By Mohd Faizal Hassan
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 -- The Rukun Negara philosophy was created by taking into account the views from various parties including representatives from the races, political parties, professionals and academicians, as it was the basis for national unity and solidarity, according to Tan Sri Kamarul Ariffin Mohamed Yassin, who was appointed as a member of the National Consultative Council (MAPEN) in January 1970.
The former Bank Bumiputera chairman, who was the legal advisor to the Alliance Party and to the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, said the ordeal the country went through following the May 13, 1969 racial riots prompted the government to seek a crucial formula to unite its people at that time.
"When Parliament was suspended and could not convene due to the chaos at that time, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak Hussein (deputy prime minister) looked for ways to reunite the races in the country, among others by setting up MAPEN.
"As a result of the formation of MAPEN, which was chaired by Tun Abdul Razak, Rukun Negara was born," he said in an interview for a special Bernama TV documentary entitled 'Rukun Negara: A Nation United'.
The two-episode documentary, produced by Bernama in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Rukun Negara, will be aired between Aug 31 and Sept 19 by BernamaTV on the ASTRO Channel 502, Njoi 502, UnifiTV 631 and MyFreeView 121, apart from the BernamaTV official Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Kamarul Ariffin, 86, said among the members of the council at that time were prominent figures like the late Tan Sri Aishah Ghani, the late Tun Muhammad Ghazali Shafie, and the late Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim.
MAPEN sought to examine the issue of unity and find solutions to problems involving various races as well as acted as advisor to the National Operations Council (MAGERAN), which was administrating the country when it was in a state of emergency following the May 13 incident.
"When we were made aware of the riots that occurred in 1969, we had to find a formula to reunite the multiracial society in this country. It was how Rukun Negara was created; its existence is crucial to instil the sense of identity in the people of Malaysia and to bring all the races closer and close the gaps between the urban and rural areas,” he said.
Explaining the role of Rukun Negara, Kamarul Ariffin said it was created without discrimination, viewing all Malaysians as equal despite their different racial and religious backgrounds.
He said at that time, in spite of the shock brought about by the riots, the people pulled themselves together and adjusted to the situation to achieve the common goal of unity.
"They were becoming more aware of the importance of harmony and unity in the society to work together in developing the nation, especially when Rukun Negara had been created as the foundation for achieving national unity.
"When the Japanese came to Malaya, they made us go to one school. But after the war, we had schools for the respective races. How could we bring the people together?
"Rukun Negara is the unification of the people who should appreciate the values it represents, so that it lives on even for hundreds of years in order to maintain the peace and unity we have enjoyed for a long time," he added.
The former Dewan Negara senator said that each of the five principles of the Rukun Negara should be imbued in the hearts of every citizen as the key to long-term unity.
Taking the first principle, Belief in God, as an example, he said it proved that this country respected the beliefs and tenets of each of its citizens.
“It is important for Malaysians to respect all religions, and this in turn promotes national unity. It should not be only for a moment, it (show of respect) should be forever,” he said.
Kamarul Ariffin said the racial strife that the country faced in the 1969 incident should serve as a lesson in managing harmony and unity among the people to ensure that history did not repeat itself.
He stressed that the Rukun Negara philosophy should not be treated as a mere symbol; the five principles need to be nurtured in the lives of Malaysians to achieve a harmonious nation-state.
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