Chandra: Ex-CJ wrong about Rukun Negara

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PETALING JAYA: Social activist Chandra Muzaffar has shot down a former chief justice’s objection to a proposal to attach the Rukun Negara to the Federal Constitution as a preamble.

Chandra rejected Abdul Hamid Mohamad’s claim that the Rukun Negara was “not necessarily” drafted by legal experts. He pointed out that three lawyers sat in the National Operations Council (NOC), which guided the drafting of the national philosophy.

The NOC was headed by then deputy prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein, who was himself a barrister. The other two lawyers in the council were Abdul Kadir Shamsuddin and Hamzah Abu Samah who both went on to become Attorney General.

Others in the NOC were community leaders, academicians, businessmen and politicians from the ruling as well as opposition parties.

Chandra also dismissed Abdul Hamid’s claim that the Rukun Negara’s call for an equal and united society could undermine the constitution’s provision of a special position for the Malays and the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak.

He said the special position of the Malays and East Malaysian Bumiputeras was entrenched in the constitution and could not be amended by Parliament.

“Only the Conference of Rulers can change this,” he said. “The same goes with special provisions on language, citizenship and the position of the Malay rulers.”

Chandra said a preamble would act as a compass and couldn’t be used to enforce laws. This meant that it couldn’t override provisions in the constitution, he added.

“So the question of conflicting provisions doesn’t arise.”

The campaign to make the Rukun Negara a preamble to the Federal Constitution was launched last January by civil society activists led by Chandra. It aimed to approach MPs and the Conference of Rulers for their support.

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

Former top judge rejects Rukun Negara as part of constitution