Activists want Rukun Negara made part of Constitution

chandraKUALA LUMPUR: Civil society activists today launched a campaign to have the five principles of the Rukun Negara embedded as a preamble to the Federal Constitution.

Calling themselves “Rukun Negara sebagai Mukadimah Perlembagaan” (Rukun Negara as Preamble to the Constitution), veteran activist and Yayasan 1Malaysia chairman Dr Chandra Muzaffar said the move would make the Rukun Negara more relevant.

“The Rukun Negara has merely served as lip service for the past 40 years. The problem was the lack of political will to translate its principles into policies,” said Chandra after launching the initiative at the Malaysian Institute of Integrity today.

Joining him were activists Marina Mahathir, former Sisters in Islam director Zainah Anwar, law lecturer Prof Shaq Faruqi, lawyer Firdaus Husni, Prof Madeline Berma and Prof Tan Chong Tin.

The Rukun Negara is a set of five principles introduced in the wake of the 1969 riots. The five principles are Belief in God; Loyalty to King and Country; Upholding the Constitution; Rule of Law, and Good Behaviour and Morality.

Chandra, saying the public attitude on laws in the country was akin to “sleepwalking”, said it was not enough for school children to be able to memorise the Rukun Negara.

“Were people concerned about men and women riding on motorcycles or hot dogs back then?” he asked, in an apparent reference to the Islamic authorities’ arrests of Muslim couples in Terengganu and the controversy over the Malaysian Islamic Development Department’s (Jakim) rules on halal certification for food.

“People are in a ‘sleepwalking’ state and are not aware of what is going on,” he added.

He said it was now time to get support from lawmakers on both sides of the political divide, before bringing the campaign to the Conference of Rulers.

“We want to test the parliamentarians, whether they are willing to uphold the law.”

An online petition to support the campaign is on at rmp.yayasan1malaysia.org.