Public urged not to assume that bak kut teh is always not halal

Bak kut teh served with kampua mee at Lim's stall at Batu Lintang Food Court.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, March 6: The public should seek out more information about bak kut teh and not make assumptions about it as misconceptions could bring about more harm than good, and affect the people’s daily lives.

Muslim food operator Sadiqin Lim who serves chicken kampua mee and beef bak kut teh at his stall at Batu Lintang Food Court, expressed this sentiment and agreed with the recent listing of bak kut teh as a heritage food in Malaysia.

He encouraged individuals who disagreed with the listing to learn more about bak kut teh and other dishes.

He supported Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), Dato Sri Tiong King Sing, saying that criticism over the listing is a petty matter and that attention should be given to more pressing matters in the country that can help the people and the nation.

“Everybody should be proud and happy, including food operators like myself, to learn that many traditional dishes are listed as heritage food in Malaysia, including bak kut teh and our Sarawak kolo mee,” said Lim.

Food stall operator Sadiqin Lim sells kampua mee and bak kut teh at Batu Lintang Food Court.

He also explained that he is willing to share more information about bak kut teh with people who are skeptical about the dish.

“I can explain to them that it is not wrong for Muslims to eat bak kut teh as ‘bak’ means meat, and as such, the dish can use meat like beef, mutton, chicken and even seafood as an alternative to pork, which is non-halal and only consumed by non-Muslims in the country.

“For me, as a Muslim food operator selling bak kut teh, I use beef to make the dish. In Kuching here, I do not face any issue from my customers; the same goes for my kampua mee, a renowned dish that originated in Sibu—all served by a Muslim, me,” he told the DayakDaily.

“How about ‘bak chang’ (meat and rice wrapped and cooked in bamboo leaves) and ‘bakso’, a well-known Indonesian meatball soup dish already established among local communities? Are we going to stop our local food operators and those who are Muslim from making these dishes?

“It could be one of the many iftar dishes consumed in breaking fast next week during Ramadan. So, for me, I believe for people in East Malaysia, concerning bak kut teh being listed as a heritage food in the country, is not an issue at all,” he said.

On Feb 23, Heritage Commissioner Mohamad Muda Bahadin announced that bak kut teh, Sarawak kolo mee, and eight other iconic foods are now listed as heritage food under Declaration Heritage Objects 2024 Feb 16 and published in the government gazette on Feb 23.

However, a week ago, United Malays Organisation (Umno) Youth Chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh asked the prime minister to sack Tiong for letting Bak Kut Teh be listed as a national heritage dish, but Tiong responded by cautioning Muhamad Akmal against adopting an oppositional or extremist stance. — DayakDaily