Rather than refer to the constitution everytime we squabble, maybe it is better to trust ourselves to find a solution

I don’t know if this is seditious, but I have never thought of either our constitution or the Rukun Negara as being that great a document.

Nehru Sathiamoorthy

Recently, in response to PAS’s Takiyuddin  accusing Lim Kit Siang and DAP of spreading poisonous propaganda, Lim Kit Siang retorted by asking Takiyuddin whether Takiyuddin feels that our Rukun Negara or constitution is a divisive and inflammatory document.

This got me thinking.

I don’t know if this is seditious, but I have never thought of either our constitution or the Rukun Negara as being that great a document.

The founding document that in my opinion is well put together and elegant is the American constitution, which in turn is inspired by the American Declaration of Independence.

If you ask someone what America is about, the answer you will get is that it is a nation that is founded on the idea that all humans have an inalienable right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, and governments are created to protect this right.

This idea is expressed in the American Declaration of Independence and it is codified in their constitution. I think it is a near perfect, noble and elegant idea that is well imagined, well expressed and well codified by a line of enlightened men and women in America over generations, in simple language, easily understood concepts and universally agreed upon terms.

On the other hand, if you ask anyone what the Malaysian constitution is all about, even the constitutional experts will probably hem and haw to come up with an answer.

You see, our constitution was a hastily put together document that was drafted by people who had no idea about the realities of our nation. They borrowed heavily from the ideas of other founding documents from around the world, as if the realities of our country is interchangeable with the realities of those countries, and they did it on behalf of a dying colonial power, who have long exploited and oppressed us, chiefly to ensure that it can silence its troubled conscience before it kicked the bucket.

If you ask me what our constitution is chiefly all about, I would go so far as to say that it  is a piece of document that was mainly created to indemnify the dying British Empire for all the sins it had perpetrated against us during its hundreds of years of colonial rule. By giving us the constitution, the British Empire can finally die in peace, while being somewhat rest assured that the succeeding generation of Malaysia will not hold the successors of the British Empire to account, for the loot, pillage and oppression that they systematically perpetrated against our nation.

None of the people in the Reid commission, who drafted our constitution, were even Malaysians. Of the 5 people who sat in the Reid commission, two were British, one was Indian, one was Pakistani and one was Australian.

Much of the ideas enshrined in our constitution is actually alien to Malaysians at the time, and it is perhaps still alien to many of us till today. The Westminster type of government that our constitution endowed us, for example, is one that was completely unfamiliar to Malaysians at the time. The generation that lived during Merdeka literally had no idea what voting or elections were supposed to do. When they voted for their representatives to represent them in parliament, they were doing it without any idea as to why they were doing it and what their actions implied. That our constitution imposed upon us practises that we had no experience or knowledge about, is part of the reason why our parliament is such a mess, that even the incoming Agong is resorting to refer to our MPs as monkeys, more than 6 decades after we have gained independence.

As for the Rukun Negara, it is actually just a patchwork that was created in 1971, in the aftermath of the 1969 race riot, to fix our defective constitution.

When Malaysians rudely woke up to the fact the idea enshrined in our constitution is essentially unworkable in the face of the reality we lived in, because there is actually no such thing as a people called “Malaysians” for whom our nation was created – we were all just a bunch of people who happened to be at the same place at the same time to make the British Empire rich –  the government of Malaysia came out with the Rukun Negara, in order to create the Malaysian race, by getting us all to at least agree to 5 basic ideas, as outlined by the Rukun Negara.

Why 5? Well, as it turns out, when our then government was looking for something that can patch up our defective constitution, the first thing they found was the Indonesians’ Pancasila, which was based upon 5 ideas to unify an Indonesian people. In their usual fashion, they then borrowed the Indonesian idea and modified it for our own use, perhaps with the reasoning that if the Pancasila managed to create an “Indonesian race” for the Indonesian, then the “Rukun Negara” could perhaps succeed in creating a “Malaysian race” for Malaysians as well.

The way we used to apply these 5 ideas to create a Malaysian race is actually quite comical. After the we had created the Rukun Negara, we decided that the only thing we needed to do to create a Malaysian race through the Rukun Negara, is by printing the Rukun Negara on the back page of exercise books and getting students all over the country to repeat the Rukun Negara once every week during their school assembly.

Naturally, this idea amounted to nothing. To just get a bunch of kids to regurgitate some words during their school assembly, and then expect a new Malaysian race to form from the process is as ridiculous as throwing a bunch of stuff in the wok and expect a Michelin star meal to emerge.

Whenever I hear boomers like Lim Kit Siang and Takiyuddin go back to the constitution or the Rukun Negara in order to defend or forward their desires, I feel like I am hearing a couple of half-siblings argue with each other about what their abusive stepfather meant in his will before he died.

Their abusive step father wasn’t even thinking about them when he drafted the will. He just drafted his will so that he can silence his troubled conscience and die in peace.

I personally feel that the right way to treat things like the constitution and the Rukun Negara is by realising that good things can come out of bad things. A life-giving tree grows from a heap of manure. A beautiful baby can come out from a lustful experience. A great city is often built by violent and barbaric people. The people who wish to exploit you might have taught you how to read and write, so that they can better exploit you , but though you only learned to read and write because of their ill intentions, it doesn’t mean that your ability to read and write is not a gift.

This nation of ours is not a gift that is bequeathed to us by good and well-meaning people. It was actually something that a self-absorbed and out of control colonial power threw at us after it longer had the strength to exploit us anymore. But just because they threw this nation at us like it is garbage, it doesn’t mean it is garbage to us. To us, this is the slime that we can use as mortar, to build a better tomorrow for ourselves.

If we have trouble constructing this better world, we should use our own ingenuity to find a solution for it, instead of wondering what the British Empire intended our nation to be, when they threw it at us.