IN the past few days, Malaysians have seen the future of the country, and it’s pretty dim.

If the Mahathir-Anwar tag team gives the impression that the country is stuck in a time warp, and in the past, how much more depressing is the tandem of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Ismail Sabri.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim have many faults but they are not intellectually deficient.

Maybe it’s the years in the political wilderness, maybe it’s from being cast out or being castigated by their one-time followers but these two men, past their prime but wise from their years in politics, have more in their cranium than their foes over in Umno.
In finally coming together after a break just shy of 20 years, these partners-turned-nemesis-turned-allies are putting aside enmity and rivalry for something they see more urgent – getting Malaysia on track from the politics of division and dumbing down.

For example, how much more patronising and condescending to simply describe and ridicule Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) leadership line-up of three individuals at the helm as a formula for failure?

Deputy Prime Minister and also Umno vice-president Zahid Hamidi did just that when he said citizens should analyse and compare the pact’s formula with Barisan Nasional’s (BN) power sharing policy which has worked well for the country so far.

“Logically, a ship which has three captains will be in trouble because one captain would want to sail to the right, while the other to the left, the ship is doomed to sink.

“We are not questioning their decision, that’s their problem, but we want the people to analyse this. If they have different route maps and which way are they going?” Zahid said yesterday.

Of course, this is all politics. Would three captains of several ships be any different from BN’s power-sharing policy between the races? If there is actually a power-sharing formula at all?

Malaysia must go beyond these so-called power-sharing pacts based on race. It must be based on something a lot more substantial than just race that has been BN’s mantra all these years.

BN’s formula worked in the past, perhaps, but any leader’s qualification just on race will only lead to more statements such as those parroted by Zahid and his Umno colleague Ismail Sabri.

Ismail, a Cabinet minister and Umno supreme council member, weighed in on the PH line-up by raising the spectre that a split in the Malay vote could lead to the DAP winning more seats and a Chinese taking over as prime minister despite a lack of Chinese in the pact’s top leadership.

“In the end, we Malays will be split into three if this happens, if they (opposition) form the government, DAP will have the most seats, and constitutionally, they are entitled to decide who will be prime minister,” he said last night.

“If Lim Guan Eng wants to become prime minister, then he will be. If they don’t dare to put Guan Eng (as prime minister), they can put up a Malay, but it will be a Malay like the Selangor menteri besar, who cannot make decisions because everything is controlled by Teresa Kok, Hannah Yeoh and whomever.”

The same old rhetoric of race politics. Is this what is called power-sharing, BN? Everyone is equal but only one community is more equal and entitled to the top post?

And you want to lecture people on the PH line-up? How dim can anyone be to continually harp on race as the main qualification for leadership? How stupid is this debate from the time Malaya and Malaysia was formed?

How can any multi-racial country progress if it is still mired in racial politics? This is a country of Malaysians, not just Malay, Chinese, Indians and natives and others.

This kind of talk speaks volumes of a deficiency in intelligence, leadership, vision, policies and empathy to build a country of Malaysians, one beyond the sum total of its racial makeup.

Malaysia needs smart leaders, not those who are blinkered to just stick to racial politics as their mantra. In the long run, it might not be the Mahathir-Anwar team, but it surely isn’t any team in BN right now either.