Former top judge rejects Rukun Negara as part of constitution

Abdul-Hamid-Mohamad-rukun-negaraKUALA LUMPUR: A former top judge today disagreed with a recently launched movement to have the Rukun Negara made the preamble to the Federal Constitution, saying the five-point National Principles could threaten the position of Islam and Malays.

Former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad said the Rukun Negara was created out of political considerations and therefore would undermine the courts’ interpretation of the constitution.

“Rukun Negara is not necessarily drafted by legal experts and was drafted for political reasons, how can it be a preamble?” Hamid told a roundtable discussion organised by Malay pressure group Perkasa today.

In January, civil society activists led by Yayasan 1Malaysia chairman Dr Chandra Muzaffar launched a campaign to have the Rukun Negara embedded as a preamble to the Federal Constitution.

The campaign aimed to approach MPs from both sides of the political divide as well as the Conference of Rulers.

But Hamid said any preamble to the constitution should only come from legal experts.

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

Hamid said the Rukun Negara’s call for an equal society as well as for greater unity could undermine the constitution’s special position for the Malays and the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak.

“It can be used to challenge Article 153 of the Federal Constitution,” he said, referring to the special position of the Malays.

He added that the Rukun Negara could also undermine the position of Islam, adding that its use of the word “Tuhan” (God), instead of the Islamic reference “Allah”, meant that it could refer to any religion.

“A motion could be submitted in Parliament to make equal the position of all religions in the country.”

He said the Rukun Negara was different from Pancasila, the five principles which serve as the foundation of the Indonesian state.

He said Pancasila was introduced because “many Indonesians were then not aware they had a constitution”.

“In our case, we’ve always known the Federal Constitution to be the supreme law of the land.”

Activists want Rukun Negara made part of Constitution