Whose Chicken Rice is it anyway?

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.

via Malaysia Fights Back: Tourism Minister Vows To Stop Other Countries ‘Hijacking’ Its Cuisine – The Jakarta Globe.

23 thoughts on “Whose Chicken Rice is it anyway?

Add yours

  1. That sounds hilarious.Never heard of any country trying to patent its cuisine, so nobody else can lay claim to it.Most like to internationalise their cuisine but only few have been successful.In recent times, the Japanese have been most successful.You can now find Japanese food all over the world and no Japanese have complained even if they are sold by non-Japanese, unless the food is really bad.

    Our minister ought to have her head examine for such silly ideas.

    See! when they talk, they only talk about West Malaysia as if Sabah and Sarawak don’t exist.

    She forgot our very own Sabah dish called ‘ngui chap’, which the West Malaysian have copied now.

    I think both Indonesians and Malaysians should stop being petty.


  2. Pardon my ignorance. I think it’s Ng Yen Yen’s chicken rice. I don’t think anyone else has laid claim to it.

    This race to patent culture seems to have taken on hilarious dimensions. Chicken rice, nasi lemak and what else along the way? Malaysia is a potpurri of sorts and would the Malaysian government think of patenting some special Indian roti of thosai? Then the Indian government would be drawn in.

    Is there any light at the end of the tunnel?


  3. aiya..if minister say its theirs…it means a proclaim lor…so that the next one who comes out and kpkb no effect liao…but no point la…such a childish claim. afterall i still ate the best in Singapore. never knew we might have a war over chicken rice/laksa… Angry ! LOL


  4. Stupidest thing I have heard all week, funny though. Hummm I went to a Thai restaurant in KL, guess you are going to have to close them down since we are branding food now……don’t forget about the Italian and French ones, once they get on this you will have to send royalties to Europe. LOL…..A nicer way of looking at this, if thats the worst issue that a government has to deal with, things can’t be going to badly.


  5. French Fries are not French…so let’s chop it first and name them our national food! And while we’re at it, let’s lay claim to the produce “Fragrance Rice” as well since we consume so much of them and no one else has yet lay claim to it as yet???


  6. comment on the chilli crab food claimed by malaysian government – fight over food….

    i am just can’t stop laughing. to me, if i want to whole world know about me, make myself popular and famous around the globe, i MUST make my own identity, not copying others and claim that was my masterpiece. ha ha haaaaa…….we all seen that the Balinese dance was also used to promote malaysian tourism – what else next?


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