Thursday, November 16, 2017

Nostalgia Nasi Lemak Charity Dinner: How Nasi Lemak Can End AIDS

KUALA LUMPUR, 3 November 2017 – Malaysians’ shared love of nasi lemak may just be the thing that will help to end AIDS in this country. At least that is what the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) hopes to achieve with its latest project. 

Continuing its time-honoured tradition of dinner galas and high society fundraisers, the MAF is set to bring an all-new fine dining experience to the proverbial table. 

Nostalgia Nasi Lemak, a nasi lemak-themed charity dinner celebrating the eponymous dish, will offer a first-of-its-kind dinner experience steeped in the nostalgic heritage of Malaysia’s most iconic dish while elevating it to fine dining status – all in support of the fight to end AIDS.

“The idea is to unite people over everyone’s favourite dish while shedding light on a timely issue that affects everyone, specifically the HIV/AIDS situation among women,” said Dato’ Maznah Abdul Jalil, Honorary Treasurer, MAF. 

“The trend of new HIV infections among women is showing no signs of slowing down, despite a 50 per cent reduction in overall new cases in the past decade,” she explained.

More alarmingly, housewives – a social group whose HIV risk was previously thought to be extremely low – constituted one-third of the total 12,578 reported female infections.

“Women face heightened levels of HIV risk simply for being who they are. Gender inequality, shame, stigma, and poverty push women away from otherwise readily available lifesaving HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support,” she added. 
Taking a leaf out of Betty Saw’s cookbook

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Puan Sri Betty Saw (right) dedicates proceeds of the second edition of her 2013 best-selling cookbook Everything Nasi Lemak to the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) for its women's HIV treatment, care, and support programmes. With Dato' Maznah Abdul Jalil, Honorary Treasurer, MAF. 

Nostalgia Nasi Lemak features a multi-course nasi lemak menu especially curated by Puan Sri Betty Saw. She is one of Malaysia’s most influential celebrity chefs and food consultants and the author of more than 20 cookbooks on Malaysian culinary delights. Her newspaper column, From Betty Saw’s Kitchen, has inspired many to open cafes and restaurants using recipes from her books.

In fact, the charity dinner will commemorate the official launch of Everything Nasi Lemak, the second edition of her 2013 best-selling cookbook featuring 75 kitchen-tested side dish recipes – from Nyonya Beef Rendang and Potted Fish Otak-otak to Mushroom Egg Roll and Ayam Pandan – to complement its star attraction, nasi lemak.

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Nasi lemak is called the national dish for a very good reason. Despite our ethnic and cultural differences, most, if not all, Malaysians will agree that nasi lemak is their most beloved local dish,” said Saw.

“I have yet to come across any Malaysian who does not love it.”

She further remarked, “It is this spirit of oneness that inspired me to dedicate this book to a worthy cause.” 

Like the accompanying dinner, proceeds from the book will benefit MAF treatment, care, and support programmes for HIV-impacted women such as psychosocial counselling, health literacy, livelihood support, and vocational skills building.

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“It is unacceptable that women living with HIV remain largely hidden and continue to suffer in silence. As AIDS enters its third decade in Malaysia, it is time to break the silence and empower our women to speak up. I hope my cookbook, through the efforts of the MAF, will give women a voice and a choice, in and out of the kitchen.”

The Swiss-Garden partnership

Stepping up to the plate on this charitable endeavour is Swiss-Garden Hotel & Residences Kuala Lumpur. Offering full sponsorship of the charity dinner, Nostalgia Nasi Lemak will mark the beginning of a long-term social responsibility partnership between Swiss-Garden International Hotels, Resorts & Inns and the MAF. 

“We have seen first-hand the scale and impact of MAF’s work in effecting meaningful change in the lives of people affected by HIV/AIDS,” said Izudin Merican, Group General Manager, Swiss-Garden International Hotels, Resorts & Inns. 

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From left: Bryan Teo, Director of Sales & Marketing, Swiss-Garden Hotel & Residences Kuala Lumpur; Dato' Maznah Abdul Jalil, Honorary Treasurer, Malaysian AIDS Foundation; and Puan Sri Betty Saw.

“Our growth as a business is measured by the impact that we create on the community we serve. The most significant impact that our business can create is helping communities led by the MAF end what is widely considered the biggest threat to public health.

“To this end, we will collaborate with the MAF by providing a platform at all our participating properties for raising funds and increasing awareness, as well as supporting community-driven initiatives towards the common goal of ending AIDS,” he added.

Nostalgia Nasi Lemak Highlights 

Adding resonance to the plight of HIV-impacted women, Nostalgia Nasi Lemak will be officiated by YB Dato' Sri Hajjah Rohani Abdul Karim, Minister of Women, Family and Community Development.

It also promises to be a star-studded affair featuring Red Ribbon Celebrity Supporters the likes of Bob Yusof whose recent comeback on a reality singing show made headlines. Joanne Kam, Malaysia’s undisputed Queen of Comedy, is slated for a cameo appearance. The full celebrity lineup will be announced as soon as details emerge. 

Nostalgia Nasi Lemak will be held on Monday, 20 November 2017 at the Grand Hibiscus Ballroom, Swiss-Garden Hotel & Residences Kuala Lumpur. Tables are priced at RM10,000, RM5,000, and RM3,000, all of which are eligible for tax exemption. Contact Ahmad Arif at 012-9594596 or Hafsah Nizar at 019-4413577 for details and reservations.  

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