Teresa Kok: Bak kut teh in national heritage food list can attract tourists to M'sia [NSTTV]

KUALA LUMPUR: The inclusion of bak kut teh, a traditional pork rib soup, in the national heritage food list should be viewed as a strategy to attract tourists to Malaysia.

Seputeh member of parliament, Teresa Kok, defended the decision, saying that bak kut teh was created by the Chinese community in Malaysia.

"If we do not acknowledge that it was created by Malaysians, our neighbouring country will make the same claim. So, tourists are unaware that bak kut teh originated in Klang.

"In my opinion, our intention to include certain foods in the heritage food list, including bak kut teh, is to attract foreign tourists to visit Malaysia, especially from East Asia such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan," she said in Dewan Rakyat during the motion of thanks on the royal address today. 

She cited recent statistics from the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association, indicating that over 100,000 Chinese tourists visited Malaysia beginning Feb 5 this year, just before the Chinese New Year celebration. 

"More than 5,000 groups of Chinese tourists were in Malaysia during that period, and they spent between RM1 billion to RM1.5 billion in our country.

"We are aware that Malaysia needs to compete to attract Chinese tourists, especially with other countries in Southeast Asia," she said.

Kok commended Pas Muslimat Information chief and former Pas National Unity Council chairman, Dr Najihatussalehah Ahmad, who introduced halal Bak Kut Teh called "lamb kut teh" and "chick kut teh" which used lamb and chicken.

"It was launched during the by-election, six years ago. So, I hope others, including the Temerloh MP (Salamiah Mohd Nor), who criticised it when it was listed as a national heritage food to learn from Pas and promote bak kut teh to foster national unity," she said.

Following Kok's address, Mohd Misbahul Munir Masduki (PN - Parit Buntar) also weighed in on the issue during his motion of thanks at the royal address today. 

Misbahul said he had no issues accepting bak kut teh if it was truly halal.

"People still know that bak kut teh is made from pork ribs. 

"However, the government should provide a clear explanation and inform whether there are halal and haram (bak kut teh)," he said.

However, the situation got heated and Kok intervened, saying, "Bak kut teh does not necessarily have to be made from pork; it can be vegetarian, lamb or beef."

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