What Rukunegara means to me

By Dyana Sofya

I never knew the importance of Rukunegara. It brought no meaning to myself and my friends in school, we memorised the Rukunegara after reciting it every Monday during school assemblies after a few weeks in Darjah Satu and we continued the same routine for years.

Rukunegara was even on the back of every notebooks we owned. Still, I was clueless as to why we had to raise our right hand and recite them every Monday during compulsory school assemblies and I never bothered to find out. I never read about it in books or in the newspapers, although I was a regular Utusan reader back in my teenage years, reading it at my neighbour’s house since my father only buys the Star (I never went a day without reading the Star back then). Our teachers never told us why we even had Rukunegara.

When I was reading law in UiTM, again Rukunegara was never mentioned. Although we can still recite it word by word, we never cared about it, never knew the importance of it, left alone to understand the history, the reason behind Rukunegara and why is it so important to instil the values of Rukunegara in every Malaysians. Even my favourite, patriotic, selfless, constitutional law lecturer never said anything about Rukunegara!

So what is Rukunegara is all about?

Rukunegara is Malaysia’s national ideology. It was formulated with the purpose to serve as a guideline in the country’s nation-building efforts. The Rukunegara was proclaimed on August 31, 1970 by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong IV, Almarhum Tuanku Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Sir Zainal Abidin III Muazzam Shah

The pledge of the Rukunegara is as follows:

“Our Nation, Malaysia is dedicated to: Achieving a greater unity for all her people; maintaining a democratic way of life; creating a just society in which the wealth of the nation shall be equitably distributed; ensuring a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural tradition, and building a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology.

We, the people of Malaysia, pledge our united efforts to attain these ends, guided by these principles:

 Belief in God (Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan)
 Loyalty to King and Country (Kesetiaan kepada Raja dan Negara)
 Upholding the Constitution (Keluhuran Perlembagaan)
 Sovereignty of the Law, and (Kedaulatan Undang-undang)
 Good Behaviour and Morality (Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan)

Now, let’s ask ourselves, when was the last time we recited the Rukunegara? Do we really practise our pledge as stated in the Rukunegara? Because these are not mere words, but a national ideology, a guideline, a checklist to what makes you qualified to be a true Malaysian.

I am pretty sure that there are groups of extremists who could not even recite the five principles by heart or even appreciate the meaning of our own Rukunegara and still claimed themselves to be a “nationalist”, “defenders” of the Malay rights and the religion of Islam.

The word ‘liberal’ was mentioned in our Rukunegara, so what is this about Malay groups who railed against recent calls to remove the ‘race’ category from official forms suggested by a federal minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, calling the proposal a sure sign of creeping ‘liberal thinking’ within Prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration.

Dear Perkasa and ISMA, our national ideology has the word ‘liberal’ in it. Go crazy.

The Rukunegara stated clearly that we have pledged to ensure a liberal approach to Malaysia rich and diverse cultural tradition. (Yes, even in the Bahasa Melayu version.)

These extremists are acting against our very own Rukunegara, when we are supposed to uphold the values and principles in our Rukunegara which makes one a true Malaysian.

We should be dedicated to, among others, achieve greater unity for all Malaysians, maintain a democratic way of life, create a just society, not display class-less chicken and slap act, or declaring it is halal to murder demonstrators, calling each other names such as bughah and kafir harbi in order to prove who is more Malaysian. Where was our Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan? The fifth principle in the Rukunegara.

Don’t ever let these extremists tell you that you are any less of a Malaysian. Probably these extremists would have the shock of their lives after realising that there are non-Malay, non-Muslim Malaysians who are even more Malaysian than they ever were.

I am glad that as a Malaysia-loving citizen, I now understood the meaning of Rukunegara and pledge my efforts guided by the five principles.

So now I suggest we raise our right hand up and recite the now understood and memorised by heart Rukunegara together, from “Maka kami, rakyat Malaysia berikrar….

Dyana Sofya is the political secretary to DAP’s MP for Gelang Patah, Lim Kit Siang

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