Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Institute for Political Studies director Dr Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, who is also a lecturer himself, read a 2014 autobiography of Selangor (a state in Malaysia) assemblywoman Hannah Yeoh. Yeoh herself is a committed Christian, and she is seen by many to be one who upholds justice and righteousness in her constituency, just like how God had commanded His children to do. Kamarul Zaman claimed that the book, aptly titled Becoming Hannah: A Personal Journey, left him questioning himself about the greatness of Yeoh’s God, and the tome itself is a tool of proselytization, hence lodging a police report. Incidentally, it is against the law in Malaysia to proselytize to a Muslim.
In the police report, it was mentioned that there were “too many stories from the Bible,” in addition to “the stories can influence readers, including myself, to feel admiration for the greatness of Hannah Yeoh’s God.” The lecturer even used his Facebook page to hurl accusations at Yeoh, citing that her party (DAP) is hypocritical in nature. His comment read, “...for DAP, separation of politics from religion should only be done if it is about Islamic matters. But if it involves other religions such as Christianity then they (DAP) are okay.” The absurdity of it all is laughable at best, and pitiful on the other end of the spectrum. It seems that even a small number of Muslims are now dictating to non-Muslims what they can share in their autobiography, and what they can't. The silent majority have remained status quo though, as speaking up is often seen as a disrespectful act in the Malay psyche, even more so when it comes to matters of religion where the masses leave it to the people of the cloth. Hence, a growing number of pro-Islam factions have grown in recent years, which has also led to Malaysia being labeled as a dumping ground for foreign militants in a report.
Anyone who has read her book would know that this is the amazing story of her personal journey, and how the hand of God has actually guided her through this arduous trek. Happily married with two children, Yeoh continues to garner strong support from her voter base.
It might sound more like a piece of news that would appear on The Onion or other satire websites, but that is not the case. Rather, he looked to be dead serious about his concerns, and if that is the kind of lecturers that are molding the minds of the young and impressionable in Malaysia, one can do nothing but wonder what kind of education quality the students on the campus are receiving, especially those who are in his class. University Utara Malaysia (UUM) was ranked 701 in the world in 2015, only to see it slide more than a hundred places as of this year. The drop in its world ranking is not surprising at all, and holds water considering the quality of lecturers that this tertiary educational institution has.
Sentiment on the ground points to an impending general election which must be held by 2018 at the latest, and each time election season rolls around, there will definitely be a rise in racial and religious tension. The race, religion, and money cards have been brandished over and over again since 1957, and each general election has seen the incumbent government emerge victorious. The last general elections in 2013 saw the current government win despite losing the popular vote, and many in the urban areas have already turned away from such a brand of politics. However, the present government’s power base lies in the rural areas and in East Malaysia, where the folk are relatively simple to convince, and their lives are not impacted as much as in the cities in terms of the ever increasing cost of living due to the self sustainable lifestyle in the interior.
Malaysia is a Muslim majority country that had long held an example of being moderate and progressive, exhibiting a brand of Islam that is tolerant of other religions. However, in recent decades, the level of tolerance had started to erode slowly but surely, with creeping Islamization setting in. Of course, the constitution of the country does not help either, citing that a Malay (the majority people group) is one who practices the customs of a Malay and is a Muslim. In other words, one’s ethnicity can be changed simply by embracing Islam. With the ethnic Chinese and Christians often being singled out as the bogeyman, there is much to pray for in Malaysia.