Rukun Negara is wrongly interpreted in Moral textbook?

'Belief in God' is the first principle of Rukun Negara.

By Huzraifah Atikah

The Education Ministry has been urged to make a correction on the Rukun Negara’s first principle interpretation in Standard Six Moral Studies textbook.

International Movement for a Just World Malaysia president Dr Chandra Muzaffar said the Rukun Negara’s first principle, ‘Belief in God’ or ‘Kepercayaan kepada tuhan’ was meant for all faiths and not just Islam, and it had been wrongly interpreted in the textbook 

“It will be very sad if the textbook is not corrected,” he said. 

Chandra said the words implied in the Moral Studies textbook suggests and gave the impression that ‘Belief in God’ in the Rukun Negara meant accepting Islam as the official religion of the federation.

He also pointed out that the Rukun Negara was meant to be inclusive of all faiths be it Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and other faiths. It is not meant for a particular faith.

"Islam’s position as the official religion of the Federation was stated in the Federal Constitution and not the Rukun Negara," he added. 

Prior to that, a controversy happened after a picture of a mid-term exam paper for Moral Studies on the Rukun Negara section was widely shared on social media. 

The picture showed that the student had answered four questions related to the Rukun Negara but left out the question on what ‘Belief in God’ means.

The answer given was ‘to accept Islam as the official religion of the federation’. 

Following that, many Malaysians questioned the answer that was given on the exam paper.  

The headmaster of the primary school has come forward to clarify the controversy.

According to the headmaster, they were just following the government-issued ‘Pendidikan Moral’ textbook printed in 2015.

He said on Page 51 of the Year 6 Moral Studies textbook, it states that the Rukun Negara principle of ‘Belief in God’ can be followed by ‘accepting Islam as the official religion of the federation’.

In the same textbook, it also gives a second interpretation, which is to ‘respect all other religions and beliefs of other races’ or ‘Menghormati agama dan kepercayaan pelbagai kaum’.

“Our question paper follows the textbook. We did not twist any facts,” he said. 

Chandra said the Rukun Negara was drawn up by a National Consultative Council in January 1970.

He also said that ‘Belief in God’ was the first principle as the majority of Malaysians believed in God but it did not link it to any religion.

He added that the 2015 Moral Studies textbook was not in line with the Rukun Negara and the aspirations of the 1969 National Consultative Council.

“The textbook should not be just linking it to Islam. The book is wrong,” he added.

However, a Facebook user questioned Chandra claims regarding the textbook not being in line with the agreement in 1970 by saying:

Based on the Perdana official website, there are two definitions for the first principle of the Rukun Negara.  

“The People and Nation were established based on our strong faith in God. It is indeed in the name of God that the People and Nation were established as a sovereign People and Nation.

“Islam is the official religion of the Federation. Other religions and faiths can be practised in peace and harmony and the act of discriminating a citizen in the name of a religion is forbidden,” it stated on the website.