KUALA LUMPUR: Gripped by pandemic fatigue and having to deal with the loss of jobs and livelihoods, many people are not paying close attention to adhering to the principles of Rukun Negara.
As pointed out by the World Health Organisation in a publication released in October last year, pandemic fatigue is an expected and natural response to a prolonged public health crisis that can affect the emotions, perceptions and behaviour of a person.
Prof Datuk Dr Baharudin Puteh, who is a professor at the Faculty of Language and Education, Universiti Melaka, observed that of late there has been an erosion in the understanding and practice of the five philosophies of the Rukun Negara due to the challenges faced by the people.
He said in the light of the current circumstances, the authorities concerned must take proactive steps to rekindle the spirit of the Rukun Negara and inspire Malaysians to work together to steer the nation towards the attainment of advanced nation status.
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Rukun Negara, which was proclaimed on Aug 31, 1970, by the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Almarhum Tuanku Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Zainal Abidin.
Regarding the national-level Yang di-Pertua Negeri Melaka Cup Rukun Negara Oratory Competition, Dr Baharudin said it is a good effort as all sections of society can participate in the contest, organised by the Office of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Melaka in collaboration with the Melaka state government and Ministry of National Unity.
To participate in this competition, contestants must submit a seven-minute video of their speech via email to email@example.com. The videos have to be submitted between July 5 and 31.
“If we were to take a closer look, many people still don’t have a proper understanding of why the Rukun Negara was formulated. If we look at its history, it was formulated and proclaimed on Aug 31, 1970, following the racial riots of May 13, 1969. We should continue to uphold the principles of the Rukun Negara because they are the key to harmony and unity of all the races in Malaysia.
“We admit that pandemic fatigue and stress caused by the current situation have driven some of us to violate the principles of Rukun Negara. This is why it is so important to hold an oratory competition as it would enable Malaysians to channel their ideas and views to revive this nation,” said Dr Baharudin, who is also head of the oratory competition secretariat.
Contestants must base their points on the second and third principles of the Rukun Negara, namely Loyalty to King and Country and Supremacy of the Constitution, in addition to presenting arguments relevant to the prevailing situation.
The Yang di-Pertua Negeri Melaka Cup Rukun Negara Oratory Competition was organised last year at the state-level by the Tun Perak Institute.
Dr Baharudin said the entries for this year’s competition will go through the first round of evaluation from Aug 9 to 12. The videos shortlisted for the semi-finals will be assessed on Aug 16 and 17.
If the situation permits, the finalists will participate in the final round of the competition on Aug 21 at Dewan Besar Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka.
There are five categories of participation. The first category is open to members of the public, second for students from institutions of higher learning, third for secondary school students, fourth for primary school students and fifth for non-Malays.
Cash prizes ranging from RM300 and RM5,000 and other prizes are up for grabs.
Explaining why the second and third principles of the Rukun Negara were selected as the subject matter for the oratory competition, Dr Baharudin said these two principles appear to have been the hardest hit in terms of understanding and appreciation.
“If we were to ask the people which principle they adhere to the most, the majority of them will surely say Belief in God (the first principle of the Rukun Negara) as most Malaysians hold fast to their respective religions.
“The same goes for the Good Behaviour and Morality principle as we have been seeing people eagerly extending a helping hand to those who were badly hit by the pandemic,” he said.
“We want to educate the people on the importance of revering the royal institution and the ruler, as well as respect the supremacy of the Constitution, the supreme law of this nation.”
He said some netizens have been using social media to post remarks deemed disrespectful of the institution of monarchy. In reality, he added, the king, who heads the institution of monarchy, is like an umbrella to the people, especially in times of a crisis.
Dr Baharudin also said that educational institutions should use the Rukun Negara as a tool and doctrine to inculcate in Malaysians the spirit of patriotism.
“If every Malaysian citizen has a deep appreciation of the Rukun Negara, they will surely be aware of their responsibility to the country.
“Armed with patriotism, Malaysians can become more productive, resilient, competitive, innovative and creative... they can be the human capital that can help the nation to develop further,” he added. -Bernama