The Dewan Rakyat reconvened recently, whereby the Malaysian legislative body passed several Bills and discussed matters of national importance.
These include debates on the decriminalisation of attempted suicide, the 2021 Auditor-General’s Report and whether Bak Kut Teh is a national dish. Eh, wait a second… One of them is not like the others.
So, how did Parliament end up debating on the soupy pork rib dish? Well, this was after the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tebrau Jimmy Puah urged the government to consider recognising the dish as a national heritage food before other countries ‘claim’ it.
Speaking in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, Puah referenced a documentary by Channel News Asia that claimed Bak Kut Teh possibly originated from Singapore.
Posing a question to the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry during Question Time, Puah asked the ministry whether it has plans to form a national institute to protect and empower Malaysia’s traditional food and if there could be any documentaries made for this purpose.
The question was then answered by Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Akbar Khan who said that awareness efforts have been made to help locals differentiate between local delicacies and abroad.
The discussion then became spicy after Langkawi MP Datuk Suhaimi Mohd Abdullah questioned when did Bak Kut Teh become a traditional Malaysian food. He asserted,
“I want to ask, since when did Bak Kut Teh become Malaysia’s traditional food? Because from what I see under the 10 most popular Malaysian traditional food items, it isn’t there.”
He further queried whether the ministry has plans to apply for the dish to be included in the list.
Khairul then replied to the Langkawi MP’s query by partially agreeing with him, saying that for a dish to be listed as a heritage food, it must be able to be consumed by all Malaysians.
The Deputy Minister added that if a chicken version of Bak Kut Teh was made, maybe the dish could be listed as a national heritage food.
“For us to include any kind of food items as heritage food, I have to agree with Langkawi, it needs to have a prospect whereby the food item can be consumed by all Malaysians… And if it’s Bak Kut Teh in the form of chicken meat it could be.”
So, what do you guys make of this debate on Bak Kut Teh in the Dewan Rakyat? Do you agree with the Deputy Minister’s answer? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!