What is the real significance of the statement issued by the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal on behalf of the Conference of Rulers on Oct 10, 2017?
One, it reaffirms the fundamental importance of unity and harmony in multireligious Malaysia and demonstrates why respect for one another and for the dignity of all human beings is imperative. At the same time, the rulers’ statement unequivocally rejects extremism and divisiveness in a society like ours.
Two, by reasserting their authority as the head of Islam in their respective states, the sultans have made it explicitly clear that they do not want the religion to be associated with exclusiveness and bigotry. They want Islam to be presented and practised as it has always been - a religion of tolerance, moderation, and inclusiveness.
Three, to bring these and other such values to the fore, Malaysians, the rulers emphasise, should adhere to the principles of the Federal Constitution and the spirit of the rukunegara. The rukunegara is described as the nation’s guiding compass.
Four, through their offer of guidance, the rulers have carved out a role for themselves in governance. This is not only in accordance with their position as constitutional monarchs but is also a reflection of the historical continuity they embody in protecting and perpetuating the identity of the land.
This is not the first time that the Conference of Rulers has expressed its concerns about the dimensions of governance which are crucial for the people’s well-being. On Oct 7, 2015, it articulated its views on an aspect of the nation's financial management that impacts upon its integrity.
When the Conference of Rulers as an institution takes a stand on financial integrity or on national unity or on the role of Islam in multi-religious Malaysia, the people should come out in full support.
By so doing, civil society groups would be strengthening values and principles that are vital for the viability and sustainability of a nation that is still evolving.
Some have spoken up; many others should express themselves.