Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Malaysians’ preoccupation with food


Being a multiracial country, we have variety of food from local to international cuisine. In short, we are not short of choice. Every new development invariably will be filled with hawker centres and food outlets. Recently, I went to Kota Damansara at night for supper and shocked to find that every street is filled with restaurants and hawker centres. You are spoiled for choice.

Eating out is now a favourite pastime and to many people, a daily routine. Recently, the local newspaper reported that 40 percent of the people eat out daily. Interestingly, price is of prime concern. The food hygiene is not placed on the top priority. This survey is not surprising since it is common to find some well-known food outlet where the level of hygiene within the premise can be quite appalling. There are even well known hawker centres where toilet paper is used as tissue paper and if you go to the toilet, you will lose your appetite, probably for days. Because we are not concern with hygiene, a lot of food operators pay scant attention to hygiene and cleanliness.

We have such preoccupation with food that it is not uncommon for Malaysians while having lunch to talk about dinner, where to eat, what to eat and who to invite. We are not fussy about whether we are eating the right food. When it suits our taste and it is within our budget, we just eat it. To most Malaysians, healthy and unhealthy food is alien to them. As far as the taste is great, it is good. In this respect, the ladies seem to show a better understanding of the type of food to be eaten. There is a famous saying “you are what you eat”, but Malaysians don’t really care very much as long as it is delicious. Hence, it is not surprising that overweight and obesity register double digit growth every year among Malaysians. Most Malaysians are also not aware that obesity is the mother of all illness.

Because of our preoccupation with food, there is a mushrooming of food outlet. It cannot be denied that competition is keen. After all, the economic pie will be getting smaller. However, there seems to be an understanding among food operators that they should not undercut each other in food prices. Hence, there may be competition, but not a price war. In fact, over the years, food prices have slowly but steadily gone up.


8 comments:

august said...

It is indeed shocking the extent of Malaysians preoccupation with food. We are what we eat and the health care industry is certainly mushrooming all over the country with people's careless attitude towards health. Its time you do something right for a change and gain our respect

Apple said...

Don't you think the health ministry should do some awareness programs on cleanliness and hygiene??? It is such a shame the food industries have engaged many foreign workers that they themselves dont even keep their country clean. And we engaged them to prepare food and clean the public places that are to their standards, not ours.. It sad that we Malaysian talk and not doing anything about it. We eat at these dirty places with our family members, children and friends, like what you said as long as it's delicious and dont care if it's nutritious, clean or cooked with good quality oil. Which ministry is responsible for such cleanliness and hygiene of these eatery places??? He must be sleeping....

Pearls said...

and so, the issue here is??? unhygienic food outlets? unhealthy food? price competition??

If you are talking about unhygienic food outlet conditions, well, what can I say? Isnt that the job of the health ministry? I do know that in other countries, Hong Kong for example, their enforcement is very strong. Their Health department has the power to shut down the eatery and recommend guilty food operator be blacklisted. So, why cant our Health minstry do the same? What are the big obsticles hindering our Health Ministry from having such authority?

As for unhealthy food, well, it is a personal choice. People chose to want to eat unhealthy food and there is nothing anyone in this whole wide world can do anything about it. I have plenty of friends who will groge themselves with the most unhealthy food... crispy pig fats laden in hokkien mee (tambang lagi some more!!) chicken skin (sometimes will specially asked the chicken rice seller to give just the skin) rich penggats and desserts or 1 inch thick oil covered sup kambing or tulang..

They are well aware of the evil of such food but yet, they still induldge frequently. It is not about education, it is not about awareness, it is all about self love!

As far as price competition, nothing is coming down hunny!! The prices of goods have not drop half a cent, so why should prices of food come down. What competition are you talking about when food sellers are not making huge profits? How to competite?

Low C. W. said...

agreed with Apple that foreign worker flooding the hawker center is primary concern...they have different level of understaning in term of hygiene, what is acceptable to them is far from what we can accept.

so limiting this area from foreign worker shld put in place.

Anonymous Says said...

Dear Dr Chua,
How can Malaysians be healthy if all Malaysians from all walks of life eat and eat and eat ? Just look at the budget for a food menu.
6 in the morning, buffet breakfast with tea and coffee
10 in the morning, two types of finger food, tea and coffee
1 in the afternoon, buffet lunch with free flowing juice or water
3 in the afternoon, two types of finger food, tea and coffee
6 in the evening, buffet dinner with free flowing juice or water
10 at night, supper with two finger food, coffee and tea
There is no difference whether it is a lady or a man. The ladies will also eat what is given freely. It is not just eating but also talking. When will work be done seriously ? Then you find people getting fatter and fatter and fatter. But each time the food is laid out, they will invite their fat friends to join them again. How can there be a lean government if everybody goes around, carrying the heavy weight of their bodies ? You seriously think that they can be good workers ? As for the open stalls, there is the issue of kopi o licenses and that is why even in Kuala Lumpur, you find such dirty open stalls next to the drain with the foulest smell around and still you find people sitting and eating there. It is cheaper, no doubt. But the standard for a city ? The standard for Vision 2020 ?

Apple said...

Just to add to my comment earlier, we Malaysian are spoilt with food choices. But I really sympathized with those low income group family that they have no other choice but to eat at places according to their budget. My respect to YB DS Dr Chua for going to the ground level to understand what the rakyat has been suffering. Dont you think that we Malaysian should uplift our quality of life according to our intelligence? There are many factors to what we are now. 1st the education level in our country is sucks. The way our government try to govern our country with their religion. In short, we have to iron out our weaknesses and strengthen our multi racial ethnic society. Although I have some conflicts with some people in the MCA, nevertheless, I stand by MCA for fighting for the Chinese. Screw the politician that do not go to the ground level to experience what the rakyat has been suffering. I must say again, I respect Dr Chua for his comments in his blog. Cant find another person like him. How I wish Malaysia is truly asia as claimed... Sucks is the word. Politicians, please save our country for the sake of our children. Ban plastics and styrofoam usage in all hawkers. We are the bream of experiencing judgement day according to the Bible. May the mercy God be with us. Sorry for talking too much. More comments contribution is good to stimulate our minds before the Barisan is out in the next election. I really hope that Barisan could continue to rule this country with all their experience but 1st you all must tidy up all the mess. Cant stand those politicians with big arrogant mouth. You people know what I meant. @#$% them!!!

呉 和豪 said...

Saudara Dr. Chua Soi Lek

你的样子像香港的蔡澜,但想法相反,蔡澜只注重美味而不注重健康,曾豪口说过[没有cholestrol]的食物他不吃。你就相反,怕死,只讲究卫生及健康。

呉 和豪 said...

Saudara Dato Seri Chua Soil Lek

为何这样巧合, 一写到蔡澜,NTV 7就在五月十六日两点放映蔡澜先生制作的[椰林春恋]。蔡澜先生通过他制作的电影,能够把马来西亚名胜介绍到香港对马来西亚旅游业的发展有很大的贡献。蔡澜先生是潮州才子,你也是潮州才子,你要向蔡澜先生看齐,不要辜负马来西亚人民。

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