KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 ― Rattan or rotan in Malay has been a vital material in furniture-making and other items in the past.
However, after the emergence of plastic, demand for rattan items has dropped drastically.
Rattan basket maker Liew Yoon Thye, 70, said her business dropped nearly 50 per cent as her customers, who are mostly farmers, started using plastic baskets instead of rattan ones.
“There used to be 20 basket makers in Chemor, Perak. But as demand dropped, they have to close their business.”
“People now use plastic items as they can be re-used and last longer compared to those made from rattan.”
Liew, who has been making rattan baskets for more than 40 years in Kampung Kanthan, Chemor, is the last one to continue the business in the area.
She said a rattan basket costs around RM5 while a plastic one costs between RM12 and RM18.
Liew said she started to make rattan baskets when she was 10 years old and only took it seriously after her marriage as she was unemployed.
Her son Chong Kim Fei, 42, said it takes 15 pieces of bamboo to make a rattan basket.
Chong said a rattan basket can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes.