Commentary on Objective
When the Rukunegara was proclaimed on the 31st of August 1970, it contained commentaries on the five objectives and five principles. Taking into account, significant changes that have occurred over the last 46 years, the RMP group has rendered those commentaries more current and contemporary – while ensuring that they continue to reflect the spirit of the original commentaries.
Commentary on Objective 1
To achieve greater unity among Malaysians
One of the most complex multi-ethnic societies in the world, Malaysia has achieved a remarkable degree of inter-ethnic peace over the last six decades. It has established a pattern of power-sharing which takes into account the historical background of the land and contemporary realities; reduced to some extent ethnic disparities in the socio-economic sphere; and protected individual ethnic identities while evolving an attachment of sorts to the larger nation and some of its forms and symbols.
But much more needs to be done. Political inclusiveness has to be enhanced by consciously breaking down ethnic barriers in various spheres. There is still a degree of identification of community with activity in both the public and private sectors that does not conduce towards inter-ethnic interaction and integration. Ethnic identity consciousness remains strong and often results in ethnic polarization. Religion is increasingly emerging as a conduit for the type of exclusivity that undermines inter-religious harmony and understanding. And Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak are more vocal now in demanding that the rights and autonomy promised them at the time of the formation of Malaysia in 1963 are fulfilled.
Effective measures should be taken from now to improve interaction and integration in the economy, in administration, in education and in politics. Gaps between classes, communities and regions should be bridged. Malaysians should not only become more conscious of the common values they share but also of the interests that bind them as citizens of the same country. Those who wield power and influence from all communities should demonstrate the will to create an environment that strengthens the people’s commitment to a shared destiny.
Commentary on Objective 2
To maintain a democratic way of life
A democratic way of life is characterized by certain fundamental beliefs, principles, institutions, practices and processes.
The belief in the sacredness of life and in the dignity of each and every human being is the cornerstone of a democratic way of life. There should also be respect for differences of opinion, and the legitimacy of peaceful dissent should be recognized as a prerequisite for the effective functioning of a democratic society. Democratic governance is only possible if there is sincere adherence to the principles of accountability and transparency.
A democracy by definition is committed to the protection and advancement of universally recognized human rights. Rights go hand in hand with the discharge of human responsibilities which are crucial for the well-being of society as a whole. When rights are balanced with responsibilities, consensus and cooperation will evolve more easily and help to strengthen the foundation of Malaysian democracy.
This is integral to the practice of power-sharing which is crucial to the success of democracy in a society like ours. Not only should all cultural and religious communities feel that they share power; citizens from all regions in the Malaysian Federation should also share power in a just and equitable manner. This is especially important for the people of Sabah and Sarawak.
A genuine federal polity and a just and fair electoral system will contribute immensely to a democratic way of life. They give meaning to popular participation and citizens’ rights.
Similarly, an independent judiciary, a representative Parliament and a responsible, answerable and accountable executive are necessary for enhancing the democratic impulses of our nation.
There are also other pre-requisites related to economic and social justice that are critical for the maintenance of a democratic way of life.
Commentary on Objective 3
To create a just society in which the wealth of the nation is equitably shared
Disparities between communities and regions are not our only challenges today. An equally grave challenge is posed by intra-community disparities. If disparities in all their manifestations have become more serious, it is partly because of the economic philosophy that the state and private capital subscribe to. It is a philosophy that is orientated to the interests of the elite — even if the rhetoric is something else. It is in fact the planet’s leading credo.
If we are committed to distributing the nation’s wealth equitably, we have to move away from this philosophy and embrace ideas and approaches which resonate with the first principle of the Rukunegara: the belief in God. The dignity of the human being and justice for the people would be our primary concerns. We would examine critically the ownership and control of resources, the structure of capital, and the pattern of incomes in the country. We would transform the type of education we offer the young and enhance their level of skills.
The changes we would introduce will increase the wealth and raise the incomes of the majority. Consequently, it will reduce disparities within communities, between communities and between regions. The equitable wealth distribution that we envisage will equalize opportunities. It will lead to a situation where there will be greater emphasis upon need rather than ethnicity in the management of the economy. It will also help to check abuses of ethnicity and identity by a few for a few. A different philosophy and a different approach may well help to create a just society.
Commentary on Objective 4
To ensure a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions
A liberal approach to Malaysia’s rich and diverse cultural traditions suggests an accommodative and inclusive attitude on the part of the multi-ethnic citizenry towards one another. It suggests acceptance and celebration of our religious and cultural diversity. It suggests respect for the religious and cultural rights of each and every Malaysian.
Respect for the other has to become an integral part of an evolving Malaysian identity. Through the family, religious and cultural institutions, the school and the media, one can strengthen respect for one another. Respect has to be reinforced by empathy. It is only when inter-ethnic empathy is strong that Malaysia will become an outstanding example of a successful multi-ethnic nation that offers hope for the whole of the human family.
To nurture empathy, knowledge and understanding of our rich religious and cultural diversity is essential. Bigotry, chauvinism and communalism should be eliminated. Both state and society will have crucial roles to play in this.
Commentary on Objective 5
To build a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology
While the characteristics of a progressive society are multi-dimensional, it is widely accepted that science and technology would play a significant role in such a society. Research in the basic sciences would be given much emphasis for it is this sort of research that generates much needed innovation. The education system at different levels should be geared towards this goal. Industry should also play its part.
At the same time, technology would be harnessed as a tool for just, sustainable development. It would at all times serve the human being rather than merely expand the profits accruing to capital. Indeed, both science and technology should help to enhance human dignity and strengthen social justice.
A progressive society that remains sensitive to justice and dignity would also give equal attention to arts and the humanities. Both state and society would mobilise maximum resources to provide support to various artistic and cultural endeavours. Preserving the enduring facets of our own cultures while remaining open to positive external influences would be the guiding principle as we strive towards a progressive future.