Ask anyone when going abroad what are they most proud of in Malaysia, and the most popular answer is Food! . We might have arguments regarding politics, and perhaps a bit of scuffle because of our differences, but like brothers and sisters after a fight we always have each other back . Mention Lee Chong Wei, football and of course if Singapore claiming their nasi lemak is theirs (boo! :) ) . My oh my we really get together and support each other. Suddenly we are color blind, race blind. When Malaysians get together, we could do amazing things together. Remember when we beat Covid for the first time? We did the impossible! . This video still bring shivers to me.
I think Malaysians if we get of our feet, not afraid of hard work, be passionate about something and get most importantly get together, we could go far. We are relatively small country with small population. But we have quite a number of big names abroad.
This entry is about my testimonial of food unity, particularly in Sarawak. Sarawak is a large state consist of 20 races and ethnic group. Let me try to mention some : There's of course Malay, Chinese and Indian , the more commonly known Iban, Bidayuh . Ok now i'm going to mention less known one for west Malaysian : Melanau, Kayan, Kenyah, Penan, Jati Meirek, Selako, Barawan, Kelabit , Kiput , Lun Bawang .. ok this is what came up on my head for now. I failed (sad trollface.jpg) .
Some dark history about our diversity : less than 2 generation ago (around my grandfather's father era) we used to be very violent to each other. We are headhunting tribes, chopping each other head off , all for pursuit of land ownership, chasing each other from each other's land and probably caused by politics (this guy is being supported by that rich guy etc). Its about the same with current scenario of keyboard warriors except at that time people are literally warriors.
As time passes by and we live closer to closer to each other we get to understand each other. We become dependent on each other and started trade, social activity together and of course amalgaming our food! . Of course this doesn't happen overnight. During my parents time marriage between let say between an Iban to Bidayuh is still taboo . Those two lovebirds will have to go through family rejection, drama's perhaps become outcast or maybe eloping to get married. Too bad we don't have a habit or culture of writing down our stories. It might be better than Romeo and Juliet... psst perhap someone do this please :)
And now my generation!. Unity is much better nowadays. A Lun Bawang leng chai can get married to let say an Iban girl and it is a very very normal thing, no resistance at all!. Everybody gets an invite, the chinese co-workers, Malay boss, one longhouse folks in bus coming. My generation "forgot" about the violence that our ancestor went through. We don't have any grouch of what this great grandpa did to that great grandpa. Basically "forgive and forget". At the end of the formal wedding programs, everybody poco poco, the non muslims being in alcohol enhanced jolly mood, and the muslims join in together with their soft drinks during karaoke; probably looking at the non-muslims funny cause they are the sober one there.
Personally I have been living with every races ( I just know a Kiput fella, Kimui running Kolo Mee (non halal) stall, check him out at https://www.facebook.com/Kimuis-sarawak-kitchen-100742238421885 ) , I remember fondly staying in a really cheap shoplot-house with Hakimi and Zul during college time, where it is a routine for us to wake up for "sungke" (or sahur in West Malaysia). I tried to fast but I really can't : hats off to you guys for enduring this every year. They are part of the reason why I got good results in college. This guys are hardworking in their studies and I have to follow suit. Foodwise it is normal for us to sit on the rubber mat together. Zul and Hakimi eating makcik "nasi campur" beside me while I'm eating my favorite dish "sweet sour pork" beside them. When we first move in I kept my distance while eating out of respect but they strongly and sincerely persuade me to eat with them with my char siew etc some time. In case you guys think they are liberal "urban" Malay, they are not. They are traditional guys who keep their solat ( sometime during busy study days I'm worried that they forgot to solat but they actually do remember) Great times :)
Yeah that is some pictures of how united we are in Sarawak. It is normal for a Pak Haji to open Mee Jawa stall in a chinese shop. Sometime the chinese tauke allocate "non halal table" or perhaps a thin barrier out of respect but people just mix together anyway. It is the same with Malay shop too; everybody know the best nasi lemak and roti canai is at the Malay shop. You'll see Chinese, Indian, Iban etc there. Here in West Malaysia we see some of that unity in mamak shop. Sadly not much diversity in let say Chinese shop (there are new wave of "halal"-chinese shop like Old Town where Malay's patron them good job). And there are less chinese frequent Malay stall, probably because chinese are less tolerant on really spicy food; they go to mamak for roti canai and the big screen football. Indians.. well they go to every kind of shop. Good job my macha's.
Remember I said that Sarawak food is amalgam of various races food? Kolok Mee used to be chinese non-halal version but there are halal version now possibly invented by a pak Haji. Dont be alarmed of that red colour sweet meat : its chicken.
So thats our dream: to be in the mix of Old Town cafe, Papparich etc. Chinese come to our shop because of food being familiar to them, Malay come because its halal and of course my macha's (cousin) will come too. Lets watch on our big screen our next generation badminton player win Gold in olympics together, or cry together if he fail after being so close. We dont have a shop now, we are online only for now but ultimately we will (plan is next year, read more here). You guys can support us by buying something here . Lets have a Sarawak shop in West Malaysia and bring Sarawak unity to West Malaysia!.
My diverse colleague (I'm in red)
Enjoy our laksa!