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Page last updated at 09:09 GMT, Friday, 24 June 2005 10:09 UK

Malaysia 'addicted' to herb food

By Jonathan Kent
BBC, Kuala Lumpur

Opium poppies, Afghanistan, 19/04/2005
Mr Mohamad says the food is laced with opium poppy seeds

A Malaysian MP has accused the country's Indian Muslim restaurateurs of lacing their food with habit-forming herbs.

Mohamad Said Yusof told parliament patrons of what are known as Mamak restaurants had been fooled into thinking the food was simply tasty.

But in reality they had become addicts, he said.

Earlier this year Malaysia announced plans to send its most popular Indian Muslim dishes into orbit.

Most saw it as a patriotic if eccentric gesture. Now, though, some suspect that it may truly be space food.

Opium injection

Mr Mohamad, an MP in Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's party, says the food is laced with opium poppy seeds - known as kas kas in Malay, and used legally by chefs around the world.

He told parliament that it had become the norm for young Malaysians to hang out in Mamak restaurants into the small hours of the morning.

He believes they and many others have become addicted to the food and he called for kas kas to be banned.

However, Mr Mohamad stopped short of demanding that offending restaurant owners be locked up under Malaysia's Internal Security Act.

That is normally the first cry of any government supporter who spots even the smallest potential threat to national security.

The controversial law allows suspects to be locked away indefinitely without charge or trial. And in Malaysia, most would agree that few things threaten the country's well-being as much as tampering with its favourite food.

SEE ALSO
Malaysians plan Asian space food
09 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific

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