It was a predictable outcome. When Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, announced during his National Day Rally speech in August 2018 the intention to nominate Singapore’s hawker culture for UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Malaysians were swiftly up in arms.
Across the Johor-Singapore Causeway, Singapore’s UNESCO bid was blasted by some as arrogance, or yet another attempt to claim superiority. In a region of foodies where people have argued over the ownership of all sorts of dishes—from yusheng to cendol—the city-state’s desire for international recognition was interpreted as one more instance of trying to lord it over its closest frenemy.
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