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 Comments Add yours

  1. hanny says:

    nooo chicken! we just danced our night away yesterday evening 😥


  2. arisaja says:

    I need a new world map.


  3. Hantu Laut says:

    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.


  4. unspun says:

    @Hantu: I think the most hilarious item was trying to patent “bah kut teh”. Imagine the Umno types trying to do this. What’s next? Cow’s head tartare?


  5. bayi says:

    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?


  6. tueac says:

    Chili Crab is Singapore’s!!!! we invent it!!!

    I saw it on TV once!


  7. djaka says:

    See, this silliness starts in Malaysia, esp. Ministry of Tourism, like other else.


  8. The Spirit of Freedom says:

    Pakcik, Don’t forget your claim of Allah …. Hehehehe


  9. Sibei Boh Liao says:

    Next Step Malaysia Patented “Ice Water, Coke and Pepsi” !


  10. Mark says:

    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


  11. We are already small enough as it is. Albeit with big hearts and even bigger attitudes. We were one as nusantara…


  12. sinkeh says:

    The Minister of Tourism has run out of ideas to do a proper job.


  13. I wonder if the Tourism Minister sees the irony of this situation.

    “Can the Hainanese claim royalties because Malaysia is using their ethnic grouping on Malaysian food?”

    That’s funny. Good call.


  14. Freewill says:

    How about “mee bandung”? I had this item in Kuala Lumpur, and I had it too in a Malaysian student-run resto in Cairo.


  15. Wade says:

    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.


  16. peminatunspun says:

    well while the two countries are bickering, i would that in the end another will benefit from the conclusion…


  17. Wade says:

    if that is the worst you have to argue about life isn’t to bad.


  18. Mimi says:

    so we have to pay royalties for eating nasi lemak?


    1. sinkeh says:

      Goodness gracious, no!

      But we may be required to recite a special “Hail, NYY” salutation! 🙂


  19. huilynn98 says:

    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???


  20. Parwati says:

    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?


  21. taufike says:

    unspun, was this minister a joker? indonesis has of her kind but in parliament. only they stop joking once they are in there


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