Fact Check : Empty Shops In Johor Bahru Due To COVID?

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A video showing rows of empty shops in Johor Bahru has gone viral, showing how badly the economy has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was also accompanied by a warning that Singaporeans should not visit Johor Bahru because they will be targeted by desperate robbers.

Find out what’s going on, and what the facts really are!

Fact Check : Empty Shops In Johor Bahru Due To COVID?


Empty Shops In Johor Bahru Due To COVID-19?

In the video, the driver records himself driving past long rows of empty shops. There is no audio commentary, but it is often accompanied by claims that it was recorded in Johor Bahru or Kulai.

One message even warned that Singaporeans should not visit Johor Bahru because they will be targeted by desperate robbers there.

JB very sipeh jialat now 👇🏿👇🏿👇🏿…. most shops are advertising for sale or rental. Also, as advised by ICA Officers, even when the border is open to Singapore, Singaporeans shouldn’t rush in becoz there will many broad daylight robberies targeting Singaporeans.


Empty Shops In Johor Bahru Due To COVID-19? Bullshit!

Here are the reasons why this is yet another Internet hoax…

Reason #1 : Those Empty Shops Are In Kota Kemuning, Selangor

A close examination of the video will show that there are at least two occupied shops, and the one with the clearest signboard belonged to Optimus Business Solutions.

A quick check on Google Maps will reveal that Optimus Business Solution is located in the IP5 Business Park, Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam, Selangor.

Optimus Business Solutions

Reason #2 : They Are New Shops @ Sinaria Tropicana Aman

The shops at IP5 Business Park, however, look different from the shops in the video.

Thanks to clues provided by Terrence Chin, we traced the shops to a new development called Sinaria Tropicana Aman, in Kota Kemuning South, Selangor.

The Sinaria Tropicana Aman shops definitely look exactly like those in the video.

We tried to call Optimus Business Solution to find out if they moved to Sinaria Tropicana Aman, but they were uncontactable, possibly due to the CMCO / PKPB lockdown.

Reason #3 : Businesses Need To Exist First To Close Down

Sinaria is a relatively new development that completed in 2019, and here is a Google Street View taken in August 2019.

At that time, it was completely empty, with no operational business. The presence of two RORO (Roll On, Roll Off) bins for renovation / construction waste, suggests that at least some renovation was undergoing.

Sinaria Tropicana Aman Street View August 2019

The video appears to be taken after this Street View shot, with many banners and at least seven operational businesses visible.

This suggests that while uptake has been slow, at least some businesses have moved into Sinaria Tropicana Aman.

We also do not see any old signboards of businesses that have shut down.

If this was an older development blighted by COVID-19, you would see old signboards under the banners.

In other words, the streets were empty not because of COVID-19 lockdowns, but because the development is relatively new during a period of commercial real estate glut.


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