Tiong offers Umno's Akmal Hokkien lesson as Bak Kut Teh controversy brews

KUCHING: Amidst the heated debate surrounding the designation of Bak Kut Teh as a national heritage food, Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing has offered a cultural lesson, particularly in Hokkien, to Umno Youth Chief Dr. Muhamad Akmal Saleh.

He said Akmal had tarnished the dignity of Umno by insulting and belittling other ethnic groups and displaying ignorance on the issue.

Taking to his Facebook account last night, Tiong asked the Merlimau assemblyman why the popular food was associated with Malay sensitivity.

"I have emphasized several times, the 'bak' in Bak Kut Teh means meat. For example, 'geh bak' is chicken meat, 'du bak' is pork, and 'gu bak' is beef.

"If you don't know and understand Hokkien, find someone who can teach and translate (the word) for you," he wrote.

He then questioned Akmal why there was no such furor when the Pas National Unity Committee introduced halal Bak Kut Teh, cooked using goat and chicken meat, during the 2018 general election.

He also asked why there was "no major issue" when Pas' Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan once promised to treat his media friends to halal Bak Kut Teh.

"(So) Why is this issue associated with Malay sensitivity? It's not that I don't care about the Malay community.

"As a politician, it is important for us to treat all citizens fairly and be concerned about everyone."

The Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president also took a dig at Akmal's conduct within his party, which he said showed lack of respect for his party's top leadership.

"If you do not know the basics of respecting the top leadership of your party, how do you intend to lead the country in the future?

"Isn't basic knowledge part of the criteria for (becoming) a leader?" he said, adding that the posting would be his last on the row.

"I will not waste any more time debating with you about trivial matters like this,"

Akmal had earlier called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to sack Tiong from the Cabinet.

He described Tiong's decision to list the food as "extremist action" that showed a lack of sensitivity towards the country's majority Muslim population.

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