CALL IT cheap publicity but this is just cultural misappropriation of the very worst kind. This centres on a topic that many Malaysians consider to be highly sensitive; no, it has nothing to do with the fanning of 3R (race, religion and royalty) sentiments but rather their favourite foods.
A Harian Metro report has stirred this hornet’s nest by highlighting a stall in Damansara purportedly selling perennial Malayisan favourites – nasi kandar and nasi lemak – with pork side dishes.
The stall was reviewed by a social media influencer and his video has cast the glare of unwanted attention from self-promoting types in the shape of PRESMA (the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan.
Jawahar claimed that it is inappropriate for a dish that is normally associated with Muslim traders to feature non-halal ingredients. He further argues that this stall had tarnished the reputation of nasi kandar and has urged the authorities to take action.
He further stated that officials from the National Unity Ministry has given advice on this issue and will be contacting the operator of the stall.
To say what exactly? Sorry, you can no longer sell non-halal nasi kandar and nasi lemak even though you have a sign clearly stating that the food is NON-HALAL?
What next? Calls to ban pork satay? Or pork rendang.
Just imagine the outcry if the scenario was reversed. What would happen if a Chinese Hawker Association demanded that Muslim traders stop selling halal yong tau foo and dim sum because these recipes traditionally feature pork as an ingredient, thus contravening centuries old traditions?
If anything, the National Unity Ministry should be giving both Harian Metro and Jawahar a ticking off for causing further schisms in society.
This is a thinly veiled attack on cultural diversity. Jawahar’s assertion that nasi kandar is usually “clean” food and insinuating that this stall was filthy also reeks of misplaced assumptions.
Malaysians have been borrowing from each other’s culinary traditions for decades. From celebrated baba nyonya cuisine to the hodge podge of laksa that feature various culinary influences, it is something to be celebrated, not condemned.
If Jawahar’s logic is to be followed, then perhaps Muslim trades should stop selling beef curries since it is normally associated with South Indian Tamil cooking where majority of its Hindu diners do not consume the meat.
Yes, ridiculous, isn’t it. – Oct 31, 2023