Sunday, September 20, 2009

part 2 of the food claim rant

Ms. Politician, can u pls be more sensible like the Singapore MP:

The Electric New Paper :
M'sia's Crab Grab
Let's not get carried away, says MP
LET'S not get into a food fight; it may just be a farce.
19 September 2009

LET'S not get into a food fight; it may just be a farce.

Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Charles Chong, for one, feels Singapore should live and let live.

'They can do what they want to do,' he said when told about the Malaysian government's plan to lay claim to dishes such as Hainanese chicken rice and chilli crab, 'as long as they are aware that there's a Singapore version.'

We're all from the same Asean region, he added, so there's no need for everybody to get so territorial. There is also no need for countries to get so carried away to the point of conflict.

Mr Chong said he witnessed recent anti-Malaysia demonstrations in Jakarta over what Indonesians saw as Malaysia's attempts to steal the Balinese 'pendet' dance and the folk song Rasa Sayang, which Indonesians view as part of their cultural heritage.

'I've never seen so much passion and anger as I did then,' said Mr Chong of the protests in the Indonesian capital.

Things need not be taken to such extremes, he said.

'As long as we can continue to eat these dishes without paying royalties, I don't mind,' he said.

Indeed, the issue is not Pedra Branca, said Mr Ang Kiam Meng, president of the Restaurant Association of Singapore, referring to the territorial dispute with Malaysia over the island, which had to be settled through the international courts.

The association has more than 300 members representing over 1,000 food outlets.

He said: 'Malaysia can claim what they want, Singapore can claim also what we want. There's no hard and fast rule.

'We used to belong to one country, soit's hard to say who first invented something, where it originated from.

Let the world decide

'We say we invented chilli crab but they say it's theirs. The world will decide. There will be some variation, for example our laksa and nasi lemak are different from theirs, so it's up to the tourism industry to brand these dishes accordingly.'

Makansutra's K F Seetoh said he believes that the Malaysian announcement is 'very well-thought out, but it's nothing more than a publicity stunt'.

The New Paper's food critic, Yeoh Wee Teck, agreed.

'I find it very ridiculous. It's probably just a publicity ploy to get people talking,' he said. 'Certainly chicken rice and chilli crab are more Singaporean.'

But Mr Yeoh was less certain about the other dishes on the Malaysian list, such as laksa, bak kut teh and nasi lemak.

He said: 'Most of these dishes were created in the 1950s and 1960s when Singapore and Malaysia were one country, so it's difficult to say now where each dish originated from and when.

'So if they really want to, since we were part of them then, they can say everything is Malaysian.'

Moreover, different countries do it differently, he said. 'It could be one common dish but done the Singaporean way here.'

Chinese banquet chef of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, Mr Roy Chua, 46, who has 29 years' experience in the kitchen, shared the same sentiments.

'It's very difficult to say who can claim ownership of these dishes, and where they really originated from,' said Mr Chua.

'There's been so much mixing and migration (to and between Singapore and Malaysia) over so many years that it's very difficult to pinpoint.'

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