Daniel Ong and Mark Lee are just the celebrity faces of the dire situation that the food and beverage industry is facing in Singapore. Another hard-hit area that may be in worse straits than the Central Business District in Singapore, though, is Johor Bahru–and people have the photos to prove it.

What is happening to celebrity-owned restaurants in Singapore?

We can’t breathe

On the Facebook page for GO JOHOR, a digital advertising agency handling clients in Johor Bahru, the owners recently posted a series of photos showing the situation in the border town that used to be bustling with business before the novel coronavirus reached Singaporean shores.

The statement could be alluding to the effects of the coronavirus on the body or could it be a reference to the Black Lives Matter protests in the West?

According to the post, several businesses have put up tarpaulin signage that asks Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sir Muhyiddin Yassin for help. Using the specific phrase “We can’t breathe!” along with a photo of a man clutching his chest, the businesses wish for the re-opening of their bars and restaurants. The tarpaulin signs are mostly in Chinese.

Johor Bahru has its own “gangs.”

The post said,


“Prime Minister, we can’t breathe! ”

“PM please, we can’t breathe!”

After the business district, do you find that many entertainment venues have used his petition? A simple line speaks of the sadness of the entertainment industry.

Since the implementation of the Circuit Breaker in March, all walks of life have been hit by the epidemic. Although most areas have been allowed to re-open, they do not include disco, karaoke, and bars.

The entertainment industry, including others, are still unable to resume work. Three months of “zero income”, coupled with high rents, employee salaries and various expenses, make the owners and bosses cry.

As the government bans the operation of entertainment establishments, about 30% or 753 of the entertainment venues in Johor will face closure. This will also indirectly affect the livelihoods of more than 100,000 people, including singers and orchestras.

Please share this actively, hoping that the government can listen to the people’s voice and hope that the entertainment industry will survive the cold winter as soon as possible.

The post has been shared over 400 times as of publishing.

According to the post, a lot of the establishments in Johor Bahru are feeling the pinch even when restaurants have been allowed to open. With the border between Malaysia and Singapore heavily restricted with leisure activities being controlled, the district still can’t catch up with the rest of the country.

Has Daniel Ong finally gotten the message instead of complaining about his restaurant business?

The post says that 30% of the businesses in Johor Bahru would not survive the continued measures of social distancing and restricted movement between Singapore and Malaysia. Thanks to the continued payments for rent and trying to pay their workers, they are facing closure. Some of the restaurants have opened for delivery, and the page asked their followers to share the post aggressively.

Most of the people sharing the post seem to be workers in the district, who are asking the Malaysian Prime Minister for help.

Netizens bash Daniel Ong for his entitled requests to help save his business despite lavish lifestyle posts.

Header image from GO JOHOR BAHRU Facebook page.