KUALA LUMPUR: A group has launched a call to push for the Rukunegara to be the preamble to the Federal Constitution.
The initiative aims to advocate for the objectives and the principles of the declaration to be used as a guide in public policies and law making.
Championed by a group of civil society leaders, the initiative is also known as Rukunegara Sebagai Mukadimah Perlembagaan (RMP).
The initiative’s chairman Dr Chandra Muzaffar said Rukunegara had been sidelined over the years, giving way to trends that threatened national unity and integrity.
“If such trends gain more influence in the future, characteristics of our country will change.
“This is why we, Malaysians, have to remind ourselves of Rukunegara and how important it is as a vision of comprehensiveness and inclusivity,” he said at the launch of RMP at the Malaysian Institute of Integrity.
The RMP has been endorsed by more than 100 prominent members of civil society.
They include constitutional expert Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, social activists Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir and Zainah Anwar, academicians Prof Datuk Dr Tan Chong Tin and Assoc Prof Dr Madeline Berma and lawyer Firdaus Husni.
The group invited adult Malaysians to come forward and support its initiative via a signature campaign within the next three months until April 30.
Their signatures would be presented to the Conference of Rulers in the hope that the latter would advise the Cabinet and Parliament to adopt Rukunegara as the preamble to the Constitution.
The Rukunegara was formulated by the National Consultative Council headed by then deputy prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein following the May 13 riot, and presented to the nation on Aug 31, 1970 as an ideology to establish a common platform for Malaysia’s diverse communities to live together.
However, in the opinion of the group, it has now become mostly decorative without serving its visions of enhanced unity, democratic lifestyle, a just society where the country’s prosperity is enjoyed by all in a fair manner, a liberal approach in rich and diverse cultural traditions, and a progressive society with modern science and technology.
The Rukunegara rarely goes beyond the weekly recital at school assemblies.
In explaining the rationale behind the RMP campaign, Dr Chandra said that the Rukunegara should be the source of reference in the establishment of laws, the guideline in drawing up policies, and the way of life for the people.
Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, adviser to the G25 group of prominent Malays, said that although the country had achieved significant economic gains, there have been legislative and political divisions that undermined the rule of law and integrity of governmental institutions, especially the Parliament, judiciary and legal service, and the civil administration.
“There are groups trying to amend the Constitution to increase the power of religion through clauses on Syariah, threatening the secular character of constitutional democracy and freedom of citizens.
“If we use the Rukunegara as the preamble to the Federal Constitution, its five principles will capture the purposes and intention of the Constitution.
“This will create a system of law and order to protect the rights of the individuals,” Mohd Sheriff added.