The Rukun Negara.
What a wonderful set of principles.
The Rukun Negara means the Country's Principle.
They consist of very simple words. Have a look at them:
“1. Belief in God
2. Loyalty to the King and Country
3. The Supremacy of the Constitution
4. The Rule of Law
5. Courtesy and Morality.”
How outstanding, righteous, commanding and great they sound. Well, they have gusto too!
But here is my question for you: do we all practice them?
The first principle states, "Believe in God". It does not state, "Believe in the majority's God." So, it means that “God” is inclusive to everyone who believes in God and encouraged for all. A lot of us believe in God, whether in one religion or the other. But there is an underlying message in the first principle to the entire message of the Rukun Negara.
Let me show you how this message is delivered through its principles.
The second principle states "Loyalty to the King and Country". We pay our taxes, sing the Negaraku, and acknowledge the King when He walks. And even in a time of war in the Middle East, Malaysia, a Muslim brotherhood country, has not, had its people, screaming to kick its Rulers out. I do not see revolutions like the ones in Bahrain on the streets. I am told that the last public and civil war in Malaysia was in 1969. We also declare ourselves as Malaysians each time we sign booking documents, official forms and speak with our overseas counterparts. We whine about our lives sometimes, but we are so loyal that the outstationed Malaysians are fighting to vote in the elections!
That being said, in religion, one is taught to pay what is owed to the king, and be loyal.
The third principle states "The Supremacy of the Constitution". Late last year, I wrote an article in the local newspapers entitled, "Love does not hate or fear". If you had read the article, you may have noted that my article wrote about love and the ultimate message of love in Malaysia as found in the Constitution. Since then, I have been told that there are people who felt insulted by my article. The reason? I was told that I had implied that secondary laws are subservient to the Constitution. Well, here is the thing. See the Rukun Negara and Article 4 of the Federal Constitution. My case rests.
The fourth statement is "the Rule of Law". As a lawyer, my job is to interpret and give effect to the meaning of the law. But how apt the fourth principle is to its other principles.
As a rule of thumb, the Rule of Law means:
“No one is above the law”.
Minister-ships are not excluded.
The laws of Malaysia bind every Malaysian. You nor I are entitled to decide when to kill someone just because we think that we are above the law. The Constitution echoes:
"All persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection" (Article 8).
To be more interesting, the Constitution states, "all persons" and not "all Malaysian persons".
So, if you think about it, this means, Kadazans, women, immigrants, Indians, expatriates, transgendereds, children, Buddhists, the elderly are all equal before the law, right?
Well, don't fight me! Go change the Constitution and the Rukun Negara if you disagree!
I just see it as it is.
We are not above the law.
Then comes the best thing.
The fifth principle states "Courtesy and Morality".
The principle is short and simple. The message is powerful. Look at all the principles now and see this message: as a Malaysian, you are equal with everyone, and so, treat everyone with courtesy and morality.
Treat everyone, and not by background, race, religion, gender, strata, age or sexual orientation, with courtesy and morality. If there was an exclusion clause to the fifth principle, where is it? I do not see it!
The fifth principle is perhaps the most benevolent principle of all. It sings goodness, value, kindness, love and honour. And it is straightforward.
There is no courtesy and morality when you mark your authority on another person's religion. There is no courtesy and morality when you curse an entire race only because they are darker coloured than your own. There is no courtesy and morality when you deny your children their future because of their choices.
It is reported that the Prime Minister recently said something to this effect about the affair involving the 30,000 Bibles in Port Klang and Kuching Port:
"Why are we doing this to the Christians?"
Whether he was the Prime Minister, muslim or a man, I thought, "If this is true, what a wonderful and thoughtful man."
The issues I write here are not ones I take for a particular God or community. I write about issues that concern everyone, including non-Malaysians, who are affected by them. I can’t help but think:
“Why do we divide when we can be kind?”
I hope that we can practice the message of the Rukun Negara in our everyday lives. It is very easy for us to mutter and speak words and when we act differently towards others. If we are as good as we portray or tell to others, then I hope that we can continue to practice the simple principles of our Country’s principle. I believe that it does not hurt or harm us. In fact, I love seeing us greet each other with smiles, in love and humility like a family.
I agree with Mr. Fernandez of the Sun newspaper: "Humility is not a weakness".
Humility is strength. For those of us, humility is a principle that we should all live by, where we believe in God or not.
Let’s not be hypocrites. We already have enough of those in the world.
In fact, let’s have a look at the Rukun Negara and reflect on it today.
Then let’s take a look at ourselves in the mirror.