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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 10:47 GMT
Malaysian troops get six meals a day

By Jonathan Kent
BBC, Kuala Lumpur

Napoleon Bonaparte's adage that an army marches on its stomach has been given new life in Malaysia.

After a major review of its soldiers' diet, the country's defence ministry has announced that they will be given six meals a day.

Food is something of a national obsession in Malaysia but the new ration regime in the Malaysian army might even have Napoleon wondering how much time will be left for marching between meals.

The changes are the result of the first review of army food carried out in 10years.

It concluded that soldiers need more calories.

They currently get breakfast, lunch and dinner but from the beginning of January, the three additional daily snacks soldiers now receive will be replaced by full meals.

Malaysia's Defence Minister Najib Tun Razak said these might feature dishes like biriyani rice and chapatti bread, staples enjoyed by Malaysia's large Tamil community.

Chinese regional dishes and even Thai food could feature, so varied is Malaysia's ethnic make-up.

But since most of the 110,000 members of the armed forces are Malay Muslims, any food served would have to meet strict Islamic guidelines.

Mr Najib jokingly told troops that they would have to watch their body mass index - a polite way of telling them to make sure they do not get fat.

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