There is a hilarious opening scene in the comedy film Thank You For Smoking where the film’s protagonist, Big Tobacco Spokesman Nick Taylor is hemmed in by anti-tobacco guests in a talk show.
He panics for a moment but then decides that the best way he could defend himself is to attack the other parties.
For some reason this tactic comes to Unspun‘s mind when he read this delicious story in The Jakarta Globe’s website today.
Even as Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman was talking to her counterpart in Jakarta to solve the spats between both countries, most of them over accusations of how Malaysia had “stolen” its culture, the Malaysian Tourism Minister is announcing an initiative to crack down on other countries that “steal” its food.
Of course this may potentially open up huge debates on whether ketupat, satay (or sate) etc rightfully resides in Indonesia or Malaysia but for sure the Lion City, that bills among its cultural exports Singapore Chili Crabs, won’t be amused.
And what about the residents of Hainan Island? If Malaysia “owns” Hainanese Chicken Rice then that do the Hainanese themselves own? Can the Hainanese claim royalties because Malaysia is using their ethnic grouping on Malaysian food?
So much to chew on over things that matter so little. One can’t help feeling that Malaysia has bitten off more than it can chew in this instance.
Malaysia Fights Back: Tourism Minister Vows To Stop Other Countries ‘Hijacking’ Its Cuisine
Malaysia will lay claim to its signature dishes like laksa and nasi lemak, which is popular in Indonesia, to stop them being “hijacked” by other countries, the tourism minister said according to a report on Thursday.
Those on the list include the fragrant coconut milk rice ‘nasi lemak’, spicy soup noodle ‘laksa’ and pork ribs herbal soup ‘bak kut teh’, Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen said according to the Star newspaper.
“We cannot continue to let other countries hijack our food. Chili crab is Malaysian. Hainanese chicken rice is Malaysian. We have to lay claim to our food,” she was quoted as saying.
“In the next three months, we will identify certain key dishes (to declare as Malaysian). We have identified laksa… all types of laksa, nasi lemak and bak kut teh,” she added.
Ng said her ministry will announce a strategy on how to brand the dishes as Malaysian.
“That is Part Two. We cannot reveal it yet, but we will let you know soon,” she reportedly said.