GEORGE TOWN, July 31 ― While camping and other group outdoor activities are still prohibited under Phases One and Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), parang maker Ahmad Nadir Askandar is still getting orders from local and international parang dealers and distributors.
Similar to a machete, a parang is used as a tool to clear undergrowth and other general purposes.
Parang craftsman Ahmad Nadir, who is based in Balik Pulau, could not open his workshop due to standard operating procedures (SOPs) under Phase Two of the NRP so he had to make the parangs at home, alone.
Normally he has three other workers, two part-timers and one full-timer, to help him make the parangs at his workshop.
"We would produce between 500 and 600 pieces per month for our international orders and we could also meet our local orders of 100 to 150 pieces per month," he said.
"So, I am making the parangs on my own at home while my part-timers are doing other things to get income," he said.
Ahmad Nadir in the process of making a 'parang'. — Picture courtesy of Ahmad Nadir Askandar
He has continued to pay the basic salary of his full-time worker and the rental for his workshop despite not being able to open.
He rented the workshop space from the government and was given rental exemption last year but this year, he was only given a 50 per cent discount on rental.
"The discounted rental is better than nothing but I was not allowed to open my workshop and unable to fulfil more orders because I am working alone," he said.
Now he is only able to make between 70 and 100 pieces per month to supply to his dealer and orders are still coming in.
"Even though people can't go camping, they are at home planning for when they can go camping again and since they can order online, they are probably shopping now to keep for later," he said.
He said the lockdown in Malaysia and many other countries meant more people had more time to go online to shop for parangs to add to their collection.
However, he is worried that he will run out of materials before his suppliers are allowed to reopen.
His current supply can only last him another month and his suppliers are not allowed to operate now due to the SOPs.
"Once they are allowed to reopen, they will have to fill orders from other customers first so it could take them about two to three months to send my materials," he said.
The Chandong 8-inch model can be used to open durians. — Picture courtesy of Ahmad Nadir Askandar
Ahmad Nadir sources the high carbon blades for his parangs from Bidor, Perak and the eco beech wood handles from another local supplier.
He then creates his own brand of parang, simply named My Parang, and supplies to 15 local dealers and international dealers in Japan, Taiwan and Singapore.
"I have distributors in the United States and United Kingdom too," he said.
He makes 13 models of parang such as Golok, Duku Chandong, Tangkin, Bulan, Landing, Rintis and Bentong.
He said the different models come in different sizes and weight and are meant for a variety of uses from chopping wood to opening durians.
He said the eight-inch Parang Chandong is the model that can be used to open durians.
Ahmad Nadir Askandar making a ‘parang’ at his workshop. — Picture courtesy of Ahmad Nadir Askandar
Ahmad Nadir started making parangs as a hobby back in late 2013 when he had a camping equipment and outdoor supplies shop.
As the demand for his parangs grew, he decided to close his shop in 2018 and make parangs full time.
"Initially I was selling them myself but handling retail is not easy, it is very time consuming so I decided to supply to dealers so that they handle the retail and sales service part," he said.
He said he would rather earn a lump sum from a large volume supplied to his dealers than to earn more per piece if he sold the parangs on his own.
"I do help to market them and direct potential clients directly to my dealers," he said.
Orders for My Parang can be made through his website: My Parang.
The many different types of 'parangs' by Ahmad Nadir Askandar. — Picture courtesy of Ahmad Nadir Askandar