'More urgent matters than bak kut teh': Anwar [NSTTV]

PUTRAJAYA: The debate on the recognition of bak kut teh as a national heritage dish and the functioning of canteens during Ramadan must not be dragged out any further.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar said the enhancement of national policies should be prioritised, stressing that this issue demands collective attention from all stakeholders.

"Upon my return to Malaysia, I observed heated discussions surrounding issues like bak kut teh and canteen operations during Ramadan. While these discussions are essential, they should be within our broader national agenda.

"I implore our society and public servants to focus on our families and the future. With steadfast determination, we can achieve substantial progress.

"Let us redirect our efforts towards urgent matters. We mustn't prolong debates, particularly on trivial matters like bak kut teh. Instead, let's channel our energies towards addressing pressing national concerns," he said during the Prime Minister's Department monthly assembly today.

In February this year, bak kut teh, a traditional Chinese soup infused with meat, herbs, and spices, was officially recognised as a national heritage dish.

Bak is the Hokkien word for meat, but bak kut teh is typically made with pork.

However, there are also halal versions of the dish in which pork is replaced with chicken and fish.

The recognition of bak kut teh as a national heritage dish was criticised by some parties, including Umno Youth chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh, who said it was insensitive to Muslims.

In the recent Dewan Rakyat session, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said his firm stance on recognising bak kut teh as a national heritage dish has nothing to do with religion or race.

Tiong said bak kut teh has been around for a long time and that the dish had halal and non-halal versions.

He also appealed to all parties to respect Malaysia's diversity and preserve the unity between its people of different races and religions.

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