Move on from bak kut teh debate, Bersatu leader tells MPs

Bersatu associate wing chief Chong Fat Full calls for a focus on pressing economic issues instead.

(FMT) – A Bersatu leader has urged MPs to stop debating the bak kut teh issue following the continued dispute over its recognition as a national heritage food during the Dewan Rakyat session yesterday.

Bersatu associate wing chief Chong Fat Full said there was a misunderstanding among certain parties of the term bak kut teh, which had sparked controversy and disputes.

“We need to move on and shift our focus. This applies not only to Perikatan Nasional (PN), but to all MPs,” he told FMT, adding that everyone should accept Malaysia’s diverse social fabric.

Gerakan deputy president Oh Tong Keong meanwhile said that MPs should focus more on the economic issues affecting the people.

“Many people don’t know the meaning of ‘bak’ in bak kut teh. There’s goat and beef versions as well. There’s no need to waste time delving into such a trivial issue,” he said.

“They should channel their efforts towards helping the people, especially the B40 and the poor, particularly since everything is getting more expensive given the rise in service tax.”

The dispute in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday began during tourism, arts and culture minister Tiong King Sing’s winding-up speech on the royal address.

Tiong said that recognising bak kut teh as a national heritage food had nothing to do with race or religion, noting its long-standing presence in Malaysia and its availability in both halal and non-halal versions.

Several opposition MPs however interjected and offered rebuttals to his remarks, prompting him to present a screenshot of a 2018 article from PAS’s news site detailing how its national unity bureau had served halal bak kut teh at several by-elections six years ago.

In a subsequent press conference, Salamiah Nor (PN-Temerloh) said that “PAS’s bak kut teh” was not the same as the dish being recognised as a national heritage food.

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal (PN-Machang) also questioned whether states like Kelantan, Kedah, and Perlis had agreed to the dish’s recognition.