Malaysian Leaders Defend Hannah Yeoh And Her Freedom To Write About Her Faith
"It's Yeoh's right to relate her story."
It all started when Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, a lecturer at UUM commented on how Hannah Yeoh spoke of her Christian faith in her book, 'Becoming Hannah'
The UUM lecturer commented in a police report which he lodged that "the stories can influence readers, including myself, to feel admiration for the greatness of Hannah Yeoh’s God.”
Kamarul professed the book aimed to "coax, influence and instigate" non-Christians to convert.
UMNO-owned Utusan Malaysia alleged that Yeoh used her political position to preach Christianity
“Her call for Christian followers and the members abroad specifically is very clear. She asked them to follow her footsteps in politics to rebuild Malaysia based on Christianity,” said Awang Selamat, a pseudonym used for Utusan Malaysia.
Awang also mentioned that "Yeoh's revelation showed that she mixed religion and politics." He then continued with this remark: “Supposedly for DAP, Malaysia is a secular country whereby politics should be separated from religion-related matters. Supposedly for DAP, the parties that like to mix religion with politics like UMNO and PAS, should be heavily opposed.”
As hostile as people can be towards the Speaker of Selangor, there were people who stood up for her
“It’s Yeoh’s right to relate her story,” said Nik Nazmi, Youth Leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), adding that he too has written about how Islam motivated him to go into politics.
Nik Nazmi also tweeted that the book, 'Becoming Hannah: A Personal Journey' solely gave an account on how Yeoh’s faith had inspired her.
Agreeing with Nik Nazmi’s comment, Catholic Bishop Emeritus Paul Tan Chee Eng further elaborated that, “Our religion influences our ethics, our judgment and criticism of ourselves, and our behaviour towards our fellow human beings."
"What's wrong with Yeoh being a Christian?"
"YB Hannah Yeoh is a Christian whom I've known since we entered the life of a politician. Though she's a Christian and I'm an Islam, she lives her life as a good Christian in whatever she does, exhibiting good morale and if her religion allows her to be a good politician, then let her be," said Salahuddin Ayub, the deputy president of Parti Amanah Rakyat (AMANAH).
"We can't be inequitable in our judgment towards her just because she's from the Democratic Action Party (DAP). She is a Christian and she just wants to be a good people's representative, speaker and politician.
People who condemned her like the said lecturer just wants to make this a racial and religious issue. It's illogical and irrational. Therefore, Hannah is given the freedom and right to live out her faith in peace in this country as proclaimed in our Perlembagaan."
Many other politicians were appalled by this fiasco
Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang, expressed his bewilderment in his statement: "I want to question why is Hannah Yeoh being persecuted for talking about her faith. Is it wrong for non-Muslims to talk about their faith? She is not preaching to any Muslim, she's merely speaking of her own faith." said Lim.
He added, "if DAP had wanted to "Christianise" Penang, why would they increase the allocation for Muslims by 84 percent or RM450mil?"
This incident has also reached the east side of Malaysia, raising eyebrows of Sabah politician, Adrian Lasimbang, DAP’s Orang Asal consultative council vice-chairperson: "The action by an academician attacking Hannah Yeoh through his interpretation of the book titled 'Becoming Hannah' is very disturbing for Sabahans. This shows the degradation of secularism that was guaranteed during the formation of Malaysia."
A former employee of YB Hannah talked about his experience with her and how it changed his life. Khairil Khalid, ex-research officer in the Speaker’s office expressed his frustration in a Facebook post, saying:
"I rarely comment and and voice my opinions on political matters in any social media because I believe that a deep understanding of the issue is essential, as there are accusations and false news everywhere nowadays.
If we look into these past few days, the whole catastrophe about YB Hannah’s autobiography entitled “Becoming Hannah”, was said to contain some Christian elements. There’s even a so-called intellectual claiming that the content of the book undermines his faith and encourages one to adopt the Christian faith.
I have a copy of 'Becoming Hannah' and have read it before. There isn't even a sentence which utters that Hannah wants to christianise Malaysia. Yes, she is a Christian, and she expressed how she held tightly to the teachings of her religion as a politician, but what’s so wrong about that?
I had the opportunity to work under YB Hannah for two years at the Speaker's office as a research officer. However, my faith wasn’t even shaken a little. In fact, my experience working with her made me reflect every day on how far I’ve come in my Islam faith.
She consistently reminded me that as leaders, we’re not only accountable to the people, but also to our God. God knows what we are doing and that’s why we can’t take our job lightly and take what doesn’t belong to us.
The positive values and ethics that YB has shown not only as an employer but also as a leader has helped in many ways leading up to my career as a lawyer.
If we have knowledge and our faith is strong, then it wouldn’t be too easy to stray away, right?"