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‘Little Myanmar’ in Penang

Common element: A poster of Suu Kyi gracing the wall of a shop along ‘Little Myanmar’ area in Komtar, Penang

Publication Date : 19-07-2012


A place called "Little Myanmar" is thriving at a segment of Komtar, which is brimming with shops and cafes offering all kinds of products ranging from handicraft to services.

Located on Level Two of the old annexe, the area has become a meeting point for the close-knit, local Myanmar community, where they can catch up with their countrymen as well as obtain products from home.

Convenience store manager Htun Htun, 28, said about 30,000 Myanmar workers live and work in Penang.

“The central location of Komtar makes it easily accessible to them. We bring in products from back home, especially the traditional items,” he said, pointing to snacks like lat fat (pickled tea leaf salad) and betel leaves.

Lat fat, he said, is a popular snack when one feels lazy to cook a proper meal.

Htun’s shop also stocks traditional garments and Indonesian batik, which many Myanmar women like to buy as they are cheaper here in Malaysia.

"We also have Myanmar newspapers to keep our community updated of developments back home," he added.

A nearby Internet cafe caters to those like Addie Ng, 25, and friend Julie Ko, 24, who spent their off day chatting online with friends and family back in Myanmar.

Ng, who has been working as a waiter in George Town for five years, said "Little Myanmar" was a great convenience as they can get all they need in one location.

A common element at all the shops are images of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi, whom they all look up to with reverence.

Travel agent Zey Ya, 27, said travel packages to Myanmar are popular among Malaysians at his office, located nearby. Many visit his agency to apply for visas, arrange ground tours and hotel bookings.


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