Malaysia Night Proves Multiculturalism Is Big Business
For the fourth year running, Malaysia Night 2013 was celebrated at Trafalgar Square in London on 4 October – ‘Pasar Malam’ style.
In Malaysia, the concept of ‘Pasar Malam’ (night market) refers to a collection of stalls that sell foods and goods, set up in the evening and usually located in residential neighbourhoods. Though a typical pasar malam often happens either one or just a few days in a week as traders rotate around different neighbourhoods, the concept had been brought to London for just one night in a year.
Starting at noon right up to 10 pm, the event saw about 25,000 people from all over attend. There were long queues at food stalls set up by 17 different Malaysian restaurants located in the UK, whilst stalls from ethnic supermarkets saw their stocks of sambal paste and curry powder sell faster than hotcakes.
There were also many cultural performances throughout the evening that highlighted the strong sense of harmonious multiculturalism that exists in the Malaysian society. Members of the large dance group Nusantara wore different costumes that represented the diverse ethnicities that make Malaysia, united in song and dance. Celebrity chefs such as Tim Anderson and Ian Pengelley were also present, demonstrating Malaysian cooking to the audience.
Whilst events like these are meant to encourage tourism to Malaysia, the fact that many visitors came to enjoy and take home Malaysian foods and cooking ingredients are significant. It is said that this year alone, 1.3 billion people in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand said they now know more about Malaysia, with 24 percent of them saying they want to eat Malaysian food. In the past three years, 1,000 Malaysian product lines with more than 200 brand names have been brought in to UK through major supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, as well as other stores and ethnic stores in Manchester and Birmingham.