Mariam Mokhtar: Between Hannah and Kamarul

May 30, 2017

Mariam Mokhtar:  Between Hannah and Kamarul

Who would have thought it possible? Three years after it was published, a single police report against Selangor State Assembly Speaker Hannah Yeoh’s short political autobiography would cause her book to become a political bestseller.

Image result for HannahYeoh

Few of us knew that Yeoh had written the book, “Becoming Hannah: A personal journey”, until it became the focus of the Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Institute for Malaysian Political Analysis (Mapan) director, Kamarul Zaman Yusoff.

As Kamarul Zaman stated in his Facebook posting, reading the book had made him “admire” Yeoh’s God, although he disagreed with the stories and quotations from the Bible.

Image result for kamarul yusof vs, hannah

We can take him out of the Kampong but not his Kampong mindset

Admittedly, some people have a strange way of expressing their admirations, because Kamarul Zaman (photo) then posted osetn his Facebook page that Yeoh had a Christian agenda, was out to preach and could influence others with her Christian beliefs. So convinced was Kamarul Zaman that Muslims would be in danger, he made a police report that Yeoh was out to proselytise others.

The book is all the more unusual in that Yeoh is a DAP politician and in the political climate in which we live, many Malays have been told to be wary of DAP and their policies. Yet, Kamarul Zaman felt compelled to read her book.

In a nation where the common joke is that 97 percent of the population reads around two-and-a-half pages a year, clearly Kamarul Zaman is in the three percent category, and this makes him all the more interesting. As Yeoh’s book was written in English, it makes his fears, that Yeoh can proselytise, even more fanciful.

“Becoming Hannah” is a book about Yeoh’s faith, trust, communication and hope. Faith in herself, trust in her friends and family members, and in the communication that is vital for relationships to succeed. As she is a devoted Christian, naturally it is also a story about her prayers, the signs from Him, her faith in God and trust in Him. The underlying message is also of hope. Hope for Malaysia’s future and younger generation.

Main thrust of the book

The main thrust of her book is the story of becoming an accidental politician. Of being in the right time and place. It is also about adversity and her ability to transcend all the obstacles put in her way. When she stood for her first election, a new bride of one month, with only RM700 in her and her husband’s bank account, she had to pit herself against the BN machinery, which has unlimited resources and money. It was the goodwill of the people in her constituency who came to the rescue. Her core of friends and other nameless strangers volunteered their time to get her campaign off the ground.

Clearly, Yeoh’s book is worth a read, because in her first term she won with a 13,851 majority and in the second election, won an even bigger majority of 28,069.

The book is in two parts and the first part addresses her faith. In herself. To do the things required of her as a dutiful daughter, a newly-graduated lawyer, a young wife and mother, and churchgoer. She surmounts all the challenges with references to the Bible, and, if she had been a Muslim, would probably have used references in Prophet Muhammad’s life to guide her daily life.

She describes how, in her youth, there were millions of other young Malaysians who saw former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad as someone who put Malaysia on the map: Petronas Twin Towers, KLIA, Suria KLCC, the Sepang International Circuit…

After her return from Tasmania, having graduated, Yeoh felt a little depressed and possibly unsure of what to do with her life. Her cousin’s influence and her adopting a new Christian name, Hannah, for her “rebirth”, helped her to get back on her feet. Meeting her future husband, was an unusual event as it was not the normal love-at-first-sight romance.

In the second half of the book, with her newly found self-confidence, she talks about sacrifice, and wondered if other women politicians felt as she did. She also describes the electorate who treated assemblypersons and MPs as problem solvers, and not as policy makers. An incorrect counting of her votes made her realise the importance of polling agents.

Yeoh fondly describes senior DAP people who gave her sound advice. Teresa Kok, who, like a “big-sister” told her how to dress as a people’s representative, and to prepare a portfolio of photos to show her interacting with the rakyat. Lim Kit Siang, who was keen to hear the views of young people like her, and encouraged the party to absorb the views of the younger generation. She was mesmerised, when she saw Anwar Ibrahim enthral an audience.

Yeoh pays tribute to her friends, close aides and especially her family, in particular her mother, her father and her cousin, Shelly. Special praise goes to her husband Ram, for without him, she would not have been able to prosper.

“Becoming Hannah” was written with much frankness and it could so easily have been a book about the majority of us, who have no political inclinations, who moan about the country, rather than about a woman who became an accidental politician.

The second best aspect of reading Yeoh’s book was that after reading it, my Muslim faith remained intact; but those of us whose faith is wavering, might see others as wanting to proselytise.

14 thoughts on “Mariam Mokhtar: Between Hannah and Kamarul

  1. Quote:- “…after reading it, my Muslim faith remained intact;”

    Actually by right it should strengthen your Muslim faith as both Christians and Muslims worship the same Almighty God because didn’t the Quran itself says all the Christian and Judea prophets were all sent by Allah Himself?

    So for god’s sake, there is really no need for any Muslim to convert to Christianity or Judaism or vice versa.

  2. This Kamarul Zaman aqidah is so weak that he starts to admire God after reading Hannah’s book. He fails to understand that God is Allah.I wonder what will happen to him if he reads the book The Hijacking of Islam by Aidid Safar. He probably become an instant atheist or kafir.

    • Orang Malaya,

      This Kamarul character is the product of a pampered Malay community,shaped at early age to be a dunggu. There are many in Malaysia today. Hannah’s book is an autobiography. She is sharing her life experiences with us.–Din Merican

  3. I’n not worried for YB Hannah because there many thinking Malaysians just as there are bigotted idiots like him! Snd she will onlu come out of this episode stronger as a Human, Woman and as an MP. Shakespeare said, “what the bigger ones do, the lesser ones prattle”. Guess who’s the lesser one here?

  4. 1. kalau dia nak berdakwah kpd non-christians esp the moslems, dia kena distribute f.o.c. macam the sun. ini kena beli & this shows this guy knows little about islam. ini jenis islam keturunan.

  5. Sadly, there are many Malays with good academic achievements like him.

    These people are very narrow minded and self-centered and only mix with their own race. Locally, they do not have have other races as good friends and do not know of other races culture and religion.

    They bring this attitude with them while studying overseas – they do not learn about the local people and their culture. To make things worst, they are employed by the government, usually through connections and are extremely active or obsessed with the narrow, divisive and damaging politics of race and religion.

    As long as these people think ‘ orang kita = Malay/Muslim ‘ are in position of power to abuse the system and they have their secured government jobs and ‘ entitlements ‘, these people will never change…….unless there is a serious crisis affecting the country’s economy and finance or they are made to work in the private sector to keep their jobs and compete for their salary and position base on merit.

    Malay/Muslims’ extremism and terrorism at this point are considered not a problem because Islam is used as a political weapon; it is their obligation to ‘ defend ‘ the politics of Islam and all Malay/Muslims are brothers.

    Decades of bad and corrupt Malay/Muslim political leadership and culture and gross mismanagement had done enormous long term and permanent damage to the social cohesion and a multi racial and religious country.

  6. Tqvm Marian mokhtar ..highlight that this book was public 3 years..I never aware of that book existing.. everybody talk me to buy the book

  7. Let donkeys bray and geese honk. These are just diversions from the BIG theft by that klepto and all his merry men and women.
    If you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks your road will never end.

    By the by, its said that the sultan of London received a paltry RM2mill from the 1MDB thief. Anwar’s prosecutor was handed RM9.5 million. Such disrespect for the royal household, or maybe cheapskatery among the royals has plumbed new depths.

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