PETALING JAYA: Social activist Chandra Muzzafar is disappointed that neither side of the political divide is fully committed to reaffirming the Rukun Negara as the national philosophy, months after the launch of an initiative to make it part of the Federal Constitution.
In January, Chandra along with other activists including Marina Mahathir, former Sisters in Islam director Zainah Anwar and law lecturer professor Shaq Faruqi, launched the “Rukun Negara sebagai Mukadimah Perlembagaan” (Rukun Negara as Preamble to the Constitution) campaign.
Seven months on, Chandra says they have received some support from civil society organisations and individuals, but the response from government and opposition parties has been lukewarm.
Chandra, who is director of the International Movement for a Just World, said this was despite the group behind the campaign having rebutted various criticisms against the move, including that it would threaten the position of the Malays and Islam.
Chandra pointed out that one of the principles of the Rukun Negara is the supremacy of the constitution, adding that the position of the Malays and Islam in the constitution is entrenched and cannot be amended by Parliament.
“We’ve sensed that there is still some uneasiness about making the Rukun Negara a preamble to the Federal Constitution, so while we’re still pushing for this, our focus now is on empowering the Rukun Negara.
“The main message now was that the Rukun Negara shouldn’t be ignored and must be read in totality,” said Chandra, who is also chairman of Yayasan 1Malaysia, a body formed in 2009 to promote national unity.
He said the Rukun Negara’s five principles and goals were linked and must be brought to the fore of the minds and hearts of the people.
“We hope that Parliament will adopt a resolution to reaffirm the Rukun Negara as the national ideology. This is something all political parties can commit to.”
In fact, Chandra said when the Rukun Negara was developed by the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) in the aftermath of the May 13, 1969 riots, opposition parties including PAS had been supportive.
He said DAP had then boycotted the NUCC because Lim Kit Siang was jailed, noting however, that in recent times, Lim had come out in support of the Rukun Negara.
“Sadly, if we look at the opposition parties today, they don’t seem to be too enthusiastic about the Rukun Negara. It is also disappointing that the government has seemingly forgotten about this important ideology which is our nation’s compass.”
Chandra said Malaysian leaders on both sides need to emulate Indonesian leaders who have shown a total commitment to upholding the republic’s charter, known as the Pancasila.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, in his recent annual address to Parliament, had spoken on the country’s need to hold fast to the principles of the Pancasila against a backdrop of growing religious radicalism and anti-Chinese sentiments.