National Ideology (Rukunegara)–The Unity Glue

October 3, 2016

Malaysia: National Ideology (Rukunegara)–The Unity Glue

by Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos

Image result for National Unity for Malaysia

 A nation without an ideology is like a teenager without a direction. A direction of some sort, even a broad and general one, for example, to appreciate life and its gifts is essential to determine the quality of life.

It also acts as a fence that reminds the teenager to be wary of influences that may make him unappreciative of life’s gifts, such as indulgence in drug abuse.

Image result for The Racist Red Shirts in Malaysia


Likewise, a nation will just float along aimlessly and in conflicting directions if the people lack a national ideal they can use as a yardstick. I have written many times before, asking what is our national dream and philosophy, keeping in mind we are a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and cosmopolitan nation.

We require a common national philosophy and a set of national values that can unite us as Malaysians and guide our Malaysian spirit to evolve and grow. Like nurturing a child, a nation requires constant nurturing, too.

Today, we perceive our nation to be in a state of ethnic, religious, social and economic tatters. Madness in behaviour and speeches, and mediocrity in work and productivity appear to have become a national norm.

Our leaders have to be proactive to reverse this trend and correct the perception. If the leaders are able to remove the political cataract blinding their eyes, they will see the nation is crying out for a direction and a national philosophy all Malaysians can identify with.

As a nation that achieved independence, we were learning how to co-exist as Malaysians due to our diverse backgrounds.

We had our first racial clash, albeit politically originated, in May 1969. That was our first and I am sure our last bitter experience of a civil clash.

Image result for May 13 Riots in 1969

As a result of this bitter experience, our past leaders were wise to recognise the need for a national ideology which can be a guiding force to unite and provide a national direction for the people.

The National Consultative Council, headed by the late Tun Abdul Razak, had the unity and “soul” of the nation in mind when the principles of the Rukunegara were formulated.

What is so special about the Rukunegara? Firstly, everyone seems to have forgotten it was formalised as a national ideology through a declaration by none other than DYMM Yang diPertuan Agong on  August 31, 1970.

I learned the Rukunegara in school and I recall reciting it at school assemblies. It represented our national values. It has five main principles namely, Belief in God, Loyalty to the King and the country, upholding the Constitution, Rule of Law, and good behaviour and morality.

The purpose of instilling these five principles is explained by the preamble to the Rukunegara. The preamble provides Malaysia aspires to achieve a greater unity for all her people by:

  • Maintaining a democratic way of life;
  • Creating a just society in which the wealth of the nation is equitably shared;
  • Ensuring a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions, and;
  • Building a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology;

The Rukunegara contains not only universal values so relevant to a diverse society like ours, but it also sets a clear direction which we all can share to make this nation great. We really need to be united by common values before we are pulled apart by mischief makers in our society who are bent on dividing us.

Image result for The Racist Red Shirts in Malaysia

Image result for The Racist Red Shirts in Malaysia

What is urgently required now is the rebirth of Razak’s political will to give life to the principles of Rukunegara. I support the increasing call that the Rukunegara is made as a preamble to the Constitution of Malaysia.

This will allow the courts to interpret the Federal Constitution within the context of the national philosophy particularly with regards to the protection of the fundamental liberties of the citizens as enshrined in the Constitution.

It will also enable the protection of the constitutional monarchy and the parliamentary democratic political structure of our country.

If our current leadership has Razak’s wisdom, foresight and courage, I foresee discussions, conversations and the political will to promote the Rukunegara to the position it was meant to be.

However, as JUST International President Dr Chandra Muzzafar recently pointed out, since the 1980s, the Rukunegara seemed to have been systematically shunted aside. Is it any surprise then there is a feeling today that our nation seems to have lost its soul while we may have generally achieved major material progress?

I appeal to our current leadership to put back the soul in our nation.

* Jahaberdeen is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement which encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at

6 thoughts on “National Ideology (Rukunegara)–The Unity Glue

  1. Many of the leaders in UMNOb today were born after 1957 and many of those born before 1957 were probably in diapers when Tunku Abdul Rahman declared Merdeka Merdeka Merdeka.
    UMNOb in its effort to be relevant and to hold the Malay support have basically rewritten history of Malaya and the struggle for Independence. Today many Malaysians don’t even know or remember Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lok, Tun Sambanthan, Tun Sardon Jubir, Lim Yew Hock, Ong Yoke Lin, Manikavasagam, Senu Abdul Rahman, Tan Tong Hai (TH Tan) and many more personalities of that era who tirelesly worked towards Merdeka sacrificing everything including their own wealth and the jewelry of their wives.
    Todays UMNOb leaders don’t know what suffering is. All they know is how to reap the riches of the country without a care for the rakyat. All social development programs such as MARA, Tabung Haji, EPF, Cooperatives were mooted way before by the earlier leaders such as Tunku, Tun Razak, Tan Siew Sin, Prof Ungku Aziz, Arshad Ayob and many more. Yet today we seldom hear of these personalities. Instead we hear the shoutings of the likes of Rahman Dahlan, Syed Keruak, Ismail Sabri and gang.
    The youth of today are fed BN rewritten history which ignore the efforts and sacrifice of the leaders who fought for Merdeka and how Malayans and Malaysians live in peace and harmony with respect for each other custom and religion. Today Malaysian youth are taught to e devisive along racial and religious lines. The responsibility lies squarely on the shoulder of the BN government through the formation of BTN, JAKIM, and many other bodies that focus on individual race or religion. Time to change is now.

  2. In hindsight, our constitution and rukunnegara is flawed. It should have said something about corruption and accountability – it should have elaborated on that bargain between the people and the ruler more clearly.. Anti-Corruption should be have been answerable to Parliament, the people or the Agung..

  3. Orang Malaya, I don’t know these people at all. My first time reading those names. 🤣
    Tun Sardon Jubir, Lim Yew Hock, Manikavasagam, Senu Abdul Rahman, Tan Tong Hai (TH Tan)

  4. Unity In Diversity , has been the Constant & consistent message for all of Mankind in all books of knowledge and scriptures from ancient times…….

    What’s the glue at the heart of this call for Unity , can there be absolute unity , is there such ‘absolutes ‘ in human existence , to be able to ‘identify ‘ this Glue in the center of Unity In Diversity ? Such a postulate is beyond human comprehension !
    Or, perhaps , merely an ideal that hovers on human imagination to strive & strive for our common good. ?

    The so-called Glue at best, if I may suggest, is for all Malaysians to abide by the Constitution already in place since 1947 ……AND we all have to preserve it at all cost…..this flippant and constant call for Amendments all over the show from time to time , is in Derogation of (what must be understood as ) The Supreme ‘ Contract ‘ document , which transferred ” Tanah Melayu ” to now be given to ‘ Tanah Malaysia ” , and to constantly dig into a Document which must be regarded as Immutable – will be futile : IT IS SACRED AND SACROSANCT ( we should not abide by whims & fancies ) …….

    UNITY IN DIVERSITY at all costs , Lord Al’Mighty has decreed it as from Creation in His Absolute Wisdom , of our limitless Physical Universe ( Sir Isaac Newton calls the physical Universe as ” The Second Divinity ” )

    OK , Albert Einstein : (sorry for repetition ) :

    ” Science without erligion is lame , and religion without Science is blind ….”

  5. Interesting video from Al-Jazeera.

    Religion is THE answer to all social problems?
    In the real world, …….. not quite.

  6. Exactly katasayang, very few younger generation of Malaysians have even heard of these personalities. It pays to do some research and read up on them and their struggle and contributions to the independence of Malaya. Some later became Cabinet members while others continue to work behind the scene. To me these are the real heroes, not the likes of the present UMNOb leaders and their red shirts creations.

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