KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA is starting a food fight.
Laksa, nasi lemak, Hainanese chicken rice, chilli crab and bak kut teh are all Malaysian dishes, Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen declared. On Wednesday, Datuk Seri Dr Ng accused other countries of 'hijacking' local dishes such as laksa and nasi lemak, and said it was high time that Malaysia claimed them as Malaysian. 'We cannot continue to let other countries hijack our food,' she said, without naming the countries. 'Chilli crab is Malaysian. Hainanese chicken rice is Malaysian. We have to lay claim to our food,' the minister said after she launched the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival. But some food critics disagreed, saying that it would not be possible for a country to claim ownership over the dishes. Malaysian celebrity chef Rohani Jelani said that food in general is not politically divided. As people move from one country to another, they also take with them the recipes of their favourite food. 'I think it is difficult to claim ownership or to say exactly what food originated from where. This is because there are no boundaries when it comes to food,' she told The Straits Times. Singapore food celebrity K.F. Seetoh agreed that it would be impossible for anyone to claim ownership over food, even if a certain dish is easily available at a certain place.
Read the full story in Friday's edition of The Straits Times.