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Ex-PM a product of culture of entitlement, dynastic politics

Photograph: The Star

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An exclusive sense of entitlement provided the opportunity to exploit the politics of race and religion with the hope of retaining power in perpetuity, writes Dominic Damian.

The ex-prime minister is an enigma and a dilemma unto himself.

He claims that his conscience is clear but the majority of Malaysians and many in the global community know that he is cleared of virtually any kind of conscience! There is little left of it, and that much is the truth. In an intriguing, intricate and complex way, this may be his only truth.
His stewardship of the nation appears to have been conducted in collusion with those close to him who are complicit. When the deck of cards fall, the head of this clique has little option but to take the fall and in the process stoutly place a defence to ensure all is not lost.
In a sense, his immediate family, friends and political allies have been of little or no help. Their actions have not at all been helpful in saving him; instead they appear counterproductive.

The party has been reduced to a group of jesters. The serious court proceedings have drawn whining and complaints. The theatrical drama of collecting funds for his bail, the extravagant promotional antics, the fiasco of the son’s frolicking in Taiwan, the wining and dining, and the frothing expletives from a party MP have exposed the entire rotten structure.

The sordid relationship mechanism to horde treasures reminds me of a termite colony: each character’s sole existence is dedicated to consume the structures, while the leader is fattened, indulged and pampered. There is a specific discipline: the worker or soldier will do everything possible for the leader.

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But in real life, they are doing nothing right to save a father, friend or political ally. It is a matter of time before Umno discards and disowns its former leader.
That said, he is doing nothing right either, swaggering around with this bloated ego and gloating about glories that do not register on the weighing scales of public perception or opinion. He managed to get a lot of folk burdened with problems. He curbed the reach of almost every institution that matters. He allowed inter-ethnic and inter-religious goodwill to take a battering as his deafening silence gave those disturbing the peace a free rein.

He ignored his conscience and his principles. The clumsiness in the corruption scandals under his watch is legendary – and he has not been forthcoming with the entire truth. Instead, he is still in delusional denial, perhaps believing himself untouchable. Consider that only a soulless, empty person will defend the indefensible and believe that cash is king.

Clueless, he is widely reviled, yet shows little sign of remorse or repentance. Mountains of evidence are met with insensible denial.

Meanwhile, the looting during his tenure has earned him international notoriety, and he is seen as a nightmare. When he was in power, the judiciary, the police, the attorney general, the previous parliamentary speaker and many more were emasculated. They were reduced to little more than blithering, babbling shadows of what they should have been.

He may now think he is going through martyrdom. But that would be a grave miscalculation – the way he miscalculated voters’ sentiments on 9 May. Few would want to touch him with a bargepole. If one reads comments on online articles, the depth of dislike for this person is revealed.

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Yet he is obstinate and obsessed about defending the indefensible. Even with just a fraction of the charges coming out, he could be heading for obliteration.

Only one factor and one factor alone may save him – the truth. But how is this possible with him?
Ultimately, we must reflect on what created this destructive juggernaut. Scientific theses or brilliant intellectual analyses are not required. The plain simple fact is that the intoxicating culture of nurturing those born into class and privilege and pandering to their needs for them to assume positions of power with few qualifications has been a dismal failure.
But this dynastic mentality of politics in our environment can be a double-edged sword – good or bad. Those who have suffered incarceration, turmoil and struggle will grow into real characters of value. Those born with a silver spoon habitually churn out crumbs without humility.
The exclusive sense of entitlement provided the opportunity to exploit the politics of race and religion with the hope of retaining power in perpetuity. Betrayals, marginalisation of justice, cruelty against the most vulnerable and other unthinkable travesties were unleashed with a vengeance.

The ex-prime minister and his cohorts were the creation of a culture of entitlement that conferred on them an aura of invincibility. This sense of entitlement was spawned by illustrious leaders of the past who had unquestionable intellectual ability. But the illumination of these past leaders may have been so bright that many could not see what the ensuing culture of entitlement would bring forth in the future.

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The wood of this nation is not entirely destroyed; it is burned on the surface. From ashes one can construct nothing, but from rubble and ruin, the possibilities live on. Political leadership now entails steering the nation away from the present turbulent times into a more tranquil future.

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