CNN’s praise of Sin­ga­pore chen­dol riles Malaysians

The New Paper - - NEWS - NG HUI­WEN

A re­cently re­leased list of the world’s best desserts has reignited the great food de­bate be­tween food­ies in Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia.

This time, it is over chen­dol, an icy sweet dessert of pan­dan jelly, red beans and co­conut milk, laced with palm su­gar.

CNN an­nounced its lat­est list of 50 of the world’s best desserts, in­clud­ing chen­dol from Sin­ga­pore along­side New York cheese­cake, Hong Kong egg tarts and Thai mango sticky rice, last Satur­day.

It said that while ver­sions of the “bliss­fully cool dessert” can be found across South-east Asia, Sin­ga­pore’s take on the treat, with sweet­ened red beans, is “es­pe­cially tempt­ing”.

Sin­ga­pore­ans en­joy hav­ing the chilled dessert on swel­ter­ing after­noons and it has be­come a favourite at sea­side restau­rants and side­walk stands, CNN added.

But this has left a bad taste in the mouths of Malaysian so­cial me­dia users, who ques­tioned if Sin­ga­pore’s ver­sion of chen­dol was unique enough to be listed as the best in the re­gion.

Twit­ter user Kenny Kuek said: “This def­i­nitely angers a lot of Malaysians. You should be more sen­si­tive about the cul­ture in this re­gion. #Chen­dol is not from Sin­ga­pore.”

Another Twit­ter user, mdamiruzri, added: “Don’t mess with Malaysian food. Chen­dol is from Malaysia, not Sin­ga­pore.

“Ask Sin­ga­pore­ans where they get gula melaka (palm su­gar) – the main in­gre­di­ent of chen­dol – from.”

Sin­ga­pore Red­dit users, how­ever, noted that chen­dol also has roots in In­done­sia, which makes the on­go­ing de­bate be­tween Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia fu­tile.

A Red­dit user said: “Here we go again. This is what hap­pens with ar­ti­fi­cial bound­aries be­ing im­posed.”

In 2009, then Malaysian Tourism Min­is­ter Ng Yen Yen said other

coun­tries had “hi­jacked” lo­cal dishes such as laksa and nasi lemak, and said it was high time that Malaysia claimed them as Malaysian.

In 2012, yusheng sparked another bat­tle be­tween ne­ti­zens on both sides when a pro­fes­sor named yusheng among six things in Sin­ga­pore he wanted to see on Unesco’s in­tan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage list.

When Sin­ga­pore an­nounced this year that it will go ahead with its bid to get United Na­tions recog­ni­tion for hawker cul­ture, many Malaysians sim­i­larly ex­pressed their un­hap­pi­ness over the move.

Ear­lier this year, South-east Asians united in de­fence of the chicken ren­dang dish that re­sulted in Malaysian-born chef Zaleha Kadir Olpin be­ing elim­i­nated from MasterChef UK, af­ter a judge crit­i­cised it for not be­ing crispy enough.

nghui­[email protected]

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