Engkalak lip balm, Terung Assam serum brainchildren of chemist Saidi Rasemi

Saidi and some of his cosmetics and toiletry products.

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By Lian Cheng

SAIDI RASEMI’S late father underwent an operation which resulted in a wound in his forearm. Being diabetic, his wound failed to heal, despite applying all sorts of medical cream, even those he asked his son Saidi to buy from Kuala Lumpur.

Knowing that his son is a trained chemist who was interested in creating organic remedies out of local plants and fruits, as his last resort, he asked Saidi to make something for him.

Saidi, whose area of interests is in producing natural and organic remedies did as his father asked. He devised with a cream and let his father test it. Three days later, the wound finally dried up and subsequently healed.

“It was like magic. This cream which I custom-made for my father just worked.

“This gave me the inspiration to want to produce more natural remedies from local plants and fruits and from there, I started to desire to own a shop where I can sell my own products and where in some cases, I can even custom-made products for people, as I did for my father,” Saidi told DayakDaily in an exclusive interview.

Since then, Saidi has not stopped making cosmetics and organic health products, creams, ointments, perfumes, soaps, face masks and others which are made using local plant and fruit extracts.

Engkalak lip balm? Terung Assam serum?

Some of Saidi’s products—soap and Engkalak lip balm.

Yes, you read it right. Saidi produces Engkalak (also known as Sarawak avocado) lip balm and Terung Assam serum.

“Engkalak contains a lot of vitamin E while Terung Assam, vitamin C,” said Saidi.

Saidi graduated with a Chemistry degree and for his final research project, he focussed on myrmecodia tuberosa which is commonly called the ant plant.

He found out that the plant is high in antioxidants and possesses the property of lowering blood sugar. The discovery later paved the way for him to turn the plant into an organic tea which won him a gold award.

For his Master’s degree, he went deeper into researching both myrmecodia tuberosa and macaranga hosei, commonly known as nasturtium tree or parasol leaf tree.

“Now, there is research done for many plants and fruits. I don’t do that anymore but I read journals regarding plants published by other researchers, and based on their research, I work out the right formula to come out with my own products.”

Saidi works closely together with researchers such as Professor Dr Khong Heng Yen of Faculty of Applied Science of Universiti Teknologi MARA Sarawak and Dr Isabel Fong Lim of Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) to create new business opportunitiesnfor himself and open new market opportunitiesbfor Sarawak as a whole.

After all, not many places can replicate Sarawak’s resources, which includes diverse biodiversity in flora and fauna.

Part of Saidi’s many products, ranging from toner to serum to exfoliating gel scrub to perfume.

Vanilla coffee perfume? Spicy fragrance?

Yes, you read right again.

Saidi has not only achieved his initial dream owning a shop selling his own line of products, but also customising products for his customers.

His best selling product presently is minyak angin (ointment) and perfumes which he customised for customers.

He was once asked to create a vanilla coffee fragrance and after testing, he managed to create the requested perfume where the first note was of vanilla and the second, the aroma of coffee.

There was another customer who wanted something “spicy” which drove him to look into cinnamon and cloves so that he might create some “spiciness”.

“I may not do all essential oil extraction myself but for the local plants, I do the extraction all by myself. Sometimes, I also venture into the jungle to collect local wild plants for my use.”

Creams produced by Saidi.

Saidi, the award-winner

Winning awards is nothing new to Saidi. His latest award win was due to a toner, the result of a collaboration with Khong and Fong where they managed to bag the Gold Award in International Invention and Innovation Exhibition (ITEX) 2023 at KLCC.

In 2021, Saidi brought his students to attend International Conference on Design for Sustainable Living which was held in Kuching. The VibRalle wound healer cream which he and his students produced, won them the Gold and Inspiring Award.

Among the many awards he has won was a Gold Award for the production of a brain health capsule.

“I have been producing organic tea which has medicinal value for drinking. Then I realised that many people are just too busy to sit down and drink the herbal tea. So I turn the tea into a capsule. They can just swallow it and be done.”

To reinforce his point, he offered two products he brought along to the interview today—a Sacha Inchi and Red Ginger Tea sachet and some Red Ginger Capsules where both offer anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, digestion relief, immune system improvement, blood sugar lowering and cancer prevention properties.

The capsules and tea bags produced by Saidi.

Dreaming big for Sarawak

Saidi has achieved his first dream. There is a second dream that he wants to fulfil, which is to see more products being created based on the vast diversity of medicinal plants in Sarawak.

It may be a long way to go, but as he has already started, it is his hope that he will finish well. — DayakDaily