Skip to main content

Guest Post: Nasi lemak, sambal pedas and Coca-Cola!


The following post was written by Distinguished Professor Shamsul Amri Baharuddin (picture) -- his retort to John R. Malott's article entitled The Price of Malaysia's Racism (The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2011).

Malott was the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, 1995-1998.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I am quite certain we can savour Malaysia's famous nasi lemak (picture) in New York and Washington DC as well as in Paris, London and Tokyo. But I guarantee that the one with the hottest sambal (condiment) can only be found in Malaysia.

You can choose between the hot but sweet sambal (condiment) from Kelantan and the pedas (spicy or hot) cooked-in-coconut-milk sambal (condiment) from Negeri Sembilan.

Visitors to Malaysia would be impressed by the wide variety of sambal (condiment) on offer, a topic even the Asian Food Channel on ASTRO channel has not dealt with.

John R. Malott’s article (The Price of Malaysia’s Racism) reminded me of the nasi lemak in Philadelphia; when I tasted the rice dish, it was neither lemak (rich) nor pedas (spicy or hot).

If Malott's opinion piece was meant to be a "stinging" (pedas) attack on the Malays, the Malay-dominated ruling party and the Malay leaders in the present government, it did not come close to criticisms of the present-day regime some local bloggers have been dishing out.

But both Malott and the bloggers have a rather limited audience in Malaysia and abroad. And Malott is aware of this.

Malott's commentary in The Wall Street Journal was not meant for the Malay-educated rural Malaysian or the Mandarin-educated not-so-rich urban Malaysians. It was a 'high-impact' review for potential investors interested in Malaysia.

The moot question: “does Malott’s opinion matter to those who matter”? The answer is "no", if we take the Coca-Cola case.

When Coca-Cola decided to invest Malaysian Ringgit one billion for its new factory in Nilai, Malaysia, the company’s decision must have been based on a thorough research into Malaysia’s present and future economic growth and socio-political stability.

I am not surprised if Malott’s opinion did not matter at all to Coca-Cola. Why? Because it was not as pedas (stinging) as the Malaysian bloggers' critical comments about the Malaysian government which the Coca-Cola people must have read via a rehashed version, for example, the Economist Intelligence Unit country report.

And all nasi lemak lovers agree that the "stinging" fizzy Coca-Cola is an effective American-manufactured antidote to nasi lemak with sambal pedas (spicy or hot condiment).

Comments

Anonymous said…
Bravo Datuk, you have sent Mallot sambal from Negori.

Popular Posts

June weddings

June is the month for weddings and invitations in my letter box prove this. The popularity of June weddings is a global phenomenon. According to Lesley-Ann Graham, author of WeddingTrix.com, June weddings trace their roots to ancient Rome "when couples would marry in June in observance of Juno, the goddess of marriage". It was thought that the goddess would give her blessing to each married pair. But there are also "practical reasons for getting married in June" such as nice weather and school breaks. June weddings are also fashionable in Malaysia where schools take a short break in June and the half-term holiday allows Malaysian parents to plan for their older children's weddings with a lot less hassle than holding them during non-vacation time. Wedding invitations inundated my mail box this month but I could only attend one. Most painfully, I could not be present at Koh Soo Ling's wedding reception. Soo Ling, if you recall, writes for New Sunda

Koh Soo Ling: Letter perfect love

I will not be able to attend my friend's wedding because I will be in Kuching, Sarawak on the day of the reception. When duty calls, ... That is so sad. I will make it up to you Koh Soo Ling, who is pictured here with husband Michael Howard. Soo Ling has found happiness with a wonderful Irish man who loves her with an intensity that makes her heart flutter. She will begin a new life in Ireland and the prospect of living in the countryside fills her with excitement. She will love her man, take care of him, cook and bake for him, take part in community life and write, write and write.  Yes, Soo Ling will continue to write for New Sunday Times and she promises to share her activities with readers in Malaysia. Theirs is not a whirlwind romance. They started as pen pals, two teenagers who were eager to learn about foreign cultures. Pen pal relationships are so mysterious. Some write to their friends abroad for only a short time; others continue to swap letters and gifts in their

When a card came out of the blue ...

This post is prompted by a remark made by my good friend Wei Lin. She saw me reading a card I had received from a friend recently and said: "Traditional cards are so old-fashioned." I wondered if that was true and decided to probe into the issue. A Google search revealed numerous articles on the debate between traditional paper-based cards and e-cards. Tracey Grady's examination of the pros and cons of each type is informative. In my opinion, e-cards are not substitutes for the real (traditional) ones and they shouldn't be. I treat e-card e-mails with suspicion because spammers could be using them to download viruses and software onto my computer. I have never sent anyone an e-card and I don't plan to; I dislike the cold impersonality of conveying greetings electronically. I have always liked sending and receiving cards the traditional way. The ritual of going to a bookshop, browsing at the card section, picking a suitable one for the recipient and then walki