Man apologises for spreading Covid-19 fake news about three restaurants

Lim Swee Peng, 52 (left) apologising to Ernest Tan, 44 (right), Jerry Kee, 36 (second from right) while Bukit Tambun assemblyman Goh Choon Aik looks on during a meet up at a restaurant in Sungai Bakap, Penang on 25 Feb 2020.

NIBONG TEBAL: A 52-year-old man has apologised for spreading rumours alleging three restaurants had positive Covid-19 cases, causing their business to plunge.

Lim Swee Peng apologised to the restaurants, their neighbours, and the community for creating two posts on Facebook with photos of the restaurants attached.

As the restaurants selling duck rice, vegetable dumplings (chai kuih) and dumpling noodles have operated for generations and are well known among the local community, the post quickly went viral over social media before he took it down.

"I heard it from rumours and it was meant to warn others, never had I expected the information would be false.

"I sincerely apologise to the restaurants and everyone around.

"I now assure everybody that the restaurants are indeed Covid-19 free and there is no truth to the rumours," he said during a press conference at one of the restaurants in Sungai Bakap here on Thursday (Feb 25).

The restaurants' operators did not lodge a police report over the incident and forgave Lim.

Among the affected victims was Ernest Tan, 44, who operates the duck rice stall with his father.

"On Tuesday (Feb 23), the street turned quiet and there were hardly any customers in the shop.

"I was shocked when several phone calls came in asking if any Covid-19 cases were recorded at my restaurant, then I was told about the social media posts.

"Even neighbouring hawkers came to see me for clarification," he said.

Dumpling noodle seller Jerry Kee, 36, said he was disappointed over the incident as it affected the livelihood of his workers and villagers living around.

"Business in the entire village dropped because of the fake news.

"People are working hard in business to earn and feed their families," said Kee, whose mother started the business about 30 years ago.

Bukit Tambun assemblyman Goh Choon Aik who was present to mediate the session urged the public to verify any information before sharing it.

"Seek confirmation of any news with authorities such as the Health Ministry before making assumptions and spreading information on Covid-19 cases.

"Although there are Covid-19 cases reported in this district, they are not linked to the three restaurants but the social media post of false information has caused people to speculate blindly.

"As the town is famous for local and traditional food, they suffered due to the fake news.

"I'm glad that they were forgiving towards Lim and the issue was settled amicably," he said.

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