Apart from the state’s heritage, street food is where Penang’s real comparative advantage lies.
Take a pinch of political will and a small cup of money (to spruce up our act) – and you could rustle up a little stimulus that would really spread the multiplier effect across a wide base of people.
Think of the number of people you know – both local and foreign – who come to Penang to check out its food. Penang is already recognised globally as a street food haven. In fact, the first thing most seasoned visitors to Penang want to do as soon as they arrive is to sample its many culinary delights – from char koay teow and laksa to satay and cendul.
In the same way, can you think of the number of Malaysians who may have emigrated but still pine for the street food ‘back home’ especially in Penang?
Penang street food could be an even greater revenue earner for Penang than it already is now if we clean up our act in terms of upholding basic hygiene standards and some organisation without compromising on its authentic street identity. Cleaner surroundings – but not sterilised, sanitised or gentrified – while maintaining a sense of culture, identity, community and place (along the streets as opposed to inside a shopping mall) would go a long way.