KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — Calling themselves the “Rukunegara Muqaddimah Perlembagaan” (RMP), a group of seven activists today kicked off the move to push for the Rukunegara or National Principles to be made a preamble of the Federal Constitution.

Without stating an exact number of people it hoped to get to support the inclusion of the Rukunegara in the Constitution, RMP's head Chandra Muzaffar said his team has set a benchmark of up to April 30 to collect as many signatures as possible through its newly created website.

Chandra said the group will also will submit an application with the Rulers Council in hopes that it would advise the Cabinet and Parliament to act accordingly.

“Only through the amending the Constitution can we include the Rukunegara as the preamble,” he said in his speech at the launch of the group's campaign.

Others in the movement are: Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, human rights lawyer Firdaus Husni, Professor Madya Dr Madeline Berma who is director of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Tun Fatimah Hashim Women’s Leadership Centre, law professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, Musawah global movement director Zainah Anwar and Professor CT Tan.

At a press conference later, Chandra could not give an exact date when asked when the group was expected to submit the letter with the Rulers' Council.

The Rukunegara are five principles introduced by the government following the race riots of 1969. They are: belief in God, loyalty to king and country, the supremacy of the constitution, the rule of law, and civility and decency.

As the name “National Principles” suggest, they are philosophies rather than rules, and contain ideals that the government hoped would encourage national unity in the wake of deadly racial unrest.

The Rukunegara is taught to all students in local schools, and regularly recited during school assemblies to reinforce their recall.

Those who wish to support the cause can do so here.