According to The Independent, Prime Minister Najib Razak was recorded on a video at a question and answer session at a hospital last week saying that he does not eat rice anymore.
“I don’t eat rice, I eat quinoa,” he said on the video. “My son introduced me to it. It is better than rice.”
That statement does not seem likely to endear him to voters in Malaysia, where rice is a staple eaten by millions of people every day. Quinoa is also reportedly much more expensive than rice in Malaysia, and the Prime Minister was already facing allegations of corruption and blame for rising costs of living affecting Malaysia. Rice is such a staple in Malaysia that its price was subsidized by the government until 2015, according to The Guardian.
It took no time at all for other politicians to use the Prime Minister’s quinoa comment as a sign that he was out of touch with the people.
“The 14th General Election will be quinoa vs rice; clean government vs kleptocracy; and Najib vs people of Malaysia,” opposition MP Lim Kit Siang told the Malaysian Times.
The opposition’s candidate for Prime Minister, former premier Mahathir Mohamad, took to Twitter to voice his support for rice, and Malaysia’s rice specifically.
“I only eat local rice,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Prime Minister’s office posted on Facebook to say that the Prime Minister eats quinoa on the advice of a doctor, and that it’s just part of a healthy diet regimen. Quinoa is routinely praised as a “superfood” with a host of reported health benefits, here are 13 amazing quinoa recipes for anyone looking to try it.