RUKUN NEGARA: THE NATIONAL IDEOLOGY OF MALAYSIA
The Rukun Negara was formulated on 31st August 1970, on Malaysia’s 13th National Day. The decision to formulate this national ideology was triggered by the racial clash that took place on 13th May 1969. Following the riots, the government imposed curfews and declared a state of emergency nationwide, invoking the 1948 Emergency Ordinance. Parliament was suspended and the National Operations Council (NOC) headed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak Dato’ Hussein, served as the temporary government of Malaysia. Others members of the NOC were: Tun Dr. Ismail, Datuk Hamzah Abu Samah, Tun Tan Siew Sin, Tun VT Sambanthan, Tan Sri Kadir Shamsuddin, Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie, General Tunku Osman Jewa, Tan Sri General Ibrahim Ismail and Tan Sri Mohamed Salleh. Tun Dr. Ismail was persuaded to return to government as Home Minister to help restore calm.
During the emergency period, efforts were made to re-establish peace among the races and to prevent future clashes. A Department of National Unity and a National Consultative Council (NCC) were set up. The Department of National Unity, under the direction of the NOC, spent nearly a year drafting a national ideology meant to bond Malaysia’s diverse population. This draft then was deliberated by the NCC which comprised of community leaders, businessmen, academicians, religious leaders, teachers, journalists and politicians from government and the Opposition. After discussions and amendments, the Rukun Negara was formally promulgated by Malaysia’s Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on 31st August 1970.
The national ideology or Rukunegara consists of five principles:
1. Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan ( Belief in God)
2. Kesetiaan Kepada Raja dan Negara ( Loyalty to King and Country)
3. Keluhuran Perlembagaan ( Supremacy of Constitution)
4. Kedaulatan Undang-Undang ( Rule of Law)
5. Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan ( Good Behavior and Morality)
The declaration of Rukun Negara in full:
Our nation, Malaysia, being dedicated:
• to achieving a greater unity of all her peoples;
• to maintaining a democratic way of life;
• to creating a just society in which the wealth of the nation shall be equitably shared;
• to ensuring a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions;
• to building a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology;
We, her peoples, pledge our united efforts to attain these ends guided by these principles:
• Belief in God
• Loyalty To King and Country
• Upholding The Constitution
• Rule of Law
• Good Behaviour and Morality
Each principle is explained thus:
1. Belief in God
• The People and Nation were established based on our strong faith in God. It is indeed in the name of God that the People and Nation were established as a sovereign People and Nation.
• Islam is the official religion of the Federation. Other religions and faiths can be practised in peace and harmony and the act of discriminating a citizen in the name of a religion is forbidden.
2. Loyalty to the King and Country
• Malaysia is a Country which practises constitutional monarchy and His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the Head of a Sovereign Country.
• The monarchy system is in line with the status of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as a Constitutional Ruler, whereby Their Royal Highnesses the Kings are the heads of their respective states. His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Kings and Governors are symbols of unity therefore His Majesty is not involved in politics. Loyalty is demanded from the citizens through sincere devotion.
• In addition, the Kings' people must also be devoted to their respective Kings and not compromise their devotion towards the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Federal Government. Loyalty is the soul of the nation. Sincere loyalty towards the Rulers and the nation is that which unites various races into an integrated Nation.
• Loyalty towards other countries is contrary to the undivided loyalty towards our Nation.
3. Supremacy of the Constitution
• Citizenship endows one a sense of belonging to the country. The Constitution grants certain rights and privileges to a citizen; the Constitution also places certain responsibilities and obligations toward the Nation and Country. Every citizen is required to respect and appreciate the content, meaning and history of the Constitution.
• It is the history which has enshrined a number of clauses in the Constitution such as those pertaining to the status of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Kings, Islam as the official religion, Bahasa Melayu as the national and official language, the privileges of the Malays and other native communities as well as the granting of citizenship.
• It is a noble and solemn responsibility for a citizen to preserve and uphold the Constitution.
4. Sovereignty of the Law
• Justice is based on the sovereignty of the law. All citizens are equal in the eyes of law. Freedom is guaranteed for all. This includes individual freedom, equal legal protection, freedom of religion, freedom to own assets and protection against banishment. The Constitution provides the right for a citizen to speak up, the right to assemble and the right to form associations.
• These rights can be exercised freely provided that it does not contravene the restrictions imposed by the law. The rights and freedom guaranteed by the Constitution exclude the right to topple the Government either forcibly or by unconstitutional means.
• Sovereignty of the law is guaranteed with the existence of an independent judiciary body and the power to decide whether the conduct of a ruler is legal or otherwise in accordance with the Constitution.
5. Courtesy and Morality
• Each person or group of people is required to handle their own affairs by ways which do not contravene morality.
• Morality condemns arrogance or conducts which offend others. A citizen is not supposed to question the loyalty of another citizen based on his/her ancestry. Being courteous also carries a high degree of morality in our individual and public lives.
Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, stepped down from office on 21st September 1970. Tun Abdul Razak became Malaysia’s second Prime Minister on 22nd September 1970. Parliament resumed on 23rd February 1971, after 21 months of Emergency rule.
Sources: Department of National Unity and Integration, Malaysia, Kelab Rukun Negara (http://www.jpnin.gov.my/en/nationalisme/rukun-negara-club); Visual Timeline of Malaysian Prime Ministers, Perdana Leadership Foundation (www.perdana.org.my/visual-timeline); Essays, UK. (23 March 2015). Principles of the Rukun Negara Theology Religion Essay (www.ukessays.com/essays/theology/principles-of-the-rukun-negara-theology-religion-essay); Malaysian Studies (Nationhood and Citizenship) by Nazaruddin Mohd. Jali et.al (2003)