Back to the national principles — Chong Lip Teck

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FEBRUARY 23 — Several renowned local scholars and social activists recently proposed to incorporate the Rukunegara as a preamble to the Federal Constitution.

A preamble is a preface outlining the fundamental purposes and guiding principles, aspirations and demands, values as well as ideals of a nation.

Take the United States for example, the constitutional preamble is only one short statement: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The constitutions of some 80 per cent of countries in this world are preceded by a preamble. Our Federal Constitution nevertheless does not have one, but that is not going to undermine its nobility in any way.

We are still able to understand the country's objectives and principles through the various articles defining the Constitution.

But then is it still necessary for us to include the Rukunegara as a preamble to our Constitution?

The scholars were of the view that due to the current state of division in this country, advocating the inclusion of Rukunegara as a preamble to the Federal Constitution could grant the national ideology its legal status in guiding the legislative, judicial and executive institutions of the country to make fair and just decisions on the sensitive racial and religious issues.

If we were to look at the various ethnic and religious issues taking place in the country of late, calls for the upholding of the Rukunegara and the defence of the Constitution are all the more essential.

This is because the drawing and implementation of many of our policies and laws are seen by some as having superseded the Constitution and Rukunegara without underscoring the philosophies of righteousness and equality. This has almost plunged the nation into a state of chaos. There is therefore this urgency for us to once again refer to the Rukunegara as our guiding principles.

I personally agree to such advocacy, especially at a time many Malaysians have very scarce understanding of the Rukunegara, few even able to name all the five principles. Students only recite the principles in weekly assemblies without thoroughly understanding their meanings.

Similarly, many are aware of the presence of the Federal Constitution, but few understand its actual content. These two points alone are enough to justify such an advocacy.

The gist of the Rukunegara goes like this: We pledge to materialze greater unity among Malaysians, preserve the democratic ways of living and build a fair and just society so that the country's wealth can be shared by all equitably to ensure the country's rich and diversified cultural heritage is freely practised, as we build a more progressive society of modern technology.

I have always believed that the various national visions mooted by our government leaders after Hussein Onn have set our sights on making Malaysia a great and progressive model country which will give her people hopes and dreams.

As a matter of fact, the spirit and principles embodied in these visions have already been wholly inscribed in the Rukunegara.

In a similar manner, as the most supreme law of the country, the Federal Constitution protects the fundamental rights and freedom of all citizens. No other laws or policies should supersede the Constitution, and anything that contravenes its intent is unconstitutional.

Both the Constitution and Rukunegara share the same values and spirit, and the incorporation of Rukunegara as a preamble to the Federal Constitution will not affect the noble quality of our Constitution, but will instead make these two important national documents more authoritative.

We are a free country and anyone can voice his own ideas whether to support or reject the arguments. The proposal to incorporate the Rukunegara as a preamble to the Federal Constitution has since drawn overwhelming reactions on the media and cyberspace, with proponents and opponents alike voicing their own arguments.

Even though I personally support this proposal, I have been seriously reading the comments of its opponents. This has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding and inspiration of both the Constitution and Rukunegara.

This I have benefited tremendously from English and Bahasa Malaysia sites, while such discussions are very rare in Chinese language forums. I am afraid no one has actually learned of such an advocacy, which is nothing unusual.

If we were to browse through Chinese language comments on the media and social media sites, discussions on constitutional matters have never been prominent in the first place.

Such discussions appear to have been absent from local Chinese organizations as well. At least I hardly see talks and seminars on such matters by local Chinese organizations. Chinese political parties and associations at best issue some statements and remarks on the need of upholding the Constitution without further elaboration in a bid to educate the local Chinese community of the importance of the spirit of our Constitution and Rukunegara.

It is therefore understandable that whenever an issue related to race and religion pops up in the country, instant reactions from the local Chinese community have been largely emotional and lacking in logic, especially those expressed on social media sites.

I suggest that we refer back to the Constitution and Rukunegara while stating our claims. This is of particular importance to the Chinese community, and should become an inevasible obligation of all citizens. — Sin Chew Daily

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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