Amidst the festivity and merry-making over the Lunar new year, words got out that Singapore is planning to file claim to UNESCO that yee sang, a raw fish salad with crackers and julienne of vegetables, popular during Chinese new year, as an intangible cultural heritage of Singapore. Of course, this then sparked a heated dispute between the Chinese and foodies communities of the two countries.
While it's extremely difficult, if not impossible to ascertain the origin of the dish, I applaud both the courage and pro-activeness of the Singaporeans in their efforts to preserve and promote this culturally significant dish to such extent. The Malaysian? We do what we do best: crying fowl! That's it! That's the reaction from Malaysians.
Let's face it, we are not even that good and determined in preserving the tangible cultural heritage in the country. Cases in point, look at what had happened to the century old Pudu Jail and the majestic Bok House. Or look at what soon-to-be happened to the pre-war shophouses along Jalan Sultan. We do not appreciate these beautiful historical structure at all, demolishing such heritage treasures for the building of offices and shopping malls and parking arcade. So who cares about the intangible heritage? Aside from Singapore, Indonesia, as UNESCO had given them the intangible cultural heritage of humanity listing for keris (the asymmetrical wavy dagger), batik (the hand dyed cotton or silk garment) and the wayang puppet theatre (the shadow puppet story telling), as they claimed.
Newton's third law of motion states that for every action there's a reaction with equal in magnitude but opposite in direction. Unfortunately, we the Malaysians are always the reaction, opposite in direction and generally less in magnitude, significantly less in magnitude.