National Unity Minister: ‘Liberal’ in Rukun Negara preamble embraces diversity

NATIONAL Unity Minister Datuk Seri Aaron Ago Dagang clarified today that the word “liberal” in the preamble of the Rukun Negara refers to accepting differences in a plural society. He pointed out the importance of understanding the term within the context of cultural diversity and unity.

In a statement issued today, Aaron noted that all sectors should avoid misinterpreting the use of the word in the declaration. He explained that one of the objectives of the Rukun Negara is to promote a liberal approach towards the nation’s rich and diverse traditional heritage.

“One of the ambitions of the Rukun Negara is ‘guaranteeing a liberal approach towards our traditional heritage that is rich and diverse’.

“In this context, the word ‘liberal’ refers to being open and accepting of cultural differences between the various races and ethnicities.”

The clarification follows discussions sparked by the reading of the full Rukun Negara in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday (Feb 27), particularly focusing on the inclusion of the word “liberal” in the declaration.

Many Malaysians primarily encounter the five principles of the Rukun Negara, often recited during school assemblies. This limited exposure led to speculation on social media that the inclusion of the term “liberal” was a recent modification introduced during the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led coalition government.

However, Aaron affirmed that the Rukun Negara remains unchanged from its original formulation on Aug 31, 1970.

In the political sphere, the term “liberal” stands in contrast to conservatism, which often perceives liberalism as a challenge to established cultural, societal, and religious norms.

The Rukun Negara was initially introduced as a foundational national ideology in response to the racially charged events of the May 13, 1969, riots, with the aim of fostering national unity and harmony. – Feb 28, 2024


Main photo credit: Bernama

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