The secret slow-drip sanctuaries of Bangkok

BANGKOK — There’s a distinct delight when one discovers a little nook in unfamiliar neighbourhoods when travelling. A place where one can feel at home even though one is far from home. A place where one can indulge in the simple pleasures of life, such as a cup of hand-brewed coffee.

Bangkok, like many other Asian capitals, has seen its share of Third Wave coffee bars springing up. Many have become destinations for tourists as well as locals. The love of a perfect shot of espresso or intricate latte art on a flat white seems to be universal.

But beyond these coffee hotspots — mostly congregated in the streets of Thonglor, Phrom Phong and Ekamai — are better hidden gems, often nestled along a dead-end soi or in a more far-flung location. Let us discover a couple of secret slow-drip sanctuaries of Bangkok together.

North of the city centre, concealed within the increasingly hipster neighbourhood of Ari, is a slow-drip haven that requires some hunting down. Some Time Blue, run by National Thailand Brewers Cup 2016 champion Sutida Srirungthum, is located along an unassuming tree-lined soi. Not the first place we’d go looking for coffee, much less the slow-drip variety.

In fact, the building that houses this café, we soon realise, is the headquarters for Sahamongkol Film International, the company responsible for Muay Thai martial arts hit Ong-Bak. One should expect fantastic kicks and fantastic coffee, perhaps?

Once inside, we are transported from the now default café décor of exposed concrete walls and rescued wood furnishings. Instead, mismatched vintage furniture and various coffee brewing equipment create a cosier, more welcoming space. Low-hanging lamps by the windows? How romantic.

The real action takes place at the coffee bar, however. The single origin bean menu is a seasonal one. An outstanding offering is the La Mula natural processed Special Geisha from Boquete, Panama. Sweet, floral and fruity — we detect notes of jasmine, papaya and passion fruit — this is a cup to remember. Another rarity is the Ethiopia Agaro Kaffe Washed Heirloom roasted by Berlin-based Five Elephants; full of juicy berry notes.

For something that’s always available though, we adore their Gravity Latte, akin to a double shot of espresso into a cold glass of creamy milk (as far as we can tell). Unlike Tokyo-based Bear Pond Espresso’s celebrated Dirty — an espresso shot between two layers of chilled milk, topped with another shot — the coffee here is nutty and balanced, a blend of Thai and Honduras beans.

The original, Srirungthum happily shares, can be discovered at her friend Mook’s Asama Café in Chiang Mai. This frank acknowledgement is typical of the camaraderie and generosity we have come to identify with the Thai coffee community. There is this strong belief that everyone is better off spreading the gospel of the beans together. This extends to their faith in local beans from coffee farms up in the highlands of Northern Thailand.

Desserts rotate according to season and availability of ingredients such as the summery Passion Krub tart, banoffee cake, matcha panna cotta and homemade soufflé cheesecake. We like our coffee and our cake at Some Time Blue chilled on a rainy day; it’s all about the mood, you see.

On the opposite side of town is Simple Coffee, Simple Life, a coffee bar located inside a condominium just off the eastern end of Rama IX Road. (Consider it a pit stop before flying if you’re heading to Suvarnabhumi Airport.)

This colourful, sunlit café is home to yet another National Thailand Brewers Cup veteran. Barista Jaranya Chanwong is the reigning champion (2017 and 2018). Her enthusiasm for her craft is immediately apparent when we ask her to recommend a coffee. The way her eyes brighten is an experience in itself.

Chanwong often offers limited run beans and we are lucky to have tasted the beans she competed and won with this year. Roasted by DuckYou Cafetista, the Ninety Plus Geisha Estate Lot No. 095 had undergone the signature Jose Alfredo double fermentation process. The result is an exceptional cup; we detect dense wood tones with notes of dark cherries. It’s like sipping brandy, albeit without the alcohol. Still as heady though.

Her partner and shop manager Nat Samanthai is another cheerful presence at Simple Coffee, Simple Life: their smiles are infectious and light up the space as much as the morning sun. Eclectic bric-à-brac such as festive paper dragons and terrariums add a sense of whimsy. The stunning view of the condominium pool encourages visitors to relax.

Besides drip coffee, Simple Coffee, Simple Life also offers other dreamy concoctions such as a Watermelon Martini or Ipanema, an iced black coffee layered with coconut milk. Bites are courtesy of local baker Tid Jirasinkitti of Amatissimo Caffé. The brown butter banana muffin and salted egg yolk croissant are truly out of this world, the best accompaniment we can imagine for Chanwong’s stellar coffee.

Whether it’s to geek out over coffee lore or to unwind with a slow-brewed cuppa, these cafés are a reminder that even when we are travelling, there are always secret places waiting to be uncovered, a home away from home to call our own.


Some Time Blue

55 Soi Phahon Yothin 2, Phaya Thai, Bangkok, Thailand


Open Mon-Fri 9:30am-6pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm


Simple Coffee, Simple Life

S1 Condo Rama 9 Soi 45, Suan Luang, Bangkok, Thailand


Open daily (except Wed closed) 9am-5pm


Meeting of chiefs

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at Perdana Leadership Foundation yesterday. Both the leaders’ wives Ho Ching and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali were also present. Lee later met with PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. — Picture by Reuters

>> page 2


‘You should have told me’

Following BN’s GE14 defeat, Datuk Seri Najib Razak says Khairy Jamaluddin and other coalition leaders should have spoken up if they thought there was a problem with his leadership.

‘I’ve always practised an open style. People were free to voice their comments, even difference of opinion,’ he told Malay Mail.


The former prime minister also says:

Rule of law must apply equally to everyone, including Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Voters must hold Pakatan Harapan government accountable, claims he was demonised


Other developments involving Najib:

Asks police for witness protection, says life at risk

MACC says will record his statement in Putrajaya and not at home

Wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor says leaks involving 1MDB investigation are vilifying family


>> PAGES 3 TO 5

S’pore PM renews links with Dr M, Anwar

PUTRAJAYA — Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met his new counterpart Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his designated successor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yesterday, though they did not address “substantive” bilateral issues in their first meeting after the recent watershed election.

Lee said his meeting with Dr Mahathir was more of a courtesy call, and expressed hopes that the regular bilateral leadership retreat, which began under the 92-year-old’s earlier tenure as the country’s fourth premier, would continue.

“We did not discuss any substantive bilateral issues. It was really a courtesy call for me to send him my greetings and good wishes and to express the hope that we will be able to work together on many things between Singapore and Malaysia,” Lee told the Singapore media after the back-to-back meetings.

Dr Mahathir greeted Lee at about 11am at the front porch of the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya. The two leaders, accompanied by their wives, met for 30 minutes. Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan also attended the meeting.

Lee said he had invited Dr Mahathir to visit Singapore, and expressed hope that they would be able to continue the annual Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat, which started more than 20 years ago when Dr Mahathir and his then Singapore counterpart Goh Chok Tong met in Langkawi in 1994.

“I hope that once (Dr Mahathir) has settled all of his domestic priorities, which he has many, he will be able to follow it up. And also in November, we’re hosting the Asean summit and I look forward to receiving him in Singapore,” added Lee. “We didn’t discuss anything beyond that but we had an exchange of views of what was on his mind, what was on mine. I think it was a warm, fruitful meeting.”

Turning to the bilateral relationship, Lee said both countries have worked on various projects over the years. Although there have been “issues from time to time”, he pointed out that both countries have been able to address them and expressed optimism about making further progress in bilateral cooperation.

“And I think (Dr Mahathir) shares that hope,” Lee noted.

In his Parliamentary speech earlier on Wednesday, Lee had described the May 9 election, which saw the Barisan Nasional coalition lose power for the first time in six decades to Pakatan Harapan, as a “momentous development”.

After meeting Dr Mahathir, Lee also met with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Deputy PM and Minister of Women’s Affairs and Welfare-designate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, at a downtown hotel.

Both men last met in 1995.

Asked about his conversation with Anwar, Lee said: “We had a general conversation on how he saw developments in Malaysia, how his views of what’s been happening, and what his plans were. But the main thing was to re-establish the personal link with him.”

Lee also invited Anwar to Singapore if he needed to detach himself for a while. “Come to one of our institutes and write a book. He (Anwar) said he’d consider.” —Today


‘Old friends’ catch up in Putrajaya

PETALING JAYA — PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim described his meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as a “a meeting among old friends”.

Lee, who had earlier called on his Malaysian counterpart Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya yesterday, took time to see Anwar.

Anwar was accompanied to the meeting at the Marriott Putrajaya Hotel by his wife, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail .

The informal meeting lasted an hour and was also attended by Lee’s wife Ho Ching.

Anwar said they knew each other when he was deputy prime minister and finance minister in the previous administration.

“It was a real pleasure to be able to meet him again. Essentially, we believe in strong ties between both countries as stressed by the prime minister and are hoping it will go beyond that.

“Other than that, it was just a meeting between old friends who have not met for sometime,” said Anwar when met by reporters at the hotel’s lobby later.

Dr Wan Azizah also stressed on having good bilateral relations, and described the meeting as good.

“We look forward to stronger ties,” she said.

When asked if the issue of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) — a joint development project initiated by the previous government — was discussed with Lee, Anwar said this would be further discussed at prime ministerial level.

“Details will be worked out,” he said.

On Wednesday, Lee said in Singapore’s parliament that he knew Anwar well as they were both previously deputy prime ministers at the same time during the 1990s.

Anwar, who is designated to be the next prime minister, was given a full royal pardon on Wednesday after serving a jail term for sodomy on what he claimed to be politically motivated charges.


Najib: Khairy, party members had freedom to convey dissatisfaction

KUALA LUMPUR — Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday said Khairy Jamaluddin and other Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders should have spoken up earlier if they thought there was a problem with his leadership of the coalition and government, he told Malay Mail in an exclusive interview at his residence here.

In his first interview since BN lost the 14th general election — the first in its 61-year rule — Najib was asked about criticisms levelled at him by certain Umno members.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve always practised an open style. People were free to voice their comments, even difference of opinion. I’m quite open about it, except that I want it to be done in private, because we should not attack each other as members of the government,” Najib, who is Pekan MP, said.

Party members, he said, always had the freedom to convey their dissatisfaction or difference in opinion but they must use the “proper channel”.

“So Khairy is free to come and see me and say: ‘Look sir. I think you are not on the right track, or there is some problem, you know, which were not resolved in a proper way.’ I could then decide, whether to accept or not to accept,” he said.

“He didn’t do that. I mean, he admitted that he didn’t do that.”

Dressed in a bright yellow polo T-shirt and slacks, the 64-year-old was calm and composed despite the hawkeye watch of a bevy of lawyers in his private home, which has been under 24-hour police surveillance after he was barred from leaving the country.

Najib said he has never forced his ideals on any BN members, emphasising only the need to follow the party line for discipline’s sake.

“Because, if you attack the leadership openly, that’s against party discipline. But if you come and say: ‘Sir, I disagree with you. I think you should do it this way.’ That is not against party discipline,” he said.

Najib did not mention names but appeared to allude to his former deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and former Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal. Both senior Umno men have since gone on to lead their own political parties, which have been catapulted to power following the historic events on May 9.

Muhyiddin and Shafie had both spoken out in public against Najib’s handling of sovereign investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

But Najib was referring to Umno Youth wing chief Khairy in this context.

In an interview with Singapore’ Channel News Asia after BN’s defeat, Khairy admitted that coalition leaders had been “drunk” on hubris after 60 years of uninterrupted power.

Khairy also admitted that no one in Umno nor BN were willing to “bell the cat” after seeing their then second-in-command dropped from Cabinet for questioning Najib over the source of 1MDB’s funds.

Najib has resigned as president of Umno and chairman of BN, replaced by his former deputy Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

A number of senior Umno members have visited Najib at his home namely Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam, Tan Sri Noh Omar and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri.

Other BN leaders have distanced themselves from Najib.

‘Rule of law must be applied fairly’

KUALA LUMPUR — The rule of law must be applied equally to everyone, including Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“Whatever it is, it has to be fair. Rule of law has to be applied in a very fair way, and it must be seen to apply to everybody. Everybody must adhere to the rule of law,” Najib said of Dr Mahathir.

Speaking to Malay Mail at his home here yesterday, Najib said: “I mean, if you have accepted 30 horses from your friends, that must also be taken into account, because he has admitted openly. The horses were given by his friends.

“He has received gratification from his friends and has admitted it openly,” he said.

In an interview on CNN Indonesia two years ago, Dr Mahathir revealed his love for horses, also telling the American broadcaster that he owned close to 40 of them. He also said some of the horses were given to him.

Dr Mahathir has consistently pointed out that investigations into the 1MDB scandal and Najib’s role in it must be subject to the rule of law and due process.

The prime minister has said he was not seeking revenge against Najib, and that he would be treated fairly. However, if Najib was found guilty of any criminal wrongdoing, the he would have to face the consequences, Dr Mahathir added.

In the interview, Najib also questioned the position of Lim Guan Eng as finance minister-designate, as the latter is still on trial for alleged corruption.

Najib accused Pakatan Harapan (PH) of “double standards” when evaluating the integrity of its own party members.

“This is contrary to what they have been saying. They practise double standards. When it comes to their own people, it is something else, when it comes to BN leaders, it’s something else,” he said.

“Well, the principle is the rule of law. He is not guilty until proven, but most people don’t think it is appropriate for a man who has been charged to be appointed as a minister of finance, until he clears his name.

“I’m not saying he’s guilty, but clear your name first,” Najib said.

Najib urged voters to also hold the PH government accountable, and said the new administration’s promises were “in the realm of fantasy.”

“Ya, they create a certain kind of bandwagon effect and they demonised me throughout the campaign, but I think history will judge. I think now is not the time, but history will judge what have (they) contributed to the country,” he said.

He also claimed it would be impossible for PH to fulfil all the promises made during the campaign.

So far, the new Mahathir administration has zero rated the Good and Services Tax (GST), started an investigation into the 1MDB scandal, and kickstarted widespread institutional reforms. Dr Mahathir has also declared an end to fluctuating fuel prices.

“This is the realm of fantasy. There is no way that they can achieve this,” Najib said, referring to PH’s promise to waive off student loans owed to the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN), abolish GST, and reduce pump prices,” he said.

“I mean it already can be seen that three days after the election, they said the economy is in a strong position. Before that, they said the economy is in a bad shape, we are going towards bankruptcy, we need to save Malaysia.

“You mean in three days, the economy has recovered so dramatically? The reserves are so strong, we are getting good growth? No! These are statements made three days after the election,” he said, adding that the economy was already doing well under BN.

No home interview, says MACC deputy chief

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will record Datuk Seri Najib Razak at its headquarters in Putrajaya on Tuesday, its deputy chief of operations Datuk Seri Azam Baki said yesterday.

Azam denied that MACC would be interviewing the ex-prime minister at his home in Taman Duta here, contrary to a statement just hours earlier by Najib’s lawyer.

“The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has delivered a notice to former prime minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak to be present at the MACC headquarters on Tuesday (May 22).

“I reject the statement by Najib’s lawyer, Datuk Harpal Singh Grewal that MACC officers will be present at his house to record his statement.

“In the notice that was delivered to Najib yesterday, it was stated clearly that he has to be present at the MACC headquarters to have his statement recorded,” Azam said in a statement.

He said Najib is required to be present to assist in the MACC’s investigations in the case involving SRC International.

SRC International is a company that was formerly a subsidiary of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), but it was later parked as a unit under the Finance Ministry.

Harpal had earlier said MACC investigators agreed to go to Najib’s house to record his statement, confirming that no investigator had taken his client’s statement yet and that Najib’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was currently not under investigation.

A member of a panel that reviewed the MACC’s files on 1MDB said the commission had evidence that Najib received US$10.5 million (RM42.1 million) from SRC.

Najib has previously denied wrongdoing in matters involving 1MDB.

Children plead for return of ‘gifts’ seized from condo

KUALA LUMPUR — The two luxury condominium units at Pavilion Residences raided by police investigating the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal are occupied by his two youngest children Norashman Najib and Nooryana Najwa Najib, Datuk Seri Najib Razak revealed yesterday.

In a statement issued by his lawyer Datuk Harpal Singh Grewal, Najib expressed disappointment with the “indiscriminate manner” investigators had conducted the raid and seizure of the personal items, which he indicated were “gifts” to the children.

“In Ashman’s condominium, his old handphones, iPads, and a laptop were seized,” Najib said in the statement, adding that watches and a laptop belonging to his son’s assistant were also confiscated.

“These items are working tools of Ashman, who is gainfully employed.”

The statement said the other condo unit was occupied by his married daughter Nooryana Najwa, who was absent when the search was conducted. Only her maid was present.

Investigators had seized Nooryana’s personal clothing, shoes that belonged to her or were gifted to her from a room, listed as number 1.

“It is also shocking and disappointing that wedding gifts given to the couple were seized and removed by the raiding party without any attempt to identify the nature of the items,” the statement said, referring to Nooryana’s marriage to Daniyar Kessikbayev, a nephew of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The couple tied the knot in a lavish wedding ceremony here in 2015.

“What is more shocking and distressing is the seizure of several pairs of baby shoes and attire bought for the couple’s young child,” the statement continued.

The lawyer also claimed the investigators had helped themselves to food and chocolates in the condominium units before “demanding” more food be prepared for them.

Harpal said the condominium’s occupants are appealing to the Commercial Crime Department for the return of their personal belongings.

He said Najib would continue to extend his cooperation to the authorities.

“They are professionals in their own right, and are entitled to all these clothes and shoes,” Harpal said.

“Both the occupants appeal that the personal effects be returned, to avoid causing further embarrassment and distress to the family. There is no relevance and no prima facie evidence for this seizure to take place.”

Harpal said his client did not want to be rash, and would wait for the police to respond before deciding his next move, which also includes legal action.

Meanwhile, in her first public statement yesterday, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor called on the authorities investigating the 1MDB scandal to rein in moles in their midst who are leaking information about her family’s private belongings.

Because of the leaks, Rosmah said their family has become the target of public “vilification” and are being put on a trial by the media even though none of them have been charged with any crime.

“Despite the overwhelmingly trying times afflicted upon us, we have, and will continue facilitating any inquiry, and avail ourselves to any requesting authorities.

“However, we would like to bring to attention the seemingly compromised inquiry process, whereby a series of leaks pertaining to the probe has made its way into social media spheres, in real time,” Rosmah said in a statement to Malay Mail released by the law firm representing her, Valen, Oh & Partners.

She highlighted in particular, the details of the “alleged items confiscated” by federal investigators.

“It is our hope that the authorities would observe the rule of law and due process, to avoid a premature public trial,” she said.

“Enforcement agencies should not be feeding social media trolls, but observe and uphold strict professionalism at all times.”

Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director, Datuk Seri Amar Singh said Najib’s lawyers should provide more information on their alleged claims that the police ate food from his family’s residences

He said he had already instructed police personnel involved in the raids to act professionally when carrying out the searches.

“I will not tolerate such unprofessional conduct and stern action shall be taken against the personnel concerned in contravention of our police standard operating procedure, if the allegations are found to be true,” he said in a statement yesterday.

With regards to claims on the purported leaks of photographs on the raids over social media, Amar explained the stringent pre-emptive measures that the police had already taken to prevent such incidents.


A glimpse at life post-GE14

KUALA LUMPUR — It was a hive of activity behind the police cordon at 11, Jalan Langgak Duta in Taman Duta, Kuala Lumpur.

The house was filled with boxes and luggage that appeared to have been hastily transported from Seri Perdana, the prime minister’s official residence in Putrajaya. In what appears to have been a former guest room, more boxes were arranged in rows that nearly reached the ceiling.

Maids and butlers were bustling about, ushering in group after group of visitors who wanted to meet former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Perhaps the only occupant in the house that looked the least perturbed was the family’s Persian cat, Kiky.

Ignoring everyone’s presence, she walked right up to Najib, who had just entered the room to greet his visitors, and plonked her plump body near his feet, demanding his attention.

“Datuk Seri, your cat does not seem to like us,” I said.

He laughed, looked at Kiky and said: “This cat? This cat’s the laziest cat in the world.”

I was there to interview Najib’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor. But while waiting, the cat provided the chance for a word with the Pekan MP.

Having lost his job as prime minister and resigned as president of Umno and chairman of Barisan Nasional, Najib said he was now easing into “retirement”.

“My daily life? I’m jobless. I’m unemployed,” he told Malay Mail, laughing.

“I will provide my thoughts on how the country is going, but let me take a break and sort out my personal side first,” Najib said.

“I don’t know yet. I will see how things develop. Give me time, because it’s still early days, but I will do whatever I can to contribute to the country because the country needs people who can give their thoughts,” he said.

Despite having stepped down as Umno leader, Najib expressed interest in rebuilding the Malay nationalist party that secured only one-third of the votes in the general election.

“You know yesterday, I was in the Umno headquarters. I saw the pictures over the years and I said to myself, Umno has contributed so much. This county is synonymous with Umno. From the beginning until now. It is my duty to ensure that we will gain back the pre-eminent role.

“Well I’m going to help. Even though I resigned as president, I can still help in whatever way I can,” he told Malay Mail in his first media interview since the events of May 9.

When asked if Umno members still visit him for direction and insights to running the party, Najib replied in the affirmative.

“Well they are coming. Everyday we are getting people. You know they kind of miss me lah,” he said smiling.

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