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The three Rs and the culture of entitlement

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Dominic Damian looks back and reflects on how the rhetoric about race, religion and royalty was used as a cover for blatant plunder.

Not so long ago, the attorney general talked about reforming our laws.

The implications go much deeper. Our existing laws, structures, institutions and constitution have glaring vulnerabilities – which can be exploited by deceptive individuals or parties.

Those who gain access to unbridled powers will be suspect. The legitimacy of the best intended laws can fail against the squalid morality of the powerful. Tweaking or upgrading the laws is not enough. Only holistic, sweeping reforms can safeguard us from potential abuse.

There are some deep underlying questions that we must reflect on first. What broke this nation? What robbed it of its soul? What tore it apart and drove us to our knees? What crushed the spirit of unity? What motivated a government with a cross-section of qualified individuals to rob?

Despite wealth and academic leanings, these individuals became rogue entities, stealing and plundering from its citizens. What made them use the security services negatively? How did we end up having certain people murdered and abducted?

What we witness was systemic subversion of existing laws. These laws were manipulated to embolden and empower certain individuals. Some of them were already powerful, ruthless and remorseless within their own circles.

Yet, they were empty vessels of conscience without an ounce of empathy for anyone else. What mattered most to them were themselves and their families. Their part in governance was far removed from a shared sense of humanity. Theirs was a shameless philosophy, premised on a selfish culture of entitlement.

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Their objectives were sinister. Under the cover of race, religion and royalty, they concealed their main agenda of massive pillage, plunder and looting.

Power for personal gain

They had an insatiable and voracious appetite for power. This happens anywhere in the world. Nothing exceptional in this.

But personal visions of control and power to be used for personal gain changed the equation. The evolution was dramatic and evident.

They could no longer rely on standard conventions; they had to manufacture controversy and consternation – something they knew that could strike a chord, which they could then propagate – specific potent causes.

To engineer divisions, they relied on deception and manipulation. Reconstructing social philosophy and reinterpreting religion were obvious choices. The undermining of unity in favour of racial separation was introduced in stages.

It did not happen overnight. A toxic cocktail of infamous viruses, the “three Rs” were subtly injected. The main arteries of the nation were progressively compromised at an inconspicuous pace. This seeped into every corner of the nation, including in governance.

Concerned citizens and groups hollered and protested. But the perceived future dangers they highlighted were ignored. Instead their ideals were pulverised, their liberties restricted.

Racial ideology was cloned and grafted into our system. Time-bound ethnic affirmative action policies were extended to perpetuity, now virtually irreversible and irrevocable. Questionable justifications were used. Human rights groups in the country and around the world missed it.

Protests groups were set up to intimidate others. They had one dubious purpose: to protect and defend an honour that was never lost.

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They pointed to a never-ending invisible threat. The impression created was that the three Rs were under threat – and that was enough. All others concerns were just inconsequential.

The three Rs did not camouflage the insidious greed. This greed was not lurking in the shadows. It was visible and tolerated. A pervasive entitlement culture spread across the political spectrum and gained acceptance.

Today, the scams and scandals of the past are evident. The irony should be considered: these alleged thefts transcended the racial and religious minefield. Cold hard cash cut through the artificial divisions created.

As painful as it is to now realise it, there was a purpose and reason for all these negatives. They exposed the falsity of the proponents of these distorted values, rendering their causes morally reprehensible and repugnant.

Nationalism hijacked by racial rhetoric

The use of the three Rs had negative consequences. Nationalism, which is a positive binding force in any nation, was hijacked and turned into the exclusive domain of one ethnic group.

National TV stations marginalised and excluded other ethnicities, except during festive occasions. It was rare to see a mixed cast of artistes and actors or Malaysian stories with an all-inclusive cast. A nation starved of a national identity responded enthusiasitclly to occasional forays in movies like Sepet.

It was not just the arts, especially those dependent on government funding, that were affected. A cross-section of institutions and services were also constricted, constrained due to the lack of integration.

A lack of healthy competition resulted in massive deficits. The depreciation and degradation in the quality of services was obvious.

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But the delusional culture of entitlement had to be defended at all costs. History was unashamedly rewritten. Those not considered within the dominant framework were termed “pendatangs”.

This entitlement culture is unfortunately still being advocated, perpetuated by some small groups, individuals and political parties.

There are no two ways about it: the need for legal reforms carries evident truths. A comprehensive overhaul to strengthen our laws is essential.

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