Dr Mahathir sidelined Rukun Negara, says Chandra

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SHAH ALAM: Chandra Muzaffar says the Rukun Negara was neglected from the national narrative in the 1980s after former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad came into power.

Chandra, who is chairman of Yayasan 1Malaysia, called the sidelining of the Rukun Negara as one of the country’s greatest failures.

“Mahathir had an ideological understanding and a more capitalistic notion of Islam. He did not want the Rukun Negara to be pursued.

“Also, the Rukun Negara’s sub-committee was headed by then home minister Ghazali Shafie and the rivalry between Mahathir and Ghazali was well known,” he said.

Chandra was speaking at an open discussion on the “Moderation and Administration of Islam in Malaysia” at the Ideal Convention Centre (IDCC) here today.

He said that another reason for the neglect was the growing identity consciousness among the Malays after which an Islamic ethos began to develop during the same period.

Chandra said former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim also played a role in pushing aside the Rukun Negara after joining Umno in 1982, a year after Mahathir became PM, and became part of the administration.

“During Anwar’s time as minister in different capacities, he did not pay attention to the Rukun Negara as he had a sort of Islamic brotherhood notion of Islam which did not jive with the Rukun Negara,” he said.

Chandra said he feared that without the principles enshrined in the Rukun Negara, the country may not be as successful in countering politicians who are campaigning for “a type of Islamic order”.

“Compared with other countries, including our neighbours, we don’t have the power to resist this.

“This is not Indonesia. Pancasila is part of its constitution. Leaders have changed but no leader has changed the Pancasila because of that deep attachment the people have for it,” he said.