Apparently santan-rich cuisine such as nasi lemak can increase road accident fatalities, according to the traffic police chief in a report by Oriental Daily.

A total of 199 people were killed during 15 day long Ops Selamat 6, which was held over the Chinese New Year period in February. Of this, 94 victims were Malay, 41 were Chinese, 31 were Indian, 22 were Malaysian of other ethnicities, while the balance 11 were foreigners.

To explain these statistics, the traffic police postulated the different cuisine enjoyed by each ethnicity. Apparently the 47% or so percent of Malay fatalities are because of high calorie food like the santan-rich nasi lemak which tend to cause people to feel sleepy after a meal, while Chinese drivers supposedly didn’t face the same problem with their food.


After eating a meal with high levels of sugars and carbohydrates, our blood sugar level spikes, and this is followed by a drop which results in low energy levels. There’s also the “post-lunch dip”, which is a natural dip in alertness at about 2pm because of our circadian rhythms. This combined with a heavy meal explains why we feel so lethargic after a big banana leaf rice meal.

Bukit Aman traffic police chief Mohd Fuad Abdul Latiff stressed that he was not an expert on the matter and these are just theories based on discussions. He also said that the high Malay victim count could be because of faster driving or a higher percentage of them being motorcyclists.

So there you have it folks. If you want to be safe on the highway, avoid santan at all costs. In all seriousness though, we think nasi lemak is a food that is enjoyed equally by all ethnic groups, and based on Malaysia’s ethnic breakdown, the ratio for the road fatalities seem to match – 50.1% Malay based on 2010 data. So we think this isn’t really an ethnic issue at all.

The good news is Ops Selamat 6 seemed to have worked. There were are an average of 1,300 (fatal and non-fatal) accidents in Malaysia each day throughout 2014, but that figure dropped to 1,100 during the 15-day operation.

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