Hannah Yeoh and Christianity

This column was published Sunday May 21, 2017, on The Malaysian Insight

I’M actually surprised Hannah Yeoh is getting into trouble for talking about her devout Christianity. I remember watching her Facebook video where she talks of referring to the Bible to settle family arguments, during the 2013 campaign or earlier.

But the flak she is getting over her book is this; if anyone who reads her book is a Muslim, it is a constitutional breach because some consider it propagation. Yet at the same time, if those who read her book are non-Muslim, it’s fine.

Personally, I am more perplexed that those being faux offended took so long to read a book. It does not bode well for Malaysia’s reading habit statistics to finally reach a late chapter of a biographical book published in 2015.

And I thank God that whoever did the police report didn’t come from UiTM, since my alma mater gets roped in every now and then as an easy “crowdsourcing” target for celebrations and protests.

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan alludes correctly that even social media posts can be construed as propagation, if Muslims see a meme or read a Bible quote from one of their contacts.

Yet at the same time, would government then try to regulate the Net for Muslims here to avoid Christian websites? I hope not. I happen to read the Christian Science Monitor every now and then.

So, how now, brown cow?

Shall books come with warning labels? Websites filtered by the MCMC?

Idiotic Muslims of weak faith report every person who posts a Bible quote on Facebook, including that joke about an Uber driver named Jesus driving his own Accord?

Will our Internet police file a Facebook request banning Christian content, like the Thais did for their crop top tattooed King walking about a shopping mall?

Bible quotes are also found in movies and TV series, such as Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino’s The Devil’s Advocate, even the West Wing, when telling the tale of Isaac and Ishmael. Heck, it was even a large part of The Exorcist, The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2.

After all, we already have such idiots who can’t stand seeing a cross without foaming in the mouth and protesting without any action taken by the police.

To what end do these weak of faith individuals and such supporters want to go with this? Or is it just political opportunism?

If you’re still clueless, it’s political opportunism. A general election is near, and mud-slinging campaigns are aplenty. And sadly, they may have basis for it on our Federal Constitution as it is.

But is it relevant today?

I would say no, being friends with Christians, even pastors, and even reading books from Karen Armstrong or even Reza Aslan – both of whom write about religions from a researched, comparative and historical standpoint.

Personally, I give as much eye-rolling cynicism to conservative outspoken Muslims, just as I do Christians, Hindus, unit trust managers, perhaps vegans, and more recently, Kangen water dealers.

It is a non-issue. A good choice to attack and infect dark thoughts in lesser Muslims of weak faith, and no more than that.

But more to the point, what this move is saying indirectly is that non-Muslims cannot talk religion to Muslims. It is a move to create divisions in the multi religious fabric of a country that is already frayed by politics.

It is using the exclusivity of religion for politics. As much as how ancient Christian Popes having Feasts of Chestnuts were using religion for their own means, so too are certain Malaysians doing the same now to discredit the good work of a Christian for writing her book.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has said that younger Malaysians want a Bangsa Malaysia. And this must include the ability for any youth, any person, any Malaysian citizen, to speak freely of themselves and their beliefs.

So, will they stand with Hannah Yeoh, who speaks of her experience as a devout Christian which included having time abroad? Or will the so-called Bangsa Malaysia youth supporters falter over politics and remain quiet because they prefer not talking bad about a government they rely on?

Or perhaps even more sinister, the Bangsa Malaysia they market has no mention of Christians being part of them?

But I will end with this – whatever the youth decide will have political and economic ramifications on a global scale. We are no longer that tiny exotic nation where Caucasians only know for the food, beautiful women and white, sandy beaches.

We are now part of a globe, connected by cable and media that travels at light speed, and what is done here, what is said here, will reverberate to every corner of the earth.

So, to those picking this issue out, the whole world is watching. Have you no shame?

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