Anwar: “Don’t squabble over canteens, bak kut teh like it’s a life and death issue of our dignity”

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has lamented that he had returned from a six-day official trip to Germany to find that Malaysia’s headlines were dominated by petty squabbles.

Speaking at the Prime Minister’s Department’s monthly assembly on Monday (March 18) morning, he said Malaysians should focus on more important matters such as building up the economy and attracting investments.

“I discussed the issue of investment (abroad) but back in Malaysia we see the issue of the recognition of bak kut teh (as a national heritage food) and keeping school canteens operating during Ramadan,” he told members of the department.

“They were heatedly discussed as if it is a life and death issue of our dignity.”

Meanwhile, Anwar stressed that his official visits overseas, including the latest one to Germany, are for the nation’s benefit and not for personal pleasure as alleged by certain quarters.

He said there have been accusations of him abusing power and misusing government funds to holiday abroad, along with other claims of misconduct.

“I may not be able to address all of these issues but believe me, during my six-day official trip to Germany, I didn’t even set foot into a shop. I had no activities other than moving between the hotel and meetings,” he remarked.

“I didn’t attend a meeting on the first day and then play golf on the second. That is an outdated practice. There was little free time after my programmes, so I only took a short walk to relax. That is all.”

In addition to official meetings with German chancellor Olaf Scholz and president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Anwar said he also engaged with European-based Islamic scholars to discuss the challenges of Islamophobia.

He noted that in meetings with various corporate leaders on his trips to China, Australia, and Germany, they commended the improving efficiency of the country’s public service delivery.

“I believe that if we concentrate our efforts, in just a few years, we can restore our nation’s dignity. We’ve fallen behind in digital transformation and energy transition, both of which are critical priorities for our nation,” he said.

“Let us discuss things like that. While it’s fine to talk about bak kut teh once in a while, let’s not dwell (on these issues) excessively.” – March 18, 20244


Main pic credit: Bernama

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