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Nasi lemak vending machines a lifeline for the young and busy

The vending machines offer a cheap and handy way to grab a meal on the go.

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
2 minute read
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A customer scrolls through the menu on a vending machine at the Cempaka LRT station, provided by the economy ministry under the People's Income Initiative programme.
A customer scrolls through the menu on a vending machine at the Cempaka LRT station, provided by the economy ministry under the People's Income Initiative programme.

Vending machines selling packets of nasi lemak for RM2 each at several public transportation stations in Kuala Lumpur have been a go-to for the youth working in the capital city.

Launched in early March, the sale of nasi lemak in vending machines is a scheme under the People's Income Initiative programme helmed by the economy ministry.

The process begins with chilli planters giving a portion of their harvest to other B40 entrepreneurs to make sambal, the essential hot and spicy condiment to any serving of nasi lemak.

The nasi lemak is then sold for as low as RM2 at vending machines in public places. 

Long queues seen at several LRT stations around the Klang Valley are an indication that the nasi lemak is well-received by the public.

At the Cempaka LRT station, for instance, a line of men and women can be seen waiting for their turn at a vending machine selling packets of nasi lemak.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Ruziana Azhar said she buys a total of four nasi lemak packets a day; two packets before and after work.

"I have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's cheap and filling, so I don't need to go out at night to find other food. I only need to heat it up," she added.

The 22-year-old who is currently undergoing industrial training at a private company said buying nasi lemak at vending machines is the right choice for her as she needs to save money, adding that she relies on educational loans and a meagre allowance to stay afloat in the city. 

"It's quick; I line up, put my money in, collect my nasi lemak and leave."

Ruziana said she has noticed several public service users buying nasi lemak from the vending machines before taking the LRT to their workplace, adding that this shows that it's not just her who likes to bring packed meals bought from vending machines.

"It's the same even when returning from work. I've seen many people buying nasi lemak in the evenings. Sometimes, it sells out, and I suppose that's when they go looking for other food," she said.

A recent survey by MalaysiaNow found that the RM2 nasi lemak is well-received among various groups, including foreign workers.

Meanwhile, a middle-aged woman known as Hajar hopes that the initiative will be expanded to other locations, including outside the Klang Valley.

The 57-year-old said she has only seen the vending machines at certain places like LRT stations that seem to attract a lot of people.

"It could be because nasi lemak holds a special place in the lives and hearts of Malaysians. 

"It would be good if they also installed nasi lemak vending machines at universities or bus stations. Other people would also get to taste it," she added.

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