KUALA LUMPUR • The founder of Malaysia's best-known satay restaurant, Sate Kajang Haji Samuri, has died.
Datuk Samuri Juraimi, 73, leaves behind 19 restaurants in major towns all over the country which employed some 500 workers.
To his fans, Mr Samuri's grilled skewered meat popularised the name of the Selangor town of Kajang, where he started his first satay stall 25 years ago in 1992.
No one goes to Kajang without stopping by Sate Kajang or the other satay restaurants that have popped up to make satay the town's signature dish.
Kajang is located about half an hour's drive south of Kuala Lumpur, with the ward represented by Selangor assemblyman Wan Azizah Ismail, president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.
Mr Samuri was laid to rest yesterday. He was discharged from hospital five days ago to rest at home, but breathed his last just after midnight yesterday.
His third child, Ms Nor Ilyana Samuri, 37, said her late father had stage four liver cancer.
Mr Samuri's cancer was detected earlier this year after the businessman had gone for a health examination following complaints of abdominal pains. He is survived by his wife and five children.
Sate Kajang restaurants have become "a symbol of community solidarity in Malaysia because not only Malays, but also Indians and Chinese appreciate and enjoy eating" there, said Professor Mohamed Fadzil Che Din from the National Defence University of Malaysia.
He said that in the past few decades, Sate Kajang had lifted the name of the then-small town that was overshadowed by its two bigger neighbours, Bangi and Serdang - well-known university towns in Malaysia.
Today, with the opening of an MRT station near the satay restaurants, thousands of people visit Kajang daily as they do not have to fight over car parking space any more to have a meal.
To celebrate the MRT station's opening on July 17 - just after Hari Raya Aidilfitri - Sate Kajang offered 70,000 sticks of smoky satay for free to entice visitors to stop by. Thousands did.
Said Mr Soo Ah Chai, 75, then: "This is the biggest event I have seen in Kajang."
BERNAMA, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK