Actress-influencer Ateeqah Mazlan apologises after being accused of causing home-based businesses in S'pore to shut

She said it was not her fault.

Belmont Lay | April 27, 2020, 11:44 PM

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A major hullabaloo has exploded online as a Suria actress-turned-social media influencer has been accused of being a snitch that resulted in the official temporary stoppage of all home-based businesses that deliver physical goods in Singapore during this Covid-19 circuit breaker period.

The 30-year-old personality, Ateeqah Mazlan, has since been demonised on social media platforms, and her name ended up trending on Twitter in Singapore.

Home-based business owners woke up to rude shock

The events that transpired within the last three days occurred at breakneck speed.

Berita Harian first reported on Saturday, April 25 that food vendors were not supposed to operate from home during this circuit breaker period if it involved delivery services.

If the owner has to leave the premises or have third-party services deliver the goods, HDB said the home-based businesses will have to cease operations.

There is a fine of S$1,000 for the first offence, and repeated offenders face higher fines if they are caught persisting with their activities.

New temporary rule means only non-physical goods could be produced

The implementation of the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 has effectively resulted in online content creators who do not deliver a physical product to remain operational.

Many Malay-Muslim F&B businesses have been severely affected as a result, as many of them operate from home, and especially so, considering it is so close to the festive season.

Measure cut right into Ramadan bazaar vein

Home-based businesses engaged in F&B services have long been recognised as the lifeblood of the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore.

So far, the Ramadan bazaars have already been cancelled due to the Covid-19 infection, putting an end to thousands of small businesses that thrive during this festive period, where a large proportion of sales and earnings are derived.

Specialised e-commerce platforms, such as GeylangBazaar.Online, were created in response to the physical closures, but they have also effectively become moot overnight.

With businesses shut down, courier services such as Lalamove are effectively stopped from acquiring new clients and customers.

Overall, it has been one thing leading to another.

What did Ateeqah Mazlan do?

Ateeqah, a former actress, posted a video on her Facebook page of herself making calls to the Singapore authorities and delving deep into the issue to answer definitively if home-based businesses were allowed to function.

By the end of her video, which appeared to have come out on the weekend, she managed to ascertain that home-based businesses were not allowed to continue operating.

She then urged others who were concerned to call the authorities if they need further confirmation.

The video has since been taken down, but duplicates exist online:

However, it is not exactly clear if her video was the actual cause of the authorities stepping in to issue the official take on things, or it so happened that her video started making the rounds before the announcement from the government, and she inadvertently ended up looking like she caused the confirmation to come to pass.

As a result of the backlash online, Ateeqah took down her Facebook and Instagram pages, but defended herself on Twitter.

What is clear though is that the narrative that Ateeqah was the ultimate snitch has been crystallised on Twitter.

Ateeqah explains herself live on Facebook

In a short segment on a live chat with reporter and personality Sujimy Mohamad, Ateeqah apologised and explained herself, as well as recounted the toll the brouhaha has caused her and her family.

Some 43,500 people tuned in to watch the part where she spoke.

The show took place on Monday night, April 27.

You can read the full transcript of Ateeqah's live interview with Sujimy here.

What is being done now?

A petition, with 65,000 signatures and counting, was set up to appeal to HDB to allow small home-based businesses to continue during the circuit breaker.

Farid Khan, the president of the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a former presidential candidate, said the organisation would be looking into the matter to “find an amicable solution without compromising social distancing procedures”.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Faishal Ibrahim said on Facebook on April 27 that home-based business owners can apply for a Temporary Relief Fund grant for a one-time cash payment of S$500.