Seems all people talk about these days is nasi lemak. And almost everyone who loves the dish will have something to say about their favourite version. So, too, goes for the kind of nasi lemak that you wear.
If you haven’t heard by now, Miss Universe Malaysia 2017 is going to be draped in our unofficial national breakfast for the pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Seeing how Malaysians are so passionate about food, everyone has suddenly become a learned critic overnight. Netizens have gone to town with their comments and opinions – quite a few unflattering ones, not to mention denigratory, too.
Here’s the thing: What was once a predictable, subdued national costume competition has turned into an eye-popping challenge to come up with the most bizarre and outlandish outfit. The one who accomplishes that, while managing to embody what her country stands for, wins.
That’s no mean feat considering how a designer has to capture a country’s rich heritage and culture, as well as its iconic landmarks and nature’s attributes, all within a cut of the cloth. And our gown is nowhere near as ludicrous as some of the costumes we’ve seen on other contestants.
At the last Miss Universe pageant, Miss Germany had a castle on her head, Miss Sweden hoisted a cardboard horse, and Miss Myanmar had a series of levers that opened a red curtain to show off a stunning backdrop of temples and wildlife – all while playing a marionette on a string.
Frankly, I feel the nasi lemak gown is more palatable – excuse the pun – than last year’s Twin Towers. I’d also wager that it’ll look safe and practically boring next to the other over-the-top costumes.
The idea and concept behind it is brilliant. While one may argue that the execution is debatable – after all , design is subject to interpretation – food is a uniting factor for Malaysians. We love to eat and the iconic nasi lemak is about as Malaysian as it gets.
“Nasi lemak is a uniquely Malaysian dish that most Malaysians love, which is why we have chosen it as a national costume to represent the country in the pageant,” said Brian Khoo, the designer behind the nasi lemak gown. “I believe we should all focus on the positive. Do join me in sending our support to Samantha this coming 66th Miss Universe competition.”
The gown took 400 hours of craftsmanship and a month to complete. Love or hate it, it has already created quite a ruckus. If it does the same at the pageant, even if Miss Malaysia doesn’t win, it’ll certainly give a boost to our Malaysian cuisine!
Rather than focusing on how the egg or sambal could have been differently placed, think about the gorgeous Samantha Katie James who will be putting her best food… I mean foot… forward to represent our country. And instead of hurling mean and nonconstructive criticism, she deserves our vote of confidence and support.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) November 6, 2017
Another thing that has been going viral is the #MeToo campaign, denouncing sexual assault and harassment. Coined by social activist and community organiser Tarana Burke in 2006, the phrase gained momentum recently in the light of accusations against Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. It has since opened international floodgates as women all over the world step forward to share their experiences, promoting dialogue and addressing the issue.
Other hashtags are also being generated such as #HowIWillChange and #BalanceTonPorc (or DenounceYourPig) in response. Some quarters feel hashtag activism is too easy and lacking real mobilisation, as it doesn’t take much for someone to put up #MeToo in a Facebook or Instagram profile without being committed to a cause.
But any awareness and dialogue about a problem is better than none at all. It serves as a good reminder to young girls that no one should have to put up with sexual harassment or abuse, and it is not your fault. If it makes it easier for women to speak up the next time they are being harassed, then a simple #MeToo has achieved something.
It’s just two months till the end of the year. While beauty pageants and other smaller controversies distract us, bigger issues are brewing – politically and economically. Speculation is rife over the coming General Election, the recent Budget 2018 announcement was disappointing as many forecasts and items on the wish list did not materialise, and religious extremism is getting louder, locally and abroad.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just stay focused on the things that matter and speak in one voice, instead of getting all riled up over inconsequential stuff?