Perspective: Menu Rahmah fosters unity

16 Mar 2023 08:33am
Image for illustrative purposes only. - BERNAMA
Image for illustrative purposes only. - BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR - Five ringgit may seem a small sum to some people but for others like Low Ah Heng it can make a difference to their daily expenses.

The 45-year-old e-hailing driver is grateful for the government’s Menu Rahmah initiative implemented on Jan 31 as it has helped him to eat balanced meals at a reasonably low price of RM5 each as well as cope with the rising cost of living.

Low, a divorcee with three children, earns about RM2,000 a month and also has to care for his ailing mother who lives with him, so he has to be very frugal in his spending.

"People say it’s more economical to cook at home and pack some food for my lunch but I’m usually busy attending to my sick mother’s needs every morning so I’ve no time to cook.

"I used to spend about RM20 to buy two meals for me and my mother comprising rice, vegetables and chicken or fish. But now that Menu Rahmah is available, I can buy two balanced meals for RM10,” he said.

Low said initially after Menu Rahmah was introduced, it was only available at Malay restaurants but of late, eateries serving other cuisines have also jumped on the bandwagon.

"Now I can get the RM5 meals at not only ‘mamak’ restaurants but also Chinese restaurants,” he added.

In Selayang, Selangor, where Low resides, a number of food outlets catering to various communities, including roadside stalls, restaurants and coffee shops or kopitiam, offer Menu Rahmah meals.

Related Articles:

The participation of food operators from various ethnic backgrounds in the initiative has negated claims by certain quarters that the RM5 meal programme has received a lukewarm response from non-Malay eateries.

Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub had said previously that Menu Rahmah has been welcomed by all the communities, adding that Indian food operators were among the first to come forward in support of the initiative.

"It’s not true (the programme is not getting the support of non-Malay operators) because when we proposed the Menu Rahmah idea, the first few to support it were the Indian Muslim traders’ association, Indian restaurant operators and tomyam restaurant operators.

"Hence, there’s no issue of the Menu Rahmah programme not getting the support of all the communities other than the Malays. Let’s not turn this into a racial issue, instead, let’s all practice the ‘Rahmah for all’ concept,” the minister said, adding that Chinese restaurant operators are also keen to offer Menu Rahmah meals for the benefit of their customers.

Universiti Malaya Department of Anthropology and Sociology senior lecturer Major Dr Syed Abdul Razak Sayed Mahadi, meanwhile, told Bernama the issue that Menu Rahmah caters to a certain race only should not arise at all as Malaysians, regardless of race and religion, eat more or less the same food.

"For example, most eateries serve rice-based meals and in Malaysia, rice is our main source of carbohydrates. So, when Malay restaurants serve Menu Rahmah meals, all Malaysians can enjoy it because rice is something we eat daily,” he said.

He also said that with fast-food operators now practising the ‘Rahmah for all’ concept, people from all communities can patronise such outlets and enjoy their offerings together.

Last week fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s Malaysia launched its Menu Rahmah, pricing some of its most popular meals at RM5 each. The company said the move was part of its commitment to help and support Malaysians in coping with the rising cost of living.

Said Syed Abdul Razak: "McDonald’s is a very popular brand and liked by many people, not just the Malays but also Chinese, Indians and people from other ethnic groups. By offering some of its meals at such a low price, students and low-income earners can also enjoy their fast food.” He views the Menu Rahmah programme as an effort by a government that "listens, examines and translates the voice and pulse” of the people that are currently grappling with various challenges.

He said the initiative must be supported by all and expanded to all segments of society in order to create a win-win situation for both restaurant operators and the people.

"When everyone wants to politicise and view it negatively, how will the government be able to implement it successfully? Menu Rahmah is not just for the B40 group but for others as well. Hopefully, the initiative will continue to prevail and is not a temporary measure by the government,” he added. - BERNAMA