‘Nasi Lemak Pondan’ seller gives people food for thought


KUALA LUMPUR: “Pondan”, a derogatory term used on men who appear effeminate, is probably not the worst thing Jojie Kamaruddin has been called.

There are many, she revealed, who believed that she and her kind should be rightfully condemned by society.

While it upsets her, she’s not angry and has come to accept that such abuse is something she has to contend with, but not without putting up a decent fight.

In fact, she has capitalised on the slur used to describe transgenders, by selling “Nasi Lemak Pondan” which ironically turned her into something of an internet sensation after pictures of her food stall went viral.

What’s even more fascinating is that despite having opened for business only 10 days ago, Jojie has been deluged by a stream of customers, who have been making a beeline for her stall.

Her nasi lemak comes with the basic condiments of eggs, anchovies and cucumber, and is sold for RM1.80. But the price of a packet can go up to RM4.40 if topped with fried chicken or eggs done sunny side up.

“I want to show people that not all pondans are sex workers. I want them to see that we can make an honest living,” she told FMT.

Many people, Jojie said, ostracised the transgender community.

Transgenders were also often rejected when applying for a job in the public or private sectors, she added and often equated to “negative elements” in society.

Jojie however has taken all these stumbling blocks in stride and has embarked on a quest to change such narrow views.

“Mak Nyahs can do what other men or women can do,” she said using another term often used on transgenders in the community.

And thanks to the internet and an ingenious brand called “Nasi Lemak Pondan” which she herself concocted, Jojie has indeed showed them what she’s made of.

Not all customers however have welcomed her with open arms. There have been detractors aplenty, some of whom claimed the food she prepared was “haram” (prohibited in Islam).

Others however have patronised her stall at Jalan Sri Permaisuri Cheras and have had nothing but good things to say about her nasi lemak.

“I even had a friend in Canada who called to tell me they were prepared to fly all the way to Malaysia to sample my food after news of ‘Nasi Lemak Pondan’ went viral.”

Her success story is even more compelling considering that Jojie, who is a fashion designer and wedding planner by profession, only decided to sell the Malaysian favourite to earn some extra money.

And if “Nasi Lemak Pondan” continues to be in high demand, Jojie plans to open a restaurant, one she promises would be on par with other big restaurants.

For now though, she is happy with operating her stall from 12 noon to 7pm daily.

Jojie is also applying for a business license from Kuala Lumpur City Hall.