Thursday, October 9, 2008


Najib walks in father’s footsteps


Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who became the country’s youngest Menteri Besar when he was 29, is set to walk in his father’s footsteps in helming the country. While his father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, became the second Prime Minister at the age of 48 on Sept 22, 1970, Najib, 55, is set to become the sixth Prime Minister. Najib’s path to the premiership is cleared when Prime Minister Datuk Sen Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced Wednesday that he would not defend his post as Umno President in the Party’s elections in March next year. The decision means that Abdullah will relinquish his position as Prime Minister and hand over the mantle to Najib in line with the power transition plan agreed upon by both leaders. Under the Barisan Nasional (BN) system, the Umno President is traditionally also the Prime Minister and BN chairman. Yesterday, Najib offered himself as a candidate for the Umno Presidency. Najib, the eldest of five siblings, was born on July 23, 1953, and entered politics at a young age. He was fielded by the BN in the Pekan Parliamentary by-election in February 1976 after the seat fell vacant following Tun Razak’s death. Najib won the seat unopposed and retained it in the 1978 general election, after which he was appointed Deputy Minister of Energy, Telecommunication and Post at the age of 25— the youngest Deputy Minister ever. In the 1982 general election, he won the Bandar Pekan State seat and was subsequently appointed the 11th Pahang Menteri Besar at 29. After a five-year stint as Menteri Besar, Najib was again fielded in the Pekan Parliamentary seat in the 1986 general election, and won, thus relaunching his political foray at the Federal level. He was appointed Culture, Youth and Sports Minister (1986-1990), Defence Minister (1990-1995), Education Minister (1995-1999), and re-appointed Defence Minister (1999-2008). Najib, who was then an Umno Vice-President, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister by Abdullah who took over the Prime Ministership from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who resigned in 2003. In the 2004 Umno general assembly, Najib won the post of Deputy President unopposed. On Sept 17, Abdullah and Najib swapped portfolios as part of the power transition plan agreed between them. Abdullah became the new Defence Minister while Najib took over the fmance portfolio. A graduate of Nottingham University in Industrial Economics, Najib began his career as a Petronas Public Relations Manager in 1974. Two years later he was appointed Malaysian Livestock Authority Chairman before joining politics. During his tenure as Defence Minister, he set up the Malaysian Armed Forces Department for Veteran Affairs in 2001 to look after the socio-economic, livelihood, medical needs and welfare of exservicemen and their children’s education. Najib was instrumental in introducting the National Service in 2003 which was aimed at instilling patriotism among youths and students. Emulating his father in developing the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), Najib, n his capacity as Chairman of the Gbinet Committee onFelda, has introduced various programmes to improve the settlers’ income and their socioeconomic standing. Besides enhancing the yields from the plantations, Felda is developing the downstream and commercial activities as well as providing better education and skills to the settlers’ children. Najib, who has three sons avid two daughters, has authored several books, including “For The Sake of Peace”, “Asia-Pacific’s Strategic Outlook - Shifting of Paradigms” and “Defending Malaysia: Facing the 21st Century.” In keeping with the new media development, Najib launched his website, “” on Sept 16 as a forum to exchange views with the people. - Bernama