Hannah’s book controversy

As expected, Selangor assemblywoman Hannah Yeoh’s book, “Becoming Hannah”, is flying off the bookshelves! The book is currently out of stock on MPHOnline.com (but can be ordered) and sold out at all MPH outlets — except two — in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, according to the sales attendant at an MPH outlet I visited yesterday to get the book!

Thanks to the publicity created by Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) lecturer Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, who is the director of UUM’s Malaysian Institute for Political Studies, people are now reading Hannah’s book.

Kamarul, after reading the book, had described her in a post on Facebook as an “example of DAP’s biggest hypocrisy”, and accused DAP of mixing politics with Christian teachings.

Hannah lodged a police report over his allegations, following which Kamarul also made a police report claiming that the stories in her book “can influence readers, including myself, to feel admiration for the greatness of Hannah Yeoh’s God.”

Whatever the controversy, people are reading Hannah’s book and will judge for themselves if the allegations are, indeed, true. That, really, is the right thing to do. Read the book and judge for yourself.

Not having read the book, I don’t know if Hannah clearly stated on the cover that her account is an expression of her faith. The product description on MPHOnline.com, however, carries an introduction by Dato Dr Alex Mathews which clearly states: “Hers (her book) is a story of unwavering faith in and allegiance to a loving God …” That should tell whoever who wants to read her book that this is a faith journey.

Turning the pages of the book, they will realise it is about her Christian faith. So, whoever wants to read the book has the choice not to read or buy it if they don’t want to know anything about the Christian faith. If, however, you do, you can’t claim she is proselytising and accuse her and her political party of a “christianizing’ agenda”.

This “christianization” argument is always thrown at Christians often for no apparent reason, except, I suspect, to gain political mileage or to ventilate through Christian-bashing. “Christianization” is an outdated cliche which holds no currency now, especially since every religion practices “…ization”. There’s Islamization, Hinduization, Buddhistization … .

So, it is extremely hypocritical to accuse the adherents of one religion of doing what every religion unapologetically does. In Malaysia, constitutionally, we can’t proselytize to Muslims. However, that does not mean that we can’t share our faith experiences.

Sharing our experiences does not mean proselytizing even when it influences others because it comes under freedom of expression. Every idea or thought, whether religious, political, social or economical, when expressed, influences. An “…ization” takes place.

Someone expresses himself or herself and another or others will be influenced by it. Just because some will be influenced does not mean that we can’t express ourselves. That is telling us not to talk, which is a deprivation of our right to freedom of expression!

How ridiculous can that be!

“To be influenced” as a result of sharing does not mean proselytizing because the intent is not to manipulate one to believe.

When people communicate and express themselves, it is open-ended. There’s a choice to accept or reject or dismiss the point expressed. Whatever choice we make, it is our decision and we should not put the blame on others.

Kamarul’s simplistic explanation of Hannah’s book is a baseless slip of logic from the premise that the book carries Bible verses and its stories can influence the reader, to the conclusion, it has a hidden agenda to christianize.

That is slippery slide logic and one which I don’t expect from a university lecturer.

 

 

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