The lifelong dream of Malaysia’s 6th Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Hj Abd Razak, is a united, peaceful and prosperous Malaysia, with abundant opportunities for all citizens.
As the son of Malaysia’s second prime minister, the late Tun Abd Razak, Najib was born into Malaysian politics. Najib grew up watching his father and knew the demands of mainstream politics, and he always knew that at some point in his life he wanted to serve his community and country. But the untimely passing of his father on January 14th, 1976, at the age of 54, suddenly thrust Najib into the spotlight. Five weeks after his father’s passing, Najib, at the age of 22, was elected to fill the Pekan vacancy, becoming the youngest Member of Parliament in Malaysia’s history. In 2004 he ascended to the second-highest office in the nation, Deputy Prime Minister, 47 years after his father’s appointment to the same post.
Najib was born on July 23rd 1953 in Kuala Lipis, Pahang. He was educated at St. John’s Institution in Kuala Lumpur and Malvern Boy’s College in Worcestershire, England before earning a degree in Industrial Economics from Nottingham University. Returning to Malaysia in 1974, he entered the corporate world, serving briefly in Bank Negara (central bank) and later with Petronas (the national petroleum corporation) as a public affairs manager. But the untimely death of Razak dramatically altered the course of his life.
Najib quickly adapted to public life as a Member of Parliament, and soon found that the art of politics came naturally to him. Within a short time, the young Najib showed that he was a credible and capable politician and a leader in his own right. In his first year as an MP he was appointed Deputy Minister of Energy, Telecommunications and Posts, and later served as Deputy Minister of Education and Deputy Minister of Finance. In 1982 the nation’s new prime minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad placed Najib to contest the Pahang state seat of Pekan. Following Najib’s election victory, the 29-year-old Najib became the Menteri Besar of Pahang. He played a key role in establishing Yayasan Pahang, a foundation dedicated to promoting education and sports among the youth of Pahang through scholarships and funding. Najib strengthened state enterprises to maximise earnings from Pahang’s abundant natural resources. In cooperation with Felda he paved the way for the establishment of new land settlement schemes, providing new income opportunities for those who were landless and in the lower income group.
In 1982 Najib became the deputy chief of Umno Youth. In 1988, after a struggle for control of the party, a newly reconstituted Umno was formed and Najib was appointed as Youth chief, a post he held until 1993.
In the 1986 general elections Najib was returned as MP for Pekan and subsequently appointed Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. He immediately focused on improving Malaysian sports and introduced the National Sports Policy in 1988. In 1991 Najib was appointed Minister of Defence and in 1995 Minister of Education. His challenge was to respond to Malaysia’s newly proclaimed aspiration to become a fully developed nation by the year 2020. During his five-year tenure Najib put into place the mechanisms that would enable a generation of Malaysians to meet the challenges of the future. He restructured the ministry, corporatised the public universities and encouraged collaboration with foreign universities and institutions. This provided more educational opportunities for Malaysians and positioned Malaysia as a regional learning hub. Najib also upgraded teaching certificates to the status of diplomas, so that teachers in that category would receive a higher monthly starting salary.
In 1999, following the political turmoil of the year before, Najib won re-election to his Pekan Parliamentary seat. He was then appointed as Minister of Defence for the second time and resumed his efforts to improve and modernise the armed forces. Najib became prime minister in 2009, taking over from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.