On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Some political issues are difficult to stomach

Last Saturday, Klang MP and  Wanita MCA deputy chairman Dr  Tan Yee Kew led a group of community leaders
to a feast of bah  kut teh to prove there
is no reason  to fear a belly-up eating

A few days later, it was MCA 
vice-president Datuk Chua Jui 
Meng's turn to lend his stomach. 
The Health Minister ate several 
pieces of roasted pork to prove 
that the publicity over the spread 
of JE had gone overboard.

The DAP obviously found it difficult to stomach Chua's bravado.  On Tuesday, 
its leaders turned up  in full
force for their bah kut teh  feast after
party secretary-general  Lim Kit Siang
had announced a  “Save Bah Kut Teh''

“We have seen a roasted tiger in 
Kelantan, dead pigs in Seremban 
and now a dead dugong in Johor. 
We should demand a Commission  of
Inquiry,'' one DAP supporter demanded.

With the “Save Bah Kut Teh''  campaign,
he reasoned, the DAP  would be able to
impress upon the  Chinese community the
party's seriousness in fighting for their interest.

The MCA, he grunted, had been  too slow
in responding to the needs  of the pig

Call it pork-barrel politics or 
whatever, the MCA is not amused 
by the DAP antics either. Its supporters claim the DAP is capable  only of snorting.

“The only thing they are good at  is
sowing hatred for the government,'' one member said.

Both parties are saying they are  no
push-overs and certainly no  easy meat,
as far as the JE issue is 

Said a bah kut teh eating academician: “It's a hot issue for both  these Chinese-based parties.

“They want to prove they are  still
lean. They are eager because  of the next
general elections.''

A veteran journalist, however,  said the
JE issue should not be politicised as it was a health problem.

“Let's keep our sanity. Lives and 
livelihood are at stake here. The 
DAP should not piggy-back on the 
issue to gain votes.

“It's simply distasteful. There is 
nothing rib-tickling at all.

“The farmers must not lose their  income
and their children should  be able to
continue putting money  into their piggy banks,''
he cautioned.

For consumers, many seem to  have
chickened out, shunning bah  kut teh for
other meats.

“We would rather eat chickens  now,
although it's less fleshy. I  know some
of us are over-reacting  but we would
rather wait and see,''  one confessed.

Pig farmers are understandably  concerned
over what has been happening and they have demanded  quick and effective help from the  Government.

“We are merely demanding justice. If the authorities don't help,  they will be meat balls come election,'' one
farmer complained.

He also warned the press, especially those from the vernacular  papers, to check their facts first.

“We are disappointed with some  members
of the media who exaggerate the issue.''

But over in the Land Below The  Wind, Sabahans
have continued to  have their bah kut teh
with little  hesitation.

Said a regular eater: “It's a semenanjung problem lah. There's  no JE problem here. We are only  interested in state issues.

“We are not concerned about  dead pigs.
We're sorry to hear  about your dugong
but we only  want to talk about kataks

“When the election results are  out,
we'll know how the kataks performed. That's the only thing  brewing here beside my bah kut  teh.''

Bah kut teh or whatever, politics  must
be put aside sometimes. Or  else
over-eager politicians, irrespective of their political affiliations, may find
themselves in hot  soup.