See More on Facebook


Najib Razak: Malaysia’s prodigal son

According to analysts and despite a tumultuous few years, Najib Razak looks likely to win in the upcoming general election.

Written by

Updated: February 23, 2018

With general elections coming later this year in Malaysia, politicians are campaigning aggressively to see whether the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan can topple the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has dominated the political scene for decades.

Its current leader, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, has been in power since 2009. One could argue it is in his blood – his father, Abdul Razak Hussein, was Malaysia’s second prime minister, and his uncle, Hussein Onn was the third.

Nottingham University educated Najib followed in their footsteps at an early age, taking his father’s place in parliament after his sudden death in 1976. At just 23 years old, he was the youngest member of parliament in the country’s history.

His sudden entrance into politics marked the start of a long and illustrious career. In 1978, he was appointed the Deputy Minister of Energy, Telecommunications and Post, and from there went on to hold numerous other position within the Government including Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Minister for Defence and Minister for Education.

In 2004, he was elevated to the position of Deputy Prime Minister under Abdullah Badawi.

In the 2008 general election, however, the BN coalition suffered at the polls, losing its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time since 1969. The coalition managed to maintain its grip on power, but Abdullah decided to step down the following year, making way for Najib to assume the role of prime minister.

Since then, he has introduced a number of initiatives and reforms to help guide Malaysia forward, including the 1Malaysia initiative, which emphasises national and ethnic unity, and the New Economic Model, which aims to transform Malaysia into a developed nation by 2020.

Najib’s career in politics has not been without its share of bumps in the road. He led the BN coalition to its worst-ever showing in the 2013 election, losing the popular vote to the opposition for the first time.

Then, in 2015, Najib faced perhaps the biggest blow to his political career when allegations surfaced that he had syphoned $700 million from troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) into his personal bank accounts.

News of the scandal triggered a storm of criticism among Malaysians and led to protests. Many urged him to resign, with his former boss Mahathir leading the charge.

Najib fought back fiercely, vehemently denying the allegations and hitting back with his own claim that Mahathir had launched a smear campaign against him.

He refused to resign and cracked down on reporting of the incident. His deputy, who was critical of his handling of the affair, and the attorney-general investigating the case were both removed from their positions, according to the Star newspaper.

Najib was eventually declared not guilty, the money in his account allegedly a personal donation from the Saudi royal family.

Despite the hard blow to his reputation, many observers still feel that BN are likely to win this year’s election.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

Nadia Chevroulet
About the Author: Nadia is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here


Abe wins 3rd term as president of ruling LDP

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was reelected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party for a third consecutive term on Thursday. “I will put all my strength and soul into fulfilling my duty,” Abe said after his victory. A total of 810 votes were cast in the LDP presidential poll, half by Diet lawmakers and half by rank-and-file party members. After securing the support of five LDP factions, led respectively by Hiroyuki Hosoda, Taro Aso, Fumio Kishida, Toshihiro Nikai and Nobuteru Ishihara, Abe won 329 of the 405 votes from LDP lawmakers, against 73 votes for Ishiba. Voting from rank-and-file party members closed on Wednesday. Abe won 224 votes of the 405 votes available from rank-and-file party members, while Ishiba won 181. At a press conference later on the same day, Abe said he intends to reshu

By The Japan News
September 21, 2018


A land with no smiles

The Thai middle class’ Faustian bargain with the military is hampering true democracy in the country. Almost ten years ago, I met a protester on the streets of Bangkok. It was a time of protest and political instability with the drama between the government and protesters spilling out onto the streets. To protect his identity against possible military reprisal, let us call him Nadech. Nadech will unlikely be recorded in history books, he was not a political leader, nor a despotic general or any other archetype of Thai history. He was a simple junk-store hawker, an occupation that involves going from house to house and sorting garbage to sell. His family had done well enough through grit and hard work to open a small convenience store in his home province. Nadech had taken to the streets in 2010 because he had believed the promises that exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had made and had seen, fi

By Cod Satrusayang
September 21, 2018


New airport construction adds to China’s influence in the Maldives

Maldives airport opened a new runway constructed by China this week, a sign of Beijing’s growing influence on the island nation. Maldives airport opened its newly developed Code F runway at the Velana International Airport on Tuesday after two years of construction by Chinese firms. According to Chinese state media, the new runway is a milestone project of the Belt and Road Initiative. The contract for the airport expansion, including the development of the fuel farm, a cargo terminal, and the new runway, was signed between China and the Maldives in 2014, Xinhua News Agency reported. Constructed by Beijing Urban Construction Group, a large international construction group based in China, the new runway is 3,400 meters long and 60 meters wide. It is the latest push by China to gain influence over the politically troubled nation. Earlier this year, Maldivian President Abdulla Y

By Cod Satrusayang
September 20, 2018


Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif released from jail

Nawaz Sharif and his family were released from Adiala jail on Wednesday after the Islamabad High Court suspended their respective prison sentences in the Avenfield corruption case earlier in the day. PML-N Pr

By Dawn
September 20, 2018


El Salvador ups pressure on Taiwan relations

Prosecutors in El Salvador to investigate the alleged graft of some $10 million in funds donated by Taiwan. El Salvador announced it would sever ties with Taiwan and switch its allegiance to Beijing on 21th August. The loss of the Central American country reduces the number of Taiwan’s formal diplomatic allies to just 17. Now the current president of El Salvador, Sanchez Ceren, is accused that he won the election by relying on partial fund which was donated by Taiwan in 2014. Prosecutor Douglas Melendez said in a TV interview that Taiwan gave $38 million to El Salvador for various projects, but the fund was used in a partisan campaign by Mauricio Funes in election won by current President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the presidential candidate of the FMLN party in 2014. The FMLN party calling the accusations “baseless” and accusing Melendez of “attacking our candidate and o

By Asia News Network
September 20, 2018


Former Malaysian Prime Minister arrested, to be charged

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been arrested in connection with the deposit of RM2.6bil of 1MDB funds into his personal account. In a statement, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) said the arrest was made at 4.13pm at its headquarters in Putrajaya on Wednesday (Sept 19). The MACC said that the former prime minister will be detained overnight and brought to court to face several charges under Section 23 (1) of the MACC Act at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court at 3pm on Thursday (Sept 20). The MACC will also cooperate with the police to record Najib’s statement before he is taken to court tomorrow. ” This is to help their investigations under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” it said. Meanwhile, Malaysiakini reports that Najib’ daughter, Nooryana Najwa, is worried t

By The Star
September 20, 2018