We came across this message being forwarded on WhatsApp:
The message states that the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has opened a “consular office” on the 35th floor of City Square mall in Johor Bahru.
It is stated that the office would be used to “attend to Singaporeans who have problems in Johor” and that if Singaporeans lose their passports, they “need not go to KL (Kuala Lumpur) for the replacement”. The message also states that Singaporeans who have lost their passports should apply for a Document of Identity (DOI), and those who “require urgent Consular assistance after office hours can call MFA Duty Officer at +6019 791 1166”.
The message then goes on to list a few contact numbers, addresses and emails, purportedly of the MFA Duty Office and the Singapore Consulate-General in Johor Bahru.
It is uncertain who crafted the message, but it is important to note its timeliness given that Monday (29 November) marked the launch of the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) between Singapore and Malaysia, which allows a certain number of individuals to travel in between both countries without the need for quarantine.
Are the contact details listed in the message legitimate?
When we did a check on the details listed for the MFA Duty Office on MFA’s website, we see that save for the telephone numbers, the email address and fax numbers are accurate:
A check on MFA’s website for the Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore in Johor Bahru also reveals that the contact details and office hours as listed in the WhatsApp message are accurate:
Yet another piece of ‘recycled’ fake news
When we did a Google search of the keywords “mfa johor bahru”, we were led to an article on Mothership published in 2019.
Titled “Old fake news about MFA opening ‘consular office’ at JB’s City Square circulating again“, we read about a similar message being circulated on Facebook in June 2019:
As seen, the message that was being circulated then is almost similar to what we came across on WhatsApp.
Then, MFA took to Facebook to clarify that:
- The message was not sent out by MFA officers;
- The Consulate-General in Johor Bahru has been open since Nov 2009;
- The Consulate-General is open during normal working hours
The Mothership article also noted that the fake message can be even traced to late June 2018.
Misinformation with a hint of useful information
As for the part of the message which states that Singaporeans who lose their passports need not head to Kuala Lumpur to replace it, we refer to MFA’s website once again.
The websites states that “Singaporeans who have lost their passports may apply for a Document of Identity (DOI), valid for a Single Journey to travel back to Singapore, at the Consulate-General (in Johor Bahru) during opening hours (8.30 am – 5.00 pm) from Mondays to Fridays except public holidays”. This means that the information provided in the message is actually accurate.
Therefore, while it appears that the information about the Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore in Johor Bahru as seen in the viral message is more or less accurate, the insinuation that this is a new ‘consular office’ is false.