Rukun Negara: A timeless guide for Malaysia's path to harmony

Malaysia is well known for its diversity, people, culture, and more. Because of that reason, we are a good example to other countries about living in harmony.

The question is: How strong is our unity and integration actually?

There was a time when unity was our bedrock. Except for the May 13, 1969 tragedy and a few occasions when there was misunderstanding among sections of the population in a few areas, there was generally unity among the people.

We mixed freely, had similar experiences in schools, visited each other's homes, celebrated all the different festivities, and shared food in common eating areas.

We were respectful of each other's religions and exercised tolerance over differences in colour or creed. Yes, we had unity in diversity, and we celebrated it in a spirit of give and take.

Over time, however, we have seen an erosion of that unity. What we are now seeing is polarisation and segregation and becoming more intolerant of our differences.

The main cause of this is systemic—the system of education, the system of administration, and the different justice system. The cause is in our institutions.

If left to themselves, the people are generally very accommodative and tolerant. This is even so today, as can be seen in places where there is hardly any discrimination, such as hospitals, and in some NGOs and clubs.

With a new unity government and given the right kind of leadership, we must halt that trend and create a newer version of a tolerant and multi-racial society.

It is good to see Malaysian togetherness in helping each other, especially during hard times; we can see unity and cooperation between Malaysians in tackling humanitarian issues.

During the pandemic period, we have demonstrated how the rakyat – regardless of race, colour, creed, or location – can be united in the face of common hardships. This pandemic has also united Malaysians beyond race and religion, rendering help to the needy and the deserving.

Over the years, I have witnessed how national disasters have brought together Malaysians to help victims and families. Our national sportsmen and women have united Malaysians, too, when they take on their opponents.

We need politics and responsible politicians to helm the country, to develop the economy, and help advance common and universal values while downplaying our differences.

Unfortunately, there are some politicians who thrive on emphasising – and even ridiculing—our differences. These few politicians are driving a wedge among the people and promoting fear and intolerance.

Hopefully, their selfish motives will be rejected by the majority, and we will once again see unity in diversity.

Unity is critical in creating a stable nation, which, in turn, will have a positive impact on the economy and the well-being of the people.

Unity is the essential ingredient for peace, prosperity, and economic recovery. If we are united, we will put our shoulders to the wheel and pull and push in the right direction and not against each other. Yes, unity will lead to harmony, and harmony will hasten the process of economic recovery.

In a multicultural society, it is of paramount importance to learn and appreciate the cultural heritage of the different communities. Otherwise, there will be mistrust, suspicion, and intolerance, all because of misunderstanding each other's origins.

That's why it is important to teach our children in schools about the cultural and historic heritage of all races that make up Malaysia.

There is no doubt that there are some quarters who thrive on conflict for their selfish purposes. And they use every means possible to advance their agendas. For them, social media is ideal for their purposes. And so, they spew venom at every twist and turn.

The people must be wary of these attempts. They must apply their own common sense and their sense of values to reject such attempts that are generally advanced by cybertroopers.

Every Malaysian citizen must know the Rukun Negara or National Principle that has been instilled in our lives. What is your opinion on the younger generations understanding of the National Principle?

I have always and constantly advanced the view that the Rukun Negara must be the cornerstone of our existence. In fact, recently I have also been promoting the idea that whenever MPs speak in Parliament, they must constantly make reference to the Rukun Negara and abide by its principles.

This must be taught from a very young age—in schools. We must make it compulsory for children to read books that promote the principles of Rukun Negara. The Rukun Negara was adopted in the early 1970s as an attempt to nurture and promote good universal values among Malaysians. That need is more urgent now than ever before.

Remember the song "We Shall Overcome"? This song became the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. It offered courage, comfort, and hope as protesters confronted prejudice and hate in the battle for equal rights for African Americans.

And so shall we in Malaysia. We shall overcome. Kita perlu Bersatu padu.

My hope is for every Malaysian to feel he or she has a place under the Malaysian sun.

Our nation is blessed with so many resources that there is enough for everyone's needs, but not for everyone's greed.



Malaysia Unity Foundation

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