5 Brands That Had Been With Malaysians For 56 Years & Counting

Malaysia Day

By Julia Koh & Syira Junaidi
September 2019
This year on 16th September, Malaysia will turn 56 years old as we celebrate the federation’s unification with Sabah & Sarawak. While 31st August is an important date signifying independence, Malaysia Day is a date where we celebrate all 14 states that make up the Malaysia we know today.
Malaysia was practically unknown to the world in the 1950s or ’60s. We were merely raw rubber and tin exporters working under foreign brand names. But as the decades went by, local brands started to step up on the global stage and made their presence and their country known.

The Respected Elders: Otai Brands

‘Otai’ brands are senior brands that are pioneers or leaders in their industry. Otai brands had stood the test of times and been around long enough to deserve our admiration and respect. Here are 5 brands that have been with Malaysians for 56 years and beyond:
  1. Lingham’s

    In 1908, Mr. Lingham from Butterworth, Penang concocted a condiment sauce that might suit the taste palettes of British settlers at the time. The sauce used fresh chillies, salt, and vinegar and was sweet and not too spicy, unlike the traditional sambal belacan. It was well-received by both local and foreign customers. By the end of World War 2 in 1945, Lingham’s had become a famous brand and even began exporting to Great Britain. 110 years later, Lingham’s chilli sauce is still a Malaysian favourite for its unique balance between sweet and spicy.

  2. Claytan

    Claytan’s history began with Mr. Tan Soon Heng, a Teochew native who started a small ceramics shop in 1920. As the family business grew, their ceramic products got better and more diverse. Today, nearly 100 years later, Claytan is a pioneer ceramic manufacturer and seller in the country with over 70% of their goods exported overseas. With their brand Claytan Signature, the company continues to maintain high brand value and prestige in the local and global market.

  3. Nyan Yin

    We all ate this brand of peanuts at some point, right? With their iconic ‘thumbs up’ logo, Ngan Yin has been a part of Malaysian snacking culture since 1945. What began as a small peanut farm in Perak is now an internationally-recognised brand with diversified products and advanced production methods.

  4. Tan Chong Motors

    As Malaysia (or Malaya back then) was on the verge of independence, two brothers from the Tan family started a partnership in 1957. They were the sole distributor of Nissan and Datsun cars, the first Japanese cars to be sold in Malaysia. As the business grew, the partnership turned into a limited company listed on the stock exchange. In 2017, the company celebrated its one millionth assembled Nissan vehicle. Today, Tan Chong has factory plants and operations in multiple ASEAN countries, making them a top automotive brand in the region.

  5. UAC Berhad

    UAC was formed the year Malaysia became a unified nation in 1963. The company supplied construction materials and developed innovative products to provide high-quality timber alternatives that are sturdy, weather-resistant yet sophisticated. In 2012, UAC was privatised and bought by Bousted Holdings. UAC’s line of products continue to be exported worldwide and used widely in residential, commercial and government projects.

Honourable Mentions: Gempak Brands

Let’s not forget other Malaysian brands that might not be that otai, but are highly successful nonetheless. These brands are well-received domestically and abroad, exporting to faraway continents and bringing the Malaysian name with them. We call them ‘gempak’ to describe a really awesome brand that we look up to.
  1. Jimmy Choo – shoes and high fashion
  2. Air Asia – world-renowned, industry-disrupting low-cost carrier
  3. Bonia – bags and high fashion
  4. Akemi – home and living
  5. Getha – beddings and mattresses
  6. Munchys – Johor-based biscuits and snacks
  7. MAMEE – how could we forget this Melaka-based noodle snack we grew up with?
All 5 otai and 7 gempak brands showed us that Malaysia can build great brands whose products are loved both at home and abroad. Whether it’s through decades of consistent performance, or through quality and innovative products and services, we believe Malaysian brands are able to make our country proud. We have the honour of working with some of these brands and we are proud to have all of them with us.

Happy Malaysia Day from everyone at Brand360!