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Don’t view Bak Kut Teh via narrow lens: Yee 
Published on: Monday, March 04, 2024
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Don’t view Bak Kut Teh via narrow lens: Yee 
Yiew pointed out that the word “bak” denotes meat, hence Bak Kut Teh does not have to be pork-based.
Kota Kinabalu: Special Assistant to the Chief Minister, Yee Tsai Yiew, said the issue of Bak Kut Teh’s designation as a national heritage food should be considered with an inclusive and open attitude, reflecting multicultural Malaysia’s harmonious development.

“Our country is multiracial. Respecting the cultural traditions of all ethnic groups is a critical component of maintaining societal cohesion.

“Designating Bak Kut Teh as a national heritage dish demonstrates the government’s appreciation for Chinese culture and support for pluralism.

This demonstrates the practice of an inclusive government, a government for all Malaysians,” she said in a statement, here, Sunday. 

She said that Bak Kut Teh is a representative delicacy of Malaysian Chinese. It has a lengthy history and a significant cultural legacy.

“It is not only an indispensable part of people’s daily diet, but also a cultural symbol, representing the blending and fusion of Malaysia’s diverse cultures,” she said. 

Yiew, who also serves as the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Api-Api Division Information Chief, made the statement in response to the Federal Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, who announced on Feb 23 that Bak Kut Teh would be officially recognised as a Malaysian national heritage dish.

The declaration sparked debate among certain politicians who disagreed with the classification.

Yiew pointed out that the word “bak” denotes meat, hence Bak Kut Teh does not have to be pork-based.

Other meats, such as chicken or fish, can also be used to make

Bak Kut Teh, and many places provide both chicken and seafood.

She believes that Bak Kut Teh deserves to be listed as a national cultural heritage, and she supports Tiong’s decision.

“Tiong is a seasoned politician; I believe he values and is proud of Malaysia’s multicultural qualities, and he is dedicated to maintaining social harmony.

Before deciding to include Bak Kut Teh in the national cultural heritage, he would have conducted a thorough review and requested feedback from all parties.” 

She said the dispute surrounding Bak Kut Teh’s origin has no bearing on its cultural worth. It has become an essential cultural icon for Malaysian Chinese, and its cultural significance cannot be underestimated.

At the same time, she said Bak Kut Teh is a popular Chinese cuisine in Sabah, enjoyed by people of all ethnicities.

Bak Kut Teh has produced no controversy or problems in this State, and other states can learn from Sabah’s people about racial tolerance and respect.

She believes that recognising Bak Kut Teh as a national heritage will help to grow the State’s tourism business, particularly among Chinese tourists.

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