Shoppers throng supermarket in frenzy, thanks to fake news of Johor Crown Prince footing the bill

Shoppers filled carts at a Pontian supermarket after hearing fake news that the Johor Crown Prince (right) would be paying for their groceries.
Facebook video screengrab and Johor Southern Tigers Facebook page

He did it once, so he’d do it again, right? Not necessarily, so don’t believe everything you hear.

A supermarket in Pontian, Johor, was left to deal with the aftermath of a shopping frenzy, after crowds thronged the store and loaded carts full of groceries only to abandon the goods later.

The cause of the chaos? Fake news.

On Thursday (Apr 12), shoppers turned the Econsave supermarket in Pontian upside down because they heard that Johor’s Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim would be paying for their groceries in a surprise visit.

The fake news, spread via voice recording, claimed that the prince was prepared to spend RM200 ($52) on each shopper from noon on Thursday, New Straits Times (NST) reported.

In the rush to fill shopping carts, shoppers neglected public announcements made by the supermarket staff that the news was fake.

According to The Straits Times, about 1,000 shoppers had already arrived by 10am.

 

Police had to be called in to manage the crowds.

“We suffered a bit of loss today but (it’s) okay. What saddened us was that some of the people who came were disabled people and senior citizens who did not want to miss out on the free shopping frenzy,” a staff at the supermarket was quoted by NST as saying.

Read also: Anyone can fall victim to fake news, even if you’re the Malaysian prime minister’s wife

Tunku Ismail carried out a similar deed the day before at an Aeon Mall supermarket in Tebrau City. The 33-year-old reportedly spent RM1 million after offering to pay for shoppers’ groceries then.

The prince later clarified that he had done so not out of political motivation, but out of love for the people.

Unfortunately, staff at that supermarket weren’t feeling too much love because they too had to clean up a heap of mess left behind by frantic shoppers who took the opportunity to stock up on months’ of groceries.

On Friday, local police confirmed that news of the Crown Prince paying for groceries at Pontian was indeed fake, NST reported.

Investigations will be carried out under the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 as well as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, they added.

The Anti-Fake News Act became officially enforceable after it was gazetted on Wednesday this week.

Under the new law, those guilty of spreading false information can be fined up to RM500,000 and jailed for up to six years.

Read also: Amnesty International calls Malaysian fake news bill ‘assault on freedom of expression’