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Sunday, July 11, 2004


Child Prodigy::Sufiah

::Wonder how many of us remember the child prodigy, Sufiah Yusof. The one whose mum is Malaysian-born, i believed. The Sufiah who provoked national debates in the UK and Malaysia. Well that was back in 2000, when she was 15 years old, yesterday she got married and brought her saga to a happy close. She has found happiness and a husband and has returnd to her university studies. But the debate regarding her running away, the reasons why she did so and what happened after she was found and the "how best to manage child prodigies" will be coated in controversies for a long time to come.
Her younger brother, Iskander Yusof surpassed the scholastic achievements of his more famous sister. He was only 12 when he enrolled at the University of Warwick in 1998, becoming Britain's youngest undergraduate and he graduated in 2002.

Below is The Times' article (10th June, 2004) by Sam Coates ::

Happy ending for the runaway prodigy


Sufiah Yusof provoked a national debate when she fled Oxford university, aged 15. She marries today.

A PRODIGY who went to Oxford aged 12 but ran away claiming that her parents had put too much pressure on her has found happiness and a husband on her return to university.

Sufiah Yusof, now 19, disappeared from St Hilda's College in 2000, the day after her third year exams, sparking newspaper headlines, a nationwide hunt and emotional appeals from her family.

In fact she was in hiding in Bournemouth, working in a hotel. When she was found by police in an internet cafe she refused to return to her parents and was taken into care by a foster family.

As the Yusof family difficulties were played out in public, her disappearance prompted a national debate on the treatment of prodigies.

But today The Times can reveal that her story has had a happy ending. This afternoon, Sufiah will marry Jonathan Marshall, 24, a trainee lawyer from Keble College. The pair met at a Law Society function more than a year ago, after Sufiah returned to Oxford in October 2002 to complete her final year.

Although she failed to complete the course and did not get a degree, she found love and now the couple plan to move to London and have "many children".

For the past year she has been working as an administrative assistant for a construction company, while her fiance completed a legal practice course.

Farooq Yufos, Sufiah's father whom she claimed was responsible for her disappearance, has been invited to the reception. It is believed that he will attend with the rest of her family.

Today's celebrations will cement the reconciliation between Sufiah and her family. After running away in 2000, she e-mailed her father to say "see you in Hell" and went to live with a foster family.

Relations worsened a year later when she told Tonight with Trevor McDonald that she never wanted to see her "controlling and bullying" father again.

But now the couple say that they have the blessing of both sets of parents, who "couldn't be more supportive".

Sufiah and Jonathan, both strict Muslims, are living together in Oxford after marrying in a Muslim ceremony last week. Jonathan, the son of Christians, was introduced to Islam by Sufiah and converted to the Muslim faith in April last year.

Today they will complete the legal formalities so she can become Mrs Marshall, and hold a reception for family and friends.

Sufiah told The Times: "Meeting Jonathan was the best thing that happened to me while I was at Oxford."

Asked whether she had, in fact, enjoyed herself at university , she said "I suppose . . . yes", adding only that the experience had been "interesting".

She said: "If you are surrounded by people your own age it certainly is different from being surrounded by people who are five years older than you. I can't quantify why exactly that is . . . it's just different."

She refused to repeat her earlier criticisms of her father's decision to push her into academia so young.

"I suppose, in retrospect, you can say if they (were) good decisions or bad decisions. But now it's just something that happened to me."

"As a Muslim you just believe that everything happens. It's hard to look back and be judgmental about my parents and my parents' motives (in sending me) to university quite early."

Sufiah was 13 when she started her degree, equalling the record of Ruth Lawrence, the maths genius from Huddersfield who entered university in 1984 and became Oxford's youngest graduate.

Sufiah's father and mother had given up their jobs to educate their five children at home, and Sufiah's success seemed to vindicate their decision.

But after three years she disappeared, sparking a huge police hunt. Mr Yusof, who was once jailed for a "1.5 million mortgage racket", claimed that she had been abducted by someone interested in his methods of accelerated learning.

But Sufiah had run away of her own accord. In an e-mail to her parents she wrote: "I've finally had enough of 15 years of physical and emotional abuse."



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MALAYSIA, a great place to be in, BUT we can, will and must make HER better.
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