KUALA LUMPUR: Roman statesman and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero once said the happiness of the people depends on each individual’s virtue and obedience to the law.
This statement shows that a happy society cannot exist and human relations cannot be formed without rules and laws.
In countries where law and justice are not given utmost importance, it is easy to see disputes and tensions which cause peace and harmony to become dangerously fragile.
It is not impossible for such a situation to happen in Malaysia and threaten the unity of the people if the rule of law, which is the fourth principle of Rukunegara, is not upheld.
Constitutional expert Assoc Prof Dr Shamrahayu A. Aziz said the purpose of a law is not to punish but to maintain peace and stability for mutual benefit.
“In general, the government and the people are bound by law and must abide by it. This is the main principle of the concept of rule of law.
“All citizens are equal under the law, from commoners to top leaders.
“When the law is given utmost respect and priority, there will be no room for arbitrary actions, ” she told Bernama ahead of the July 9 celebration of the 50th anniversary of Rukunegara in conjunction with the Merdeka month and National Day.
The Rukunegara comprises five principles, namely Belief in God, Loyalty to King and Country, Supremacy of the Constitution, Rule of Law and Courtesy and Morality.
It was declared on Aug 31,1970 by the fourth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the late Tuanku Ismail Tuanku Nasirudin Shah, with the aim to foster unity among the multiracial people in Malaysia following the May 13 riots in 1969.
Elaborating on the fourth principle of Rukunegara, Prof Shamrahayu said the people of Malaysia have been seen as a society whose members are ready to stand in solidarity to face any challenges that come their way, which has been the key to the peace and harmony they enjoyed thus far.
She said this was evident when the movement control order (MCO) was enforced since March 18 to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“It is something for Malaysians to be proud of. The moment the government enforced the MCO, almost everyone in the country obeyed the order. This shows that our society understands the good purpose of the law, ” she said.
Prof Shamrahayu said effective communication between the leaders and people was also an important mechanism in the implementation of the law.
Former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said the country’s Constitution and its laws must be understood and obeyed to avoid tension, dissatisfaction and disputes, especially involving interracial relations in the country.
“Rukunegara is a philosophy that is vital in shaping the future of the country.
“If the five principles are not respected, the democratic institutions in our country will collapse and people’s unity will be destroyed, ” he said.
“This attitude of upholding the rule of law must be inculcated among the leaders so that society can emulate their good example, because if they do otherwise, how can the people follow suit?” he said. — Bernama