DRINKS IN MALAYSIA

ALCOHOLIC DRINKS IN MALAYSIA

Malaysia is a Muslim country and therefore alcohol is not available at many Malay restaurants. Beer is widely available at Chinese restaurants, however, and beer, alcohol and wine are widely available at Western-style hotels, bars and restaurants. The most popular brands of beer are Anchor, Tiger and Carlsberg. Imported wine and whiskey are expensive.

The Malaysian government banned the advertising of liquor, wine and beer in accordance with Islamic prohibition of alcohol. Some Islamic leaders have called for a nationwide ban of alcohol. Malaysia has sharia courts which occasionally impose caning sentences to male Muslims caught drinking alcohol or committing adultery.

Beer consumption in Malaysia is 11 liters annually per capita. Beer is available at Chinese-owned restaurants and hotels. Tanquery based its recipe for Malacca gin on spices collected in the 1800s.

Due to Malaysian licensing laws, the sale of alcoholic beverages is limited to Non-Muslims at Refreshment Outlets, such as Coffee Shops, Restaurants and Food Courts; or Night Entertainment Outlets, as Pubs, Karaoke, Clubs, Beer Gardens and Late-Opening Restaurants. Unlike many developed countries, in Malaysia the majority of alcohol consumption occurs on premises. The 60 percent of the population that is Malay and Muslim is reputed not to drink, as opposed to the Indian and Chinese minorities.

According to USA Today: “Alcoholism has become a more significant health threat throughout Malaysia, as even government officials have recognized that alcohol consumption is a serious health problem. In the past, WHO has also focused on alcohol problems related to public health in Malaysia. As a result, many nonprofit organizations and NGOs within Malaysia have campaigned against alcohol and tried to push for a more aggressive national alcohol policy. This includes monitoring alcohol and liquor companies' advertisements and promotions. Although direct advertising, such as on billboards or television commercials, related to alcohol is illegal in most of the country, liquor companies have used other tactics, such as sponsored events and aggressive campaigns, to target consumers.”

Between 1994 and 1997, the importation of wine in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia almost doubled. It is believed that the majority of buyers were Chinese who had been persuaded that red wine especially was good for one's health.

Malaysia Ranked World’s 10th Largest Consumer of Alcohol

In may 2011, the World Health Organisation (WHO) named Malaysia as the world’s 10th largest consumer of alcohol despite its small population and size and large number of Muslims. According to WHO statistics, Malaysians spent over$5000 million on alcohol with a per capita consumption of seven litres. [Source: Christina Tan, The Star, May 23, 2011]

Christina Tan wrote in The Star, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Heng Seai Kie said the problem of alcohol consumption in the country was getting serious. “Alcohol is not only causing a lot of health issues but is also contributing to a significant number of accidents,” she said here yesterday. Heng was speaking to reporters after launching booklets and seminars on “Promote Healthy lifestyle: Reduce Alcohol Harm” organised by the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).She said the ministry, through the National Population and Family Development Board, would hold a campaign to create awareness on the danger of alcohol abuse.

Seminars conducted in Mandarin, Malay, English and Tamil were hedl and were aimed mostly at those from the Chinese and Indian communities, which had a high alcohol abuse rate. “The public has to understand that alcohol is not part of our culture and it will bring harm if it is abused,” she said. KLSCAH secretary-general Yong Yew Wei said the Road Safety Council estimated that drinking and driving caused 30 percent of road accidents nationwide, with 38 percent of these resulting in fatalities. “A study also shows that absenteeism from workplace among alcoholics is 16 times higher than others,” he said, adding that non-governmental bodies played a vital role in promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Beer in Malaysia

Jaz Beer is a pilsner-type rice beer, the first and only brand brewed in Malaysia. It is produced using rice (rather than the usual barley), imported malt, imported hops, and German cultivated yeast. Indian and Chinese minorities have been aggressively targeted by Jaz advertising, with much of their marketing material published in Chinese and the selection of Ethnic Chinese celebrities, as Gillian Chung. [Source: Wikipedia]

Guinness Anchor Berhad (GAB) is a major producer of beer and stout in Malaysia and has been listed on the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia since 1965. Among the brands they produce and market are Tiger Beer, Guinness, Heineken, Anchor Smooth, Anchor Strong, Kilkenny, Anglia Shandy, Malta, Paulaner, Strongbow, and Sol. Guinness Anchor had sales of 1.2 billion ringgit ($339.8 million) in 2008.

Guinness Anchor Berhad (GAB) was incorporated in January 1964 under the name of “Guinness Malaysia Limited”. The Company changed its name to “Guinness Malaysia Berhad” in April 1966 and assumed its present name in November 1989. GAB evolved from the merger of Guinness Malaysia Berhad and Malayan Breweries (Malaya) Sdn Bhd (“MBM”) in 1989, whose parent companies were Guinness Overseas Ltd and Malayan Breweries Ltd (the present Asia Pacific Breweries Limited) respectively. The merger in 1989 saw a new joint venture company, GAPL Pte Ltd as the holding company of GAB whilst MBM became a dormant wholly owned subsidiary of GAB. GAB operates the Sungai Way Brewery which started operations in 1965. Located in Selangor, the brewery occupies a land area of 23.72 acres (96,000 influenced ).

For a time Malaysian conglomerate Lion was Malaysia’s largest beer producer and owner of Malaysia’s largest steelmaker. In an effort to get rid of a $2.3 billion debt it negotiated with San Miguel to sell some of it 11 Chinese breweries and other assets.

Palm Wine

Palm wine is made from the fresh juice obtained from the blossom of the coconut, palm or sugar-palm, which can be made into sugar. The drink is known as tuak (in Sarawak), toddy (English), bahar (Kadazan/Dusun) and goribon (Rungus). This drink is common in various parts of Asia and Africa, and goes by various names.

The sap is extracted and collected by a tapper. Typically the sap is collected from the cut flower of the palm tree. A container is fastened to the flower stump to collect the sap. The white liquid that initially collects tends to be very sweet and non-alcoholic before it is fermented. An alternate method is the felling of the entire tree. Where this is practiced, a fire is sometimes lit at the cut end to facilitate the collection of sap. [Source: Wikipedia]

On the one hand, production of palm wine may have contributed to the endangered status of some palm species such as the Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis). On the other hand, palm wine production by small holders and individual farmers may promote conservation as palm trees become a source of regular household income that may economically be worth more than the value of timber sold.

Model Sentenced to Caning for Drinking Beer in a Malaysian Bar

In an unprecedented case that grabbed world headlines in 2009, Muslim model and mother of two, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, was sentenced to six lashes of the cane after she was caught drinking beer at a beach restaurant. She pleaded guilty and did not appeal her sentence, but the punishment was halted at the last minute following an uproar in the media and among rights activists. Kartika's sentence was later commuted to community service after an uproar from rights groups, but three other women were quietly caned under Islamic laws for having sex out of wedlock.

Associated Press reported: “Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, said that she asked Malaysian authorities to punish her in public instead of in a prison, but they refused to go against official procedures. Shukarno is scheduled to be the first woman in this Muslim-majority country to be flogged under Islamic law after she was arrested in a raid and sentenced by a sharia court for drinking alcohol at a hotel lounge last year. "I want to send a message that I really regret what I did, so I want to be punished in front of other people," Kartika said from her northern home state of Perak. "If other Muslims can see me being caned, I hope it will convince them not to drink." [Source: Associated Press, August 20, 2009 |::|]

“Authorities insisted Kartika will not feel much physical pain because the rattan cane will be smaller and lighter than the one for men, and its purpose was to "educate" rather than punish. Her penalty has led to criticism by some politicians and women's rights activists who say it is still too harsh. The law provides for a three-year prison term and caning for Muslims caught drinking, but most offenders are fined. Drinking is legal for non-Muslims. |::|

“Kartika said officials indicated she might have to stay inside the prison for several days ahead of the caning, but she will be separated from the regular inmates. "I feel relieved. I was not afraid of the caning, but I was afraid of the environment in the prison. Now they said they will make me comfortable, so I'm satisfied," she said, adding thatshe had explained the matter to her seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. "They both don't really understand, but my daughter told me, 'Mama, you must be strong.' Now I feel brave but sad that this is not only a punishment for me but for my family," she said. |::|

In 2010, Kartika was ordered to carry out community service in a children’s home rather than be caned. "I have very mixed feelings. I was shocked because this was unexpected," Kartika said. Associated Press reported: “ She received a letter from the Pahang state Islamic department informing her that the state's sultan had decided to spare her the caning and instead ordered her to do three weeks of community service. Many people had condemned the punishment, saying it shows conservative Islamists are gaining influence over the justice system. The former model said she felt "tortured" while waiting to be caned and now feels the punishment should have been carried out. "But I will follow the sultan's orders," she said, adding that she has already expressed regret for drinking. [Source: Associated Press April 1, 2010 ><]

“Three other Muslim women were caned this year for having sex out of wedlock, becoming the first Muslim women to be caned. Their cases did not draw as much attention because the caning was kept secret until after it was done. Subsequently, the women appeared before local media and said they deserved the punishment. It was not clear what prompted Sultan Ahmad Shah to commute the sentence, but he could have been influenced by the negative publicity that Malaysia received after the caning sentencing. The sultan is the guardian of Islam in the state and its titular head. Most of Malaysia's 13 states are ruled by sultans who usually play a ceremonial role in governance but have the power to rule in Islamic matters. The sultan's commutation of the sentence followed a meeting last month between Kartika and the Pahang crown prince to discuss her fate after the caning was delayed. It was unclear what occurred at the meeting. ><

“Officials had said the caning would have been very different from the corporal punishment administered to male criminals under secular laws. Drug offenders, kidnappers and others are caned with a thick rattan stick on bare buttocks, breaking the skin and leaving lifelong scars. Kartika's punishment under Islamic laws would have been delivered with a thin cane on the back with her clothes on. Only three states in Malaysia — Pahang, Perlis and Kelantan — impose caning for drinking alcohol. In the other 10 states it is punishable by a fine.” ><

Alcohol Policies in Malaysia

In September 2009, an Islamic court in a Malaysian state ordered an Indonesian Muslim man to be whipped six times and jailed a year for drinking liquor at a restaurant. In July, the same court had sentenced a Malaysian woman to six strokes of the cane and a fine for drinking beer in public. The caning, which would be the first time a Malaysian woman has received the punishment, has not been carried out yet. Many see the sentence as a setback for the country's reputation as a moderate Muslim nation.

Jason Cristiano wrote in USA Today; “In Malaysia, although alcohol is banned in the states of Kelantan and Terengganu, the country's population still consumes an extremely high level of alcohol. Even with the high sales tax rate, alcohol is readily consumed and accessible in many cafes, supermarkets and mini markets throughout the country. At the time of publication, Malaysia does not have a minimum legal drinking age. [Source: Jason Cristiano Ramon, Demand Media, USA Today]

According to Malaysia's Sharia Law, all Malaysian Muslims are forbidden from drinking alcohol. It is also illegal to sell liquor to a Muslim. In the past, laws against drinking have been strictly enforced, and the punishments -- which include caning -- for Malaysian Muslims caught drinking is severe and not without controversy. A legal ban has long been a highly fraught issue between the country's conservative Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, which frequently pushes for strict alcohol bans in Muslim-dominated neighborhoods, and the ethnically Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party, which oppose such bans.

The legal limit for alcohol in the bloodstream while driving in Malaysia is 80 milligrams per deciliter, or 100 milliliters. If you're arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level over this legal limit, you'll be charged with a significant fine equal to hundreds of U.S. dollars. You might even be jailed for up to six months, even if it's your first offense. Your driving privileges in the country can also be revoked

In order to serve any type of liquor or alcohol in Malaysia, vendors, restaurants and retailers need a license. As retailers do not need a license to sell beer in cans, cafes and other vendors often sell beer and provide bottle openers so customers can drink at the cafe. Although serving beer on the premise without a license is illegal, coffee houses and vendors routinely do this throughout the country.

Section 32(1) and 33(1) of Malaysia's 1976 Excise Act Law requires that all vendors, retailers, shops and restaurants have a license to sell liquor. The license must also state where the sale is being made. However, illicit "moonshine" alcohol, such as "samsu," "tuak" or "toddy," is usually easily accessible, cheap and sold throughout the country.

Muslims Party on Despite Religious Crackdown

In July 2010, AFP reported: “Muslim model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 33, was sentenced to six lashes of the cane for drinking beer in 2009. Dusk has fallen and the party is just beginning for 29-year-old Asyikin, one of the many young Malay Muslims who hang out in Kuala Lumpur's vibrant Bukit Bintang nightlife district. A morality crackdown has seen Malaysian Islamic authorities hand out caning and jail sentences for illicit drinking and sex, and launch raids on homes and clubs in the glare of media flashlights. But for Asyikin, a petite and attractive business executive dressed in a knee-length skirt and strappy high heels, the campaign hasn't dampened her party mood. "I couldn't care less, I'm partying. Religion to me is a personal thing," she says as she sips a glass of whisky and greets other regulars at the bars and restaurants that line the narrow streets. [Source: AFP, July 26, 2010]

Malays, who make up 60 percent of the population, are forbidden to have sex out of wedlock or drink alcohol under the Sharia legal system which runs in parallel to the civil courts in Malaysia. Despite some highly publicised cases, every weekend Kuala Lumpur's top clubs are packed with fashionably dressed youngsters including Muslim Malays -- many offspring of the nation's elite -- socialising and drinking openly. "I'm a bit more wary after all these cases but it doesn't really affect my mood to go out and party," says Muaz Omar, a civil servant who goes to pubs with friends to watch live band performances. "People who drink still do go out because even private parties at home are subjected to raids, there is no longer a safe haven," says the 35-year-old, who adds that he does not drink himself. "The religious authorities should not be a moral police. In the religion, if it's a private matter, then it should be a private thing. There must be a rethinking of the way they act."

The crackdown has fuelled debate over rising "Islamisation" of the multi-ethnic nation, and rights groups have urged religious authorities to stop acting as morality police. "We don't agree with the way they go on, Islam is not about snooping around catching people committing sin," says Ratna Osman, legal manager from leading civil society group Sisters In Islam (SIS). Ratna blasted the raids as a form of rights violation and an intrusion into people's privacy. "Unless that person is a drunkard and started going around committing crime or causing accidents, then yes, you can punish them because they endanger people and their own life," she says. "But if the person commits a sin in a private domain then it is between him and God. If as a Muslim you feel compelled to tell him, it should be done in a compassionate way or to educate them."

Religious authorities defend their actions, saying they are merely carrying out their duty to ensure fellow Muslims stay away from sin. "We don't accept any behaviour that is not condoned by Islam," Che Mat Che Ali, the head of the Islamic affairs department in Kuala Lumpur, tells AFP. "Drinking is a big sin. If you are drunk, you are not in the right state of mind, you yourself will suffer and others may suffer too." "It's not just something between the person and God, we have a duty to advise them."

The department has rounded up nearly 500 individuals in Kuala Lumpur so far this year for offences including drinking and "khalwat", or "close proximity" which bars Muslims from being alone with a member of the opposite sex. Ratna warns that if the crackdown continues it will hurt Malaysia's image as a moderate and progressive Muslim nation. "The outside world looks at us as a country which is leaning towards the Talibanisation of the Muslim community in Malaysia," she says.

But many Malays are unmoved by the ideological debate. "If you ask me whether I am afraid to hang out with my friends like this after all these cases, the answer is no," says Asyikin, who like many of Malaysia's most privileged youngsters went to university abroad -- in Britain. "It's a choice of lifestyle. Some people, they really follow the book (religious teachings) and for some, you are born a Muslim, you can't get out of it," she says as she clinks glasses with a friend.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks in Malaysia

Fruit drinks are plentiful and delicious in Malaysia . They are often served in plastic bags with a straw. Fresh coconuts are refreshing and hygienic. Drink the water with a straw straight from the coconut. Don't let the vendor pour it into a glass, which may be unclean. Sugar cane juice is also good but sometimes unhygienic.

Wongeats reports: Living in an environment where mornings start with 2 hours of soft diffused light and the skin is constantly moisturized from the high humidity and warm temperature, there are some downsides to these pleasant living conditions of tropical Malaysia. Furthermore, the local penchant for rich and spicy dishes does tend to overwork the body system as I experienced this after a few days of indulging in the wonderful irresistible dishes that attack the visitor from all angles. To overcome this “heatiness” that most face as the result of the above, many Malaysians resort to drinks and fruits to cool the system down. With the abundance of fruits everywhere and the amazing variety grown in this tropical climate, one looks forward to the different offerings depending on the growing season.

Malaysians are big tea drinkers. Local tea specialties included ice lemon tea (poured hot over ice and given a generous portion of sugar), and the tarik (hot tea mixed with super sweet condensed milk). The coffee tends to be strong and served with super-sweet condensed milk. Starbuck coffee has become popular among yuppies. Water is often served at meals.

According to onetravel.com: “Malaysia is a country that is known for its unique cuisine, and that includes beverages, namely the sweet kind. Don’t be surprised if Diet Coke isn’t on the menu. If the drink isn’t “give-you-a-cavity” sweet, I honestly don’t think the Malaysians find it worthy.In that case, drinks are commonly spliced with healthy doses of sugar syrup, gula Malacca, or sweetened condensed milk to make them that much better. [Source: onetravel.com]

Common soft drinks include sweetened soya milk, "Fizze Lychee" carbonated drinks, Malaysia is one of the biggest markets for Mecca cola, a soft drink produced in the United Arab Emirates that touts itself as the Islamic alternative to Western soft drinks.

Tea in Malaysia

Malaysians consume 11 million kilograms of tea every year, which works out to about a half kilogram per person. About 7 million kilograms of tea is produced annually in Malaysia. The British custom of tea time is observed in Malaysia, tea plantations cover many hillsides and tea stalls and popular place for men to hang. Tea stall are usually basic and rudimentary: cheap tables, plastic stools and ceiling fans.

According to onetravel.com: “Teh Tarik could be called the national drink. It is tea – typically of the bitter, strong kind – that is mixed with heaps of sweetened condensed milk and then pulled to frothy goodness. “Tarik” actually means “pulled”, so by pouring from one container to another, several times from a height, (or pulling) foam appears on the top of the tea while also being cooled to a drinkable level. Teh tarik can also be served iced. [Source: onetravel.com]

Wongeats reported: “Teh Tarik hails from the South Indian community that used to be served at Roti Canai stalls along with its food offering. It is basically strong local tea (my favorite) that has been mixed with sweet condensed milk and “pulled” until it is frothy and slightly cool enough to be sipped – the tea version of cappuccino. It is an incredible sight to watch someone pouring the steamy tea into another container while “pulling” the tea by lifting the containers away from each other, without spilling a single drop. Just like its coffee counterpart, the top foam makes this drink stand out from its flat version. This is usually drunk at anytime, including late in the night at the night markets. [Source: wongeats, September 2, 2012]

Different Non-Alcoholic Drinks in Malaysia

Kopi o ais is the Malaysian iced coffee. You can get one at a street market for around the equivalent of 30 cents, and sweetened condensed milk is likely to accompany it unless specified otherwise. If you’re hankering for a sugar kick, let it come naturally. I recommend asking for light milk if you really want something more refreshing and less like dessert. [Source: onetravel.com <>]

Milo Ais is made with the malty breakfast drink, Milo. Malaysians take the love of Milo to another level by offering it in cans, juice boxes and even as an iced (or hot) drink available in markets and restaurants. You can get your Milo iced (Milo Ais) or hot, but iced is usually a good idea in this hot climate. <>

Limau Ais: What better way to cool down in a searing hot day in Malaysia than with an iced lime juice drink, limau ais? The drink is the perfect mix of sweet and tangy being just fresh lime juice, water, ice and a sugar syrup mix. If you love lemonade, then limau ais is the next best thing in Malaysia. <>

Nutmeg Juice: Nutmeg is a unique fruit that most of the world would not associate with juice. From day one in Penang, we heard about the health properties of drinking nutmeg juice, but only twice a week as suggested by our taxi driver (any more than that would be bad for the body). It is supposed to help make your blood less appealing to mosquitoes as well, which is a major bonus given the amount of bites I already have on my legs. You can get nutmeg juices in local Penang wet markets and food courts. <>

1) Leong Soi is a hideous witches-brew-looking drink. My grandmother used to boil this drink consisting of various dried leaves and stems that produce a slightly bitter dark herbal drink that I would sip often when it was too hot or when my system was overtaxed by the rich food. Grandma was well-versed in Chinese herbal medicine since she had to rely on such cures during times when visiting doctors were financially unfeasible during the meager war years. I am glad my auntie boiled this large pot since I must have consumed most of this in just a mere two days! I did indeed feel much better after. [Source: wongeats, September 2, 2012 ^^^]

Yeen Mai Soi/Barley Drink is made by boiling whole barley pearls until most of the starch has leached into the liquid, leaving a slightly thick drink. Sugar is added to sweeten it and lime juice to lighten it. Served with ice, it is the perfect order when visiting a coffeeshop as in this case, the reputable Lai Fong Coffeeshop near Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur. It may appear quite heavy due to the starch but amazingly it does a wonderful job cooling the system especially when served with lots of ice. ^^^

Leong Fun/Grass Jelly Drink is a dark drink and coffeeshop favorite that consists of a jelly made from grass jelly and mixed with a slightly sweetened iced water. The jelly is made by boiling slightly oxidized stems and leaves of a plant, member of the mint family, along with a coagulant, and then allowed to cool into a jelly form. It is slightly bitter and herbal which is balanced by the sugary water. It can be found in most coffeeshops and it is another must order when dealing with the tropical heat. ^^^

Sheen Kam Soi/Lime Drink is a potent drink is made with lots of lime juice as well as Vitamin C. It is made with the local Kalamansi lime which is small yet packs a punch in its juices but not too sour as Key limes, the one used to make Key lime pies. It has a slight bitterness from its tough skin that balances the tart flavors. To enhance the flavors, a dried salted plum is added as the piece de resistance and the ultimate sour and salty treat in this drink.

Malaysia's "Kopitiam" Revival

In November 2007, Malaysiakini reported: “ Move over Starbucks. Traditional Malaysian "kopitiam" are making a comeback, serving cups of local-style brew and traditional fare as Malaysians discover a taste for nostalgia. Kopitiam -- the word means "coffee shop" in the Hokkien dialect of ethnic Chinese in Malaysia -- were originally found in shophouses in villages and towns across the country, serving up coffee and breakfast. Usually crowded, noisy and rather grimy, they were popular places to grab a quick drink and cheap street food. [Source: Malaysiakini, November 30, 2007 /*\]

“Modern kopitiams have retained the old-fashioned marble-topped tables, wooden chairs and chunky crockery, but now they are to be found in the cavernous air-conditioned shopping malls of the capital Kuala Lumpur. And with their thick brewed "kopi," they are holding their own against the cappuccinos and macchiatos offered by foreign coffee chains that exploded onto the Malaysian scene in the late nineties. /*\

“City-dwellers are rediscovering kopitiam fare such as soft-boiled eggs eaten with soya sauce and a dash of pepper, and bread toasted over a charcoal fire and slathered with salted butter and kaya, a rich coconut and egg jam. "I grew up with this. This is very nostalgic for me," said Maran Subramaniam as he sipped a cup of aromatic kopi and munched on kaya toast at Old Town White Coffee outlet in downtown Kuala Lumpur. "The coffee is cheaper than Starbucks but that's not the only reason. I just like it," said the 31-year-old executive, dressed in a crisp shirt and tie. The new kopitiams also serve local favourites such as nasi lemak, a coconut flavoured rice with a fiery sambal or chilli paste, fried anchovies and egg on the side, and laksa -- noodles in a spicy broth. /*\

“One popular kopitiam chain is Kluang Station which in the past two years has opened four outlets around suburban Kuala Lumpur, as well as one in southern Malacca. The chain is based on the famous coffee shop at the railway station in Kluang town in southern Johor state, opened in 1938 by the great-grandfather of the chain's owner Phun Jun Jee. Phun credits his grandfather with maintaining the heritage of the original shop, where the family patriarch worked from the age of eight, and which is now in the hands of the third generation, Phun's uncle. /*\

“The coffee served at Kluang Station is made with beans roasted and ground the same way it has always been prepared. "We make coffee the traditional way. The coffee beans are roasted with sugar and fat in the form of butter. It makes the drink smoother," Phun said. The kaya at Kluang Station is also from a recipe handed down by his grandfather. "My granddad used to make kaya in an old milk can and he would stir it over the fire and that's all the kaya he would use in one day," Phun said. "Now, my kaya production has come up to four drums every three days. Each drum uses about 1,500 eggs. It has gone from a small amount in a tin can to enough to fill your bathtub." /*\

“Phun has also tried to recreate the atmosphere of the original kopitiam at the train station. "I took almost everything I could capture from the original colonial train stations -- the wire mesh windows, the station sign boards, the wood finish. I brought Kluang out of Kluang into Kuala Lumpur," he said. As nostalgia fans the growth of modern kopitiams, some of the old coffee shops remain but no longer play a significant role in society -- except in small towns far from Malaysia's glittering capital. This correspondent's father, who as a child had helped his own father run a kopitiam in the 1940s in Taiping in northern Perak state, has lived in Kuala Lumpur for almost 40 years. "The new kopitiams are for the young people. The atmosphere at these modern kopitiams is different. It doesn't give a sense of nostalgia for old timers like us," Loh Thiam Ghee said. Phun has plans to expand but says he will stick to urban areas. Three more Kluang Station outlets are due to open by year-end. "I don't intend to go very far from Kuala Lumpur and I think there is a large untapped market. Coffee, eggs and kaya are actually in the DNA of Malaysians," he said. /*\

Coke to Invest $302 Million in Malaysia, Open New Plant

In March 2010, Coca-Cola said it would build a new bottling plant in Malaysia and invest $302 million over the next five years to boost growth in the Southeast Asian market. Eileen Ng of Associated Press wrote: “The investment comes as the world's largest soft drink maker gets ready to end its franchise with a local bottler after sales remained stagnant over the years. Coca-Cola Co. is expected to let its decades-long contract with a unit of Singapore's Fraser and Neave expire in September 2011. The contract, which covers mainly the bottling and distribution of Coca-Cola and Sprite brands, was worth 421 million ringgit ($127 million) a year.[Source: Eileen Ng, Associated Press, March 16, 2010]

Glenn Jordan, president of the company's Pacific Group, said in an interview with The Associated Press that a third of the investment will be invested in an eco-friendly plant on a 30 acre (12 hectare) site in the southern state of Negeri Sembilan. The rest will be plowed into sales and merchandising assets, product innovation and marketing to beef up the company's presence in Malaysia, where the annual per capita consumption of Coca-Cola is well below that of many countries in the region, he said. The plant is expected to be operational by mid-2011, he said. "This investment will enable us to support our core brands, Coca-Cola and Sprite, enhance our competitive edge and increase our geographic coverage," he said.

Jordan said Malaysian investors have 15 percent stake in the new bottling facility, with the Armed Forces Fund Board holding a 10 percent stake and private firm AAD Equity, led by former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, 5 percent. The investment will directly create 600 to 800 new jobs at the bottling plant, and is expected to create between 6,000 and 8,000 jobs with local suppliers, he said.

Jordan said Coca-Cola's move to end its franchise with Fraser and Neave was an "amicable separation" as both companies have different growth strategies. He said growth in Malaysia's nonalcoholic beverage market has been relatively slow at between 4 and 6 percent over the last five years, compared to double-digit growth in some other regional markets. He attributed this to a lack of aggressive competition and insufficient diversity in the product range. "We are here to revolutionize the way we sell our products. We see a lot of opportunities here," Jordan said. He declined to give growth targets but said the company aims to achieve "healthy growth" and be more competitive in Malaysia.

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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