Scholars and observers of the Malaysian political scene are noting an increasing sense of polarization and division along ethnic, religious and regional lines, which according to more pessimistic observers, threatens the very fabric of its society and undermines the ability of Malaysia to meet its developmental goals. Malaysia appears to be witnessing an increase in racial and religious intolerance, and the reasons and causes of this are now the subject of a growing scholarly and media industry, clearly alarmed about the state of both ethnic and religious relations.
What, however, can be done about it? What fuels it? Can there be institutional responses to it, and if so, what?
Some active participants in Malaysian public discourse have suggested that part of the solution lies in making more explicit the Rukunegara, which are Malaysia’s national principles, within the preamble of the Constitution. The aim here is that by making the Rukunegara the preamble, it will provide a guide and establish the “overriding philosophy” of the Malaysian nation, and thus guidance and leadership for Malaysians to understand their national identity (Faruqi, 2017). The desire is to find a way to embed principles of national unity as a guiding philosophy or canopy for the Constitution. Others have pointed to the issue of education and, specifically, to the role and place of schools in Malaysian society.
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