Side Views

Yours or mine? — Lim Mun Fah

FEB 2 — A Singapore academic recently claimed on Facebook that the “lo sang” (tossing of yee sang) culture originated from the island republic and should be entered into Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Following food ownership debates over Hainanese chicken rice, bak kut teh and chilli crab, it reignited a food fight between Singaporeans and Malaysians.

It is a bit embarrassing as we always find after massive debates that many dishes actually originated neither from Singapore nor Malaysia, but China, India or Indonesia.

As for the “lo sang” culture being practised during the Chinese New Year, a more credible argument is, it originated from Guangdong province and was brought to Malaysia and Singapore in the 1940s. Local flavour was added and the dish then evolved into the modern version of yee sang, a Chinese New Year must-have dish. And the practice of “lo sang” became a popular local Chinese culture.

Therefore, it is actually only a fight for face. It harms the pleasantness between the two countries, as well as the joy of Chinese New Year. It is meaningless and unnecessary.

Therefore, let’s just face the reality. Both Malaysia and Singapore are just reformers of the “lo sang” culture. There is only one inventor but there could be many reformers.

Of course, it does not mean that the reformers have contributed less than the inventor. In fact, they have put in many efforts to make it a colourful and tasty dish today. It is very much different from the original yee sang and is still evolving.

If you ask me whether yee sang tastes good, I am sorry to tell you that I am fearful of raw fish, even though I still join and enjoy the “lo sang” session.

Singapore used to be part of Malaysia and thus, we have similar customs and delicacies, such as Hainanese chicken rice, nasi lemak and soup kambing.

Why should we fight for the ownership of them? In fact, it is most important that the dishes taste good and we enjoy sharing them. —

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.


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