Tiong hits back at Umno youth chief: Bak Kut Teh isn't limited to pork

KUALA LUMPUR: Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing has rebuked Umno Youth Chief Dr. Muhamad Akmal Saleh, cautioning him against adopting an oppositional or extremist stance.

This came after Dr Akmal, who is also Melaka State Executive Councillor for Rural Development, Agriculture, and Food Security, raised an issue regarding bak kut teh.

"Regarding bak kut teh, 'bak' refers to meat. I have emphasised several times that the herbs used are halal. The type of meat used can vary.

"You can add chicken, and then it becomes 'chicken kut teh'. If you add seafood, it becomes 'seafood kut teh'. If you add lamb, it becomes 'lamb kut teh'.

"Dr Akmal often mentions 'pork bak kut teh'. However, 'bak' refers to meat in general, not just pork. I suggest Dr Akmal refer to a dictionary if unsure of its definition," he said in a Facebook post yesterday.

Tiong said this in response to Dr Akmal's demand for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to dismiss the tourism minister following several issues involving him.

Dr Akmal was quoted as saying that the issues include bak kut teh being included in the national heritage food list and the demotion of tourism director-general Datuk Dr Ammar Abd Ghapar to deputy director-general.

As a leader belonging to the new generation, Tiong said Dr Akmal should evaluate and analyse facts before speaking to the public.

He said, as Malaysian citizens, everyone should respect each other and be more cautious before making statements, considering their impact on national unity and peace.

However, Tiong said issues like this have been played out repeatedly, seemingly only to fulfill personal political interests.

Tiong added that he would not force anyone to violate their religious regulations or practices through heritage food recognition.

"In Motac (the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture), there are also many leaders and staff of Islamic faith, so of course, I deeply understand and respect all parties.

"We should all respect and promote our national heritage. If not us, then who else will recognise our heritage? Isn't diversity and multiculturalism what make Malaysia unique?" he said.

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