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It’s not the book that’s a problem, it’s the lecturer that is

May 23, 2017

If one has strong faith in their own religion, nothing Hannah Yeoh has said about hers can cause one to rush to the nearest priest or pastor to get baptised.


kamarul-hannah-yeoh-arrogant-1By Odin Tajué

The most media-exposed university lecturer right now is most likely Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia. Unfortunately for him, the exposure does not seem to have anything to do with any measure of academic brilliance.

This man is obviously stubborn. He is clearly arrogant. Based on news reports of his statements, he is positively not exactly the brightest of Malaysia’s sparks. In fact, I am not too sure if you can describe him as a spark to begin with.

The various news reports published so far point to the above descriptions. And the very latest has added more proof of his character — he now wants Hannah Yeoh’s autobiography to be sold only in shops selling Christian religious materials.

“What troubles me is the action to deceive book readers by saying it is her biography, when in reality it contains Christian teachings,” he was reported to have said on May 21.

All right. Let us take a look at books in general.

Books come in two forms — hard cover editions and soft cover editions. For the hard cover editions of this genre (autobiography) as well as of most other genres, we have what is called a dust jacket.

A dust jacket is really a second cover, but it is of a much thinner material than the actual cover and it is not attached to the bound pages nor the actual cover. On the back of the dust jacket is printed what is known in the industry as a ‘blurb’.

A blurb provides a concise description of the subject matter of the book and, sometimes, a bit of information about the author. In the case of the soft cover edition, this information is printed on the back of the back cover.

Doubtless, you know all this, but I am putting it down merely for the sake of showing the lecturer’s unfounded fears.

When we are checking to see if a book will interest us, we read the blurb. I have not seen Yeoh’s autobiography; but if her publisher is worthy to be called such, he would have a blurb written to intimate, among other important things, Yeoh’s strong faith in her religion and that her journey or work was guided by her God.

The human brain has 100 billion neurons. Each neuron has 10,000 synapses. Even if Yeoh’s publisher had not provided copious details, anyone with at least 1 neuron and 1 synapse in his (or her) brain in good order would be able to deduce that Yeoh would be saying a few things about her religion and her God, and how both have influenced her thinking and actions.

Naturally, Yeoh would also have pointed to certain Bible verses or retold one or more parables or stories, or parts thereof, that influenced her thinking. It is pointless to tell someone how fast you have covered the distance from Point A to Point B without telling him or her the means of your locomotion, isn’t it?

Now, if you are a non-Christian and despise Christianity, you place the book back on the shelf and move on to the next.

Or, if you are a non-Christian but you view Christianity as just another religion, and have strong faith in your own religion, and buy the book because you are interested to know more about Yeoh, nothing she has said about her religion and God would cause you to rush to the nearest priest or pastor to get baptised.

And Kamarul has also insulted Yeoh by accusing her of deception.

But we are told that Yeoh’s autobiography was published in January 2015.

That means two years and four months has passed. How is it that over that span of time no one else found the book deceiving or viewed it as a vehicle for proselytising?

I can name a few Islamic bodies in Malaysia that would have been only too happy to have the book banned and burned or would have protested violently in front of Yeoh’s office or house.

It is totally pointless to deal further with Kamarul’s allegation that Yeoh has tried “to deceive book readers by saying it is her biography, when in reality it contains Christian teachings.”

Because the whole problem lies with the lecturer himself.

One of the major causes for stubbornness or arrogance is stupidity. Although he has denied it, Kamarul Zaman Yusoff is definitely that, full-stop. Notwithstanding his impressive paper qualifications from the Indiana University of Bloomington.

Odin Tajué is an FMT reader.

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.

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