Rotciv R.


National Ideology and Politics Malaysia

Written Report

In the first place, we come to a question why a country needs a national ideology? Does a government need a set of ideas to govern its policies and actions or, is it even willing to succumb to such ideas? Moreover, are the peoples in a country willing to be subjected to a certain ideology that will define their everyday lives? In this paper, I will examine the national ideology of Malaysia, what precursors gave about to its creation and the role it plays in the society as well as its influence in government policies and actions. In addition, I shall also include a generalization whether there is an indication of success or failure of the ideology in its given purpose. The Rukun Negara is the national ideology of Malaysia. It is basically a declaration of national philosophy that was instituted during the 1970’s to bring about peace and unity among all the people in Malaysia in reaction to a race riot that happened a year before. The declaration of the Rukun Negara constitutes five tenets that are partly based on the Indonesian Pancasila. The five principles of the Rukun Negara are 1.)Belief in God 2.)Loyalty to King and Country 3.)Upholding the Constitution 4.)Rule of Law 5.)Good Behaviour and Morality. These five tenets that constitute the Rukun Negara were formulated to serve as a guideline for the country’s nation building effort and were proclaimed by the Yan di-Pertuan Agong IV. The May 13, 1969 incident, regarded by the Time magazine as one of the most violent racial riots during those times, proved that Malaysian racial balance and stability was very fragile at best. The May 13 incident led to a Declaration of National Emergency by the Malaysian government, led to the suspension of the Parliament itself and the creation of a temporary governing body known as the National Operations Council which became the government of Malaysia for almost 2 years, from 1969- 1979. The convening of the Parliament and the formulation and institutionalization of the Rukun Negara followed after.

the peak of the Sino-Malay antipathy happened during the general elections of 1969. known as ketuanan melayu. still the Malays claimed that this was not enough and clamored for supremacy and domination of their race. consisting of the Peninsular Malaysia. with special privileges given to the Malays. prior to the May 13 incident are different precursors that led to the brutal racial riots that eventually led to the creation of the Rukun Negara and its proclamation as the national philosophy of Malaysia. However.However. Campaigns were bitterly fought between the party leaders and its supporters. North Borneo and Sarawak suffered from a very disparate division of wealth between the Chinese. who were perceived to have possession of the greater part of the Malaysian economy. The key party players during the elections of 1969 were the Pan Islamic Party (PAS). awarding of public scholarships. Thi s outburst of the Malay passion for supremacy and dominance. were deeply Malay-based. with the perception of the Malays that the government is acting to be more favorably inclined with the Chinese. who were perceived to be poor and rural. The Chinese opposition questioned the basis and the nature of the privileges given to the Malays and mounted a Malaysian Malaysia. On its formation in 1963. The “bumiputra” and the Chinese were among these indigenous Malaysians. even with the expulsion of Singapore. and the Malays. racial tension still continued to rage. The roots of the Sino-Malay grudge dated back to the formation of Malaysia itself. even led to the enshrinement of Malay as the national language. Racial and religious sentiments that were presented by party leaders fueled the already burning tensions between the Chinese and the Malays. while the Democratic Action Party . Singapore. which accused the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) of selling the rights of the Malays to the Chinese. This led to a smaller racial riot during 1964 and eventually to the expulsion of Singapore from the Malaysian federation. admission to public education institutions and giving the Malays monopoly on different trades. while other indigenous Malaysians were not granted the same. Politics in Malaysia. boiling passions on both sides. The Malaysian Malaysia is a confederation of political parties aimed to oppose the article in the Malaysian Constitution (Article 153) providing special quotas to Malays in admission to public service. However. the Malaysian federation. during these times however. This contributed also to the expulsion of Singapore from the federation and moreover.

the riot began in the capital Kuala Lumpur and spread throughout the city in just 45 minutes. The struggle has become clearly than ever the Malay extremists’ fight for total hegemony. passed without any incident with the result showing that the Alliance had gained majority of the Parliament and even tying up with the Opposition for the control of states which showed great setbacks at the polls. Various other casualty figures have been given. On May 16 the National Operations Council (NOC) was established by proclamation of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King of Malaysia) Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah.000 Kuala Lumpur residents . 18 July 1969. with one thesis from a UC Berkeley academic.time. a counter procession for the actions of the opposition. The run-up to polling day was tainted by 2 deaths from both sides. http://www. the largely Chinese Opposition DAP.(DAP) accused the Malaysian Chinese Association(MCA) of giving in to the UMNO. Rioting immediately began after the start of the retaliatory parade.901058. Malay leaders angry at the election results used the media to attack their opponents raising public tension yet again between the Malay and Chinese communities. 753 cases of arson were logged and 211 vehicles were destroyed or severely damaged. Incidents of violence still occurred weeks after May 13 and the targets also included the Indians. Election however.9171. According to Time Magazine. putting the total dead at ten times the government figure.00. as well as Time. The DAP moreover espoused the Malaysian Malaysia to deprive the Malays of their special constitutional rights. but deviated to the Malay city of Kampun Baru.1 According to police figures. On the other hand. 1. which gained a few seats in the parliament secured for a police permit to hold a victory parade in the Chinese dominated Kuala Lumpur. The government ordered an immediate declaration of a State of national emergency and the suspension of the However. which would ignite the what we now know as the May 13 incident. An estimated 6. and jeered at the inhabitants. headed by Tun Abdul Razak. the NOC became 1 "Preparing for a Pogrom". p. With Parliament suspended. On May 13. 90% of them Chinese were made homeless. 196 people died and 149 were wounded. the UMNO youth demanded a retaliatory parade. .html. Time. 1969.

and recently.. mood of the Malays with a background of Sino-Malay distrust. These include a generation gap and differences in interpretation of the constitutional structure by the different races in the country. State and District Operations Councils took over state and local government. The Rukun Negara was a part of a three step plan to establish stability of the racial balance and of the economic developments of the country.. The problem here therefore is that since it cannot be discussed in Parliament. intemperate statements and provocative behaviors of certain racialist party members and supporters during the recent General Election. the incitement. One very interesting observation is that the parliament did not amend the constitution regarding the sensitive issues but moved only to ban for its discussion. October 1969” The Rukun Negara therefore was created after two years of National Operations Council government. The final step was the establishment of the New Economic Policy which is part of the 5 year . just after the General Elections.. and later desperate. The Rukun Negara was based partly on the Indonesian Pancasila.. and the citizenship rights of all racial groups.the supreme decision-making body for the next 18 months. and the anxious. the convening of the long suspended Parliament which will be regarded as the most important step from the racial rioting in 1969. it therefore cannot be reversed. These sensitive racial issues include the primacy of the Malay language in government and education.. the special rights and privileges granted to Malays by the 1957 constitution. “The eruption of violence on May 13 was the result of interplay of forces. The second step therefore was the creation of a national ideology which will be the national philosophy of the country known as the Rukun Negara. the part played by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) and secret societies in inciting racial feelings and suspicion. Every policy formulated by the parliament is to conform to the national philosophy of Malaysia to achieve the coveted national unity and development. a report by the National Operations Council. as a result of racial insults and threat to their future survival in their own country' ” — Extract from The May 13 Tragedy. The first step in order to achieve the goals of the Rukun Negara was of course. The opening of the parliament was preceded by the warnings of the NOC chief and the new Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak that the first order of business by the Parliament was the amendment of the Malaysian Constitution to ban discussion of sensitive racial issues.

Thus. Moreover. in which Rukun Negara is a part. Thus. Primarily. with a substantially reduced strength of the opposition parties and with the prohibition of public discussion of ‘sensitive issues’ the Tun Razak government enjoyed a stronger political position. to creating a just society in which the wealth of the nation shall be equitably distributed. respect of other religious denominations is not taken for granted. through the Rukun Negara. upholding the constitution.development plan of the Parliament designed to achieve the economic parity clamored for by the Malays with the wealthier and more advanced Chinese community. with the national coalition having a wider political base. rule of law. There is no actual measure of the failure moreover success of the Rukun Negara. regardless of ethnic or religious differences. We.” In the above passages of the Rukun Negara. The Rukun Negara is formulated as follows: “Our Nation. with the Alliance becoming the national front. . to maintaining a democratic way of life. pledge our united efforts to attain these ends guided by these principles: belief in God. one of the principles above recognizes the Malaysia’s multiethnic society and expresses the idea that mutual respect between the ethnic groups is necessary to achieve and maintain national unity. a number of major opposition parties to become partners in the grand national coalition. we can notice that the word God was used instead of Allah since majority of the Malaysian population is of Islamic belief. Through the threefold plan laid out by the administration. good behavior and morality. and could afford to exercise its strong political will to implement the NEP. and to building a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology. there was reduced politicking during the administration of Prime Minister Tun Ranzak. her peoples. loyalty to king and country. however. some efforts that was brought about by its creation should be considered. Malaysia. which originally consisted of three ethnically based political parties called the ‘Alliance’. The Rukunegara was formulated in an attempt to base national unity on certain concepts that are acceptable to all citizens. to ensuring a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural traditions. is dedicated to achieving a greater unity for all her peoples.

nevertheless. In this sense the Rukunegara could be considered as a major component in implementing affirmative action policies. economically equitable and progressive Malaysian nation. the implementation of the New Economic Policy therefore was considerably eased because of the widespread acceptance of the Rukun Negara which introduced a new mood and new orientation of nation building. Abdullah . that is. national unity. It evolved from close consultation and deliberation in the National Consultative Council and represented a national consensus and commitment to the task of creating a united. At first glance the Rukunegara might be perceived only as an effort to formulate a “national ideology” in a larger framework of nation building. socially just.2 2 Affirmative Action Policy in Malaysia: To Restructure Society. to Eradicate Poverty Firdaus Hj. complemented other efforts to achieve the NEP’s over-riding objective. Although it appears to be more rhetorical than substantive the Rukunegara.Thus. with the strong political support garnered by the Tun Ranzak government.

Universiti Teknologi MARA MALAYSIA The Rule of Law. Legal Traditions. 16 August 2007 08:16AM. MALAYSIA and Associate Professor Dr. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Online References: History of Malaysia from Wíkipedia. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA.Kurang Ajar And Kurang Di Ajar Date retrieved: 3/12/2009 http://article. MALAYSIA The Mediated Production of Ethnicity and Nationalism. Postill.wikipedia. Mohammad Hashim Kamali. Abdullah Reflections on the Rukun Negara Thursday. ©2006 by Wíkipedia. 21 July 2007 08:28AM Malaysiakini by Chandra Muzaffar MULTICULTURALISM IN ART EDUCATION: A MALAYSIAN PERSPECTIVE By : Badrul Isa Faculty of Education. S. Germany Opinion: Malaysia . Date retrieved: 3/12/2009 " . to Eradicate Poverty Firdaus Hj. Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. an imprint of the Gale Group.politictoday. Date retrieved: 3/12/2009 Rukunegara from Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Date retrieved: 3/12/2009 Date Retrieved 2/13/2009 . University of Bremen. John R. Molly LEE Nyet Ngo School of Educational Studies Universiti Sains Malaysia Penang. and Economic Growth in East Asia Meredith Woo-Cumings* May 2006 Islam in Southeast Asia K. Nathan. CHAN Lean Heng School of Social Sciences Universiti Sains Malaysia Penang. The Sun COUNTRY : MALAYSIA prepared by Associate Professor Dr.References: Affirmative Action Policy in Malaysia: To Restructure" Categories: Politics of Malaysia .com/ Reflections on the Rukun Negara Jacqueline Ann Surin Date Retrieved 2/13/2009 http://GovRukunegra.A secular or Islamic state? Saturday." Date Retrieved 2/13/2009 http://rapport_1/ The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Report Date Retrieved 2/13/09 "http://en.wikipedia.wikipedia.wikipedia."" Date Retrieved 2/13/2009 "" Date Retrieved 2/13/2009 "" Date Retrieved 2/13/09 .

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