The challenge of a plural society is to create a harmonious and peaceful atmosphere leading to collaboration for the betterment of the country.
As Malaysia struggles to progress in the face of changing times, there is a need to revisit and develop our strengths based on shared values as a national identity and thus, create a cohesive society.
Shared values should be compatible with the religious beliefs and cultural practices in local communities, especially for a country as diverse as Malaysia.
Operating within local context is of paramount importance, as each country is unique. The dynamics and forces of a nation are woven into the fabric of societal interaction and interplay.
In Malaysia, we have Rukun Negara since 1970. Developed in the aftermath of the 13th May incident in 1969, the principles of Rukun Negara are aimed for creating harmony and unity among the various races in Malaysia.
To-date, Rukun Negara has played a major role in promoting a cohesive society in the country. There has been various challenges in the past decades no doubt, but the country remains intact and progressed to what it is today.
Specifically, Rukun Negara aims to achieve unity, preserve a democratic way of life, create a just society where the prosperity of the country can be enjoyed together in a fair and equitable manner, guarantee a liberal approach towards her rich and varied cultural traditions; and build a progressive society that will make use of science and modern technology.
After five decades, a critical evaluation on the achievement of the Rukun Negara’s goals is imperative. While some of the objectives might have been achieved, such as reduction in poverty incidence, others are still work in progress or require a rethink.
As Malaysia matures and faces different sets of realities and challenges, perhaps it is time to revisit Rukun Negara to impart a sense of national identity and pride into Malaysians, particularly for the new generation as well as future generations.
To meet current needs and prepare the country for the future, we believe there is a need to focus on shared values, some of which are already embedded in Rukun Negara.
The shared values should encompass spiritual, family, collaborative, ethical and knowledge values.
These shared values are critical to strengthen our nation and promote inclusivity as we strive to be a harmonious and prosperous nation.
Hj Badlishah Sham Baharin
President, Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia