the video without more deliberation.
“I regret because when I posted the IGTV I didn’t really sit through and check … I did and straight away upload [it] because I thought I should quickly do it so people can quickly know, so that nobody gets fined, that is why I did that,” she said in the interview, which drew an audience of about 30,000 viewers when aired.
Ateeqah later uploaded a video addressing the matter in English, in which she accused netizens of spreading disinformation. She said that she has reported the matter to the authorities.
“I came onto Cik Sujimy Mohamad’s platform to address the consequence that has arisen as a result of my IGTV post. My IGTV post was up for an hour before I took it down and did some damage control,” she said.
“It was then hijacked, altered, and manipulated on Facebook by another person’s account. Various parts were cut out by individuals, who I don’t know personally. The final outcome of that video presented such false messages, sensationalized and was made viral. The viral video that you probably have watched was not mine.”
Agencies including the Housing and Development Board on Sunday confirmed that home-based food businesses must also cease operations if they relied on delivery or pickup services as part of stricter COVID-19 measures. Violators were said to risk S$1,000 fines.
After that rule was announced, many netizens put Ateeqah on blast for allegedly precipitating the decision. Some accused her of snitching on those selling food from home, some of whom cling to Singapore’s lowest economic rungs.
Social media has since been flooded with nasty vitriol, including many calls for her to be #canceled outright.
The weekend’s update to the regulations came nearly a week after Singapore closed cake, dessert, and bubble tea shops to curb COVID-19’s spread. At that time, several home bakers said they were assured that they could still operate.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong reportedly said yesterday that rules for home-based businesses might be relaxed if the rate of infections goes down outside of the workers’ dormitories where they have exploded this month.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Singapore rose to 14,423 yesterday and the death toll to 14. Two elderly Singaporean men were the latest to die of the disease.