Food, the secret to a united Malaysia

Food, the secret to a united Malaysia
Cooking with gusto: Chef Wan demonstrating how to cook a laksa dish at the launch of his latest book '400 Resipi Terbaik Chef Wan'.

Known to foodies the world over as Chef Wan, Datuk Redzuawan Ismail believes that food can unite Malaysians.

And, he does not mince his words when he chides "extremists" for tearing the nation apart, fighting over everything, including food.

The 56-year-old grandfather throws his hands up in exasperation, shocked that some people had suggested blood transfusion for Muslims to cleanse themselves after the recent fiasco where porcine DNA was allegedly found in some batches of Cadbury (the Malaysian Islamic Development Department has since confirmed that Cadbury is halal).

Chef Wan, who has six siblings, shares how his Peranakan Chinese grandmother was always respectful of his family, even having separate cutlery and plates for them whenever they visited. Thus, he does not get why Malaysians today cannot respect each other's religious beliefs and culture.

He calls on the people to unite over food instead of fighting over it.

You believe food unites but a proposal to patent the assam pedas Melaka, a former minister's declaration that Malaysian food had been hijacked by other countries and the recent Cadbury fiasco appear to have shown otherwise.

Any food, so long as it is halal and does not offend any religious sensitivities, can unite.

All religions encourage people to eat together to foster closeness. It is stupid to fight over food.

God brings food into the world to unite people and for us to be happy and healthy.

We should feel blessed instead of trying to own everything and judge everyone.

All this blood cleansing is stupid. (Religious) extremists are poisoning people's minds. This country is not just for Muslims. 1Malaysia means it is for everybody.

We bang the gong and tell the world we are multi-cultural but then we do something that is completely opposite. It's a free world. You cannot impose your belief on others because then you will create a society that judges.

In every civilisation, religious houses are built and then destroyed but we have not learnt anything from history. We are still on a path of destruction. I don't judge people by the colour of their skin and I don't care if you are gay or straight.

The world is in a mess because people don't respect each other anymore. I don't like what we have become.

In January, you slammed Malaysia Airlines for their 'naked nasi lemak' served with only half a hard-boiled egg and some sambal to accompany the rice. Has the dish improved?

Now they are giving peanuts and all that. I understand they are cutting cost but it's sad that we have fallen to this level.

In the old days, MAS used to be up there but a lot of people are choosing to fly other airlines now because of the huge difference in food and service.

I don't want to stick my nose in the aviation business but we must take pride in our heritage food and do it properly.

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