Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mohamad has his own ways with plants and fruits.
In visits to Sudan in the early stages of his first run as PM, he brought back Roselle seeds. It was a gambit and it paid off for Malaysian entrepreneurs.
The extracts from the Roselle or Hibiscus Sabdariffa became a popular drink in Malaysia. The plant adapted to the conditions in Malaysia, which was Dr Mahathir’s initial challenge.
Entrepreneurs lined up to grow the plant and Roselle juice or tea factories bloomed across Malaysia. At its peak, there were various brands of ‘Roselle’ tea and syrup. Some restaurants used the roselle syrup as an alternative to local syrups such as the famous ‘sirap susu’ or milk syrup.
The Roselle is a species of Hibiscus probably native to West Africa,
This time around, Dr Mahathir sparked interest in Turkish fruits, such as the apricot and cherry.
He says he can’t stop eating both when they are within his sight. The PM made public his liking for apricots and cherries, specifying the ones from Turkey.
“I cannot stop myself eating the apricot or the cherries if they are served,” he was quoted as saying by Berita Harian.
Dr Mahathir is on an official visit in Turkey, meeting with President Recip Erdogan and discussing business and other matters in Ankara.
He also lauded Turkey as an arms maker, saying he appreciated Turkey’s willingness to offer opportunities for technology transfer in the field of “aerospace and defence industries”.
Such opportunities should be grabbed by Malaysia, he says, adding that Turkey has achieved extraordinary success in the “aerospace industry” within a short period of time and it was something outstanding.
Nevertheless, Dr Mahathir’s interest in apricot and cherries may spark another wave of ‘entrepreneurship’ rush for these products. Some Twitter users are already asking the prime minister for contacts in Turkey to bring these products to Malaysia.