Siblings still make cooling powder the old way


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 08 Oct 2017

BALIK PULAU: For over 40 years, bedak sejuk (cooling powder) maker Yeoh Keng Beng took no shortcuts churning out the traditional homemade powder.

From his humble family home in Kuala Jalan Bharu here, Yeoh took pride in the tedious work to produce the tiny beads of powder made from chemical-free broken rice.

The trade is now in the hands of his son Siong Huat, 40, who along with his two brothers, Seong Chin, 38, and Seong Heng, 42, are determined to continue their father’s legacy after he passed away aged 78 in December last year.

Seong Chin said his father started the business under Perniagaan Bedak Sejuk Lean Seng in the 1970s.

“My father used his bare hands in every process involving the making of bedak sejuk. My brothers and I will continue with this traditional way of making the powder, even though many people had suggested using machines to increase production to meet growing demand.

“We feel that our bedak sejuk will lose its traditional appeal if we resort to machines. Making bedak sejuk the traditional way is a dying trade and we want to be the ones to keep the tradition alive.

Traditional goodness: Siong Huat preparing bedak sejuk beads to be dried. The beads are then packed in bottles (inset) for distribution.
Traditional goodness: Siong Huat preparing bedak sejuk beads to be dried.

 

“In these modern times, more and more people are looking for homemade, handmade and traditional items. They find novelty in things made traditionally because these things are now a rarity,” he said when met at his home here yesterday.

Seong Chin said his father learnt the art of making bedak sejuk from his paternal grandmother.

“Back then, it was quite common for our forefathers to make their own bedak sejuk to use. The freshly-made bedak sejuk is known for its cooling effects and can make the skin smooth and fair.

“It was only much later that bedak sejuk was sold in the market because it was more convenient for people to buy than to make it themselves.

“My father started off as a fisherman before venturing into making bedak sejuk. At the same time he was making the powder, he was also a pig farmer and in the belacan-making business.

The beads of bedak sejuk (cooling powder) that have already been packed into glass bottles.WAN MOHIZAN WAN HUSSEIN / The Star/7 Oct 2017
The beads are packed in bottles for distribution.

“It was only in the mid 1990s that he went into the bedak sejuk business on a full-scale basis and dropped all his other ventures,” he said.

Seong Chin said with the hot weather, they are able to produce between 200kg and 300kg of bedak sejuk a month.

“If it rains, production will be low because it will take a longer time to dry them. We still use the traditional way of drying the powder beads under the sun.

“The beads of bedak sejuk are then packed into 95gm, 170gm or 250gm glass bottles before they are distributed to retailers nationwide,” he said.

Seong Chin said he and his brothers grew up helping their father make bedak sejuk.

“We observed how our father made the powder and learnt from him.

“My brother Siong Huat has taken over the business while Seong Heng and myself help him on a part-time basis as we have our own day jobs,” he said.

 

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