KUALA LUMPUR: Over 600 years ago, loyalty to the King proved to be the concept that helped build a Malay dynasty – the Malacca Sultanate which ruled the great entrepot of Malacca throughout its golden age.
The Sultanate began in the early 15th century with Parameswara, the founder and first Ruler of Malacca who became a Muslim and took the title Sultan Iskandar Shah in 1414, and who continued to lead the Kingdom to prosper and become an international trading centre - thanks to the bond of unity among the people and their loyalty to the King.
Fast forward to Malaysia today, Malay Rulers and the people remain inseparable.
As Malaysia practises constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the second principle of Rukunegara, Loyalty to the King and Country has become the mantra that upheld the sovereignty of the nation.
History and constitution expert, Prof Datuk Dr Ramlah Adam, said the role of the King in the Malaysian context today is more to strengthen the unity of the people despite the differences in their religion, race and political beliefs.
“The principle of Loyalty to the King and Country was included in the Rukunegara because it is expected to serve as a guide for all Malaysians to live their life in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
“We must understand that it was enshrined in the Constitution that the King is the head of state, and head of Islam...it has been the practice in this country for so long, even before the colonial era, ” she told Bernama in an interview ahead of the July 9 celebration of the 50th anniversary of Rukunegara in conjunction with Merdeka and National Day 2020.
Ramlah suggested that Rukunegara education be made a compulsory subject at schools and also colleges and universities so as to inculcate respect for the King and love for the country among the people, especially the young generation.
She also expressed hope for stricter law enforcement to protect the monarchy institution so that it would not be insulted and ridiculed to the extent of causing disharmony in the country.
According to Ramlah, the role of the King to maintain peace and harmony and strengthen the unity among the people in the country was well played by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah when he used his wisdom to solve the country’s leadership crisis earlier this year.
The Grand Imam of Masjid Negara, Ehsan Mohd Hosni, agreed with Ramlah’s opinion that Malaysians, especially Muslims, need to understand the principle of Loyalty to the King and Country as the key element in maintaining peace and harmony in the country.
He said pledging loyalty to the King at the federal level and the respective Ruler at the state level is part of Islamic teachings.
Ehsan said the perception that the monarchy institution is just a symbolic representation of an entity whose presence is only important in religious rituals must be corrected because Islam is a comprehensive (syumul) religion that covers all aspects of life.
Hence, apart from protecting Islam, he said the King is also responsible for ensuring that the special rights of Malays are well preserved, while the rights of the bumputra in Sabah and Sarawak remain protected.
“It is the King’s responsibility to protect the sanctity of Islam while ensuring that other religions can also be practised in peace and harmony in Malaysia, ” he said. — Bernama