KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 ― Transgender woman Jojie Kamaruddin had caused a stir when she opened up a stall called “Nasi Lemak Pondan” last month, leading to public rebukes from several mufti.
Following the uproar, Jojie said she has toned down her appearance by foregoing makeup and feminine outfits such as blouses and baju kurung, in order to keep her business.
“Yes, I no longer apply make-up. If any, just kohl and lip balm. This is my change in appearance after considering criticism and advice from the public for me to look more decent,” Jojie was quoted saying in a report by mStar.
“When I don’t make myself up, people think I look sick. But let it be, I want people to come here to buy nasi lemak, not because how I look.”
Despite that, Jojie was adamant that the name of the stall, located in Bandar Sri Permaisuri, Cheras here, would stay.
The word “pondan” is a pejorative Malay term meaning “transvestite”, but has since been reclaimed by Jojie for a positive cause.
“For me, ‘pondan’ is just a name. I want to change the public’s perception that not all ‘pondan’ trade their bodies or commit vices.
“But they also want to be like others that find ‘halal’ source of income, for example, I sell nasi lemak,” she added, admitting that she has been discriminated in finding work.
On Saturday, Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said Nasi Lemak Pondan should cease promoting itself as such, claiming the use of the name as forbidden in Islam, despite the food being halal.
Kelantan mufti Datuk Mohamad Shukri Mohamad also said that such stall operators should be chastised and educated.
Another controversial stall called “Nasi Lemak GAY” ― an acronym for “Gerai Adi Yusuf” after its owner ― said it will change its name soon, as reported by mStar.
Adi was quoted saying he had received acid splash threats prior to this, in addition to the public criticism.