Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Hj Abd Razak

Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Hj Abd Razak [http://www.pmo.gov.my/tpm] became Malaysia’s 9th Deputy Prime Minister, 47 years after his father the late Tun Abd Razak was appointed to the same position in 1957. For many, Najib’s ascension to the second highest office in the land came as no surprise. Not just because he was one of the most senior members of the Cabinet and had garnered the highest votes in the race for UMNO Vice-President in the previous two consecutive party elections (1996 and 2000) [Keputusan Rasmi Pemilihan UMNO 1996, 2000 Published by Pejabat UMNO Malaysia, 1996, 2000] . Rather, many regard Najib’s rise as a matter of destiny. He was the son of the nation’s second Prime Minister, one of Malaysia’s most illustrious leaders. He was thrust into the limelight at a very young age upon the demise of Tun Razak, and he had proven himself as an able leader at both state and federal levels over the years. One might say that politics was very obviously and evidently in his blood. [Kerjaya Politik Najib Sejak Usia 22 Tahun, Utusan Malaysia, 9 Januari 2004]

Dato Sri Mohd Najib received his early education at St. John’s Institution and then later at Malvern Boy’s College in Worcestershire, England before completing his tertiary education and obtaining a degree in Industrial Economics from Nottingham University. On his return to Malaysia in 1970, he began his career in the corporate world, serving briefly in Bank Negara (National Bank) and later in 1974 as a manager of Public Affairs at the national petroleum company PETRONAS. It was only two years later that Dato’ Sri’ Mohd Najib’s political journey can be said to have suddenly begun, on the day the nation mourned the passing of his much loved father on January 14th, 1976. [http://hids.arkib.gov.my/doc/jilidv/january/14_01_1976_1982.htm]

Even as the country was grappling with the shock and grief over the untimely death of Tun Razak at the age of 54, the UMNO division of the late Tun’s home constituency in Pekan, Pahang was already talking of a suitable successor as the Member of Parliament for Pekan. At this time Dato' Sri Mohd Najib had already automatically became the new ‘Orang Kaya Indera Shahbandar’ of pahang, a hereditary royal title passed down from generations. It wasn’t long before the overwhelming sentiment following the Tun’s death drove UMNO Pekan to unanimously decide that Tun Razak’s eldest son Najib should contest in the next elections. It was thus that on February 21, 1976, Dato' Sri Mohd Najib was thrust into the national political spotlight when he won the Pekan parliamentary seat uncontested and became the youngest member of parliament in Malaysian history at the tender age of 22. [Najib Razak - 30 Tahun Dalam Politik by Chamil Wariya , Published by Media Global Matrix Sdn Bhd , 2nd Edition, 2006]

Polite, well-bred and somewhat shy in his early years, the new young politician had to quickly adapt to the public life that came with the job of being Member of Parliament. It was a big change in lifestyle personally, even though he grew up watching his father and knew the demands of mainstream politics. Dato' Sri Mohd Najib has gone on record in a number of interviews describing how he felt, at that time, that he had been suddenly “thrown into the deep end of the pool” and had to quickly learn to “sink or swim”. But the fierce determination and drive to perform surfaced quickly as he always knew that at some point in his life he wanted to serve his community and country. He soon found that the art of politics was second nature to him, although the late Tun Razak always indicated that he had wanted his eldest son to become an accountant. Within a short period of time the young Najib found his political feet and began to show that he was a credible and capable politician and leader in his own right. He was appointed Deputy Minister of Energy Telecommunications and Posts in 1976, and later also served as Deputy Minister of Education and Deputy Minister of Finance.

Arguably, Dato' Sri Mohd Najib’s first real test came in 1982 when the nation’s then new Prime Minister Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad sent him to contest the State Assembly seat of Pekan, to enable him to become the Menteri Besar of Pahang. Following his election victory, Dato' Sri Mohd Najib was made the Menteri Besar of the biggest state in Peninsular Malaysia, at the young age of 29. The move by the Prime Minister to place Najib as Pahang’s Chief Executive was seen as an attempt to stabilize Pahang politics which was on the verge of a constitutional crisis following serious differences between the previous MB and the Sultan of Pahang. Najib, being a rising political star from Pahang, and also one of the “Pembesar Empat” (The Four Noblemen) of the Pahang Royal Court (by virtue of his title as Orang Kaya Indera Shahbandar), was well received by the palace, and almost instantaneously the crisis between the Palace and the state government abated.

In the four years he led the state of Pahang, Dato' Sri Mohd Najib ensured the unity of Pahang UMNO, whilst focusing on developing the expansive state. Among other things, he embarked on measures to strengthen education in the state, playing an instrumental role in establishing Yayasan Pahang in 1982, a foundation dedicated to promote the development of education and sports among the youth of Pahang by way of scholarships and funding. He strengthened state enterprises to maximize earnings from Pahang’s abundant natural resources and in cooperation with FELDA, he paved the way for the establishment of new land settlement schemes thus providing new income opportunities for those who were landless and in the lower income group.

Meanwhile, within the UMNO heirarchy Dato' Sri Mohd Najib became the deputy chief of UMNO Youth in 1982, winning the post uncontested, after having been a member of the Youth wing’s Executive Committee for a number of years. In 1987, Dato' Sri Mohd Najib moved up to take the top job in UMNO Youth when the position was vacated by his predecessor. In the same year a bitter battle for control of the party emerged in UMNO that ultimately led to the party being declared illegal. In 1988, a newly reconstituted UMNO came into being and Dato' Sri Mohd Najib was appointed as Youth Chief, a post he held until 1993.

On the administrative front, Dato' Sri Mohd Najib’s stint as the Menteri Besar of Pahang ended in 1986 when he was appointed as Minister of Culture, Youth an Sports after once again being returned as the Member of Parliament for Pekan in the general elections held that same year . The appointment was considered by many to be ideal, as Najib was himself a young person and was therefore believed to be able to relate to youths and their aspirations and needs. It also fit in very well with his position as a Youth leader in UMNO. Dato' Sri Mohd Najib immediately embarked on improving Malaysian sports, among other things introducing the National Sports Policy in 1988, which outlines the development of sports in the country and the introduction of monetary incentives for athletes who excelled at international tournaments. Significantly, it was during this time that Malaysia achieved it’s best ever performance at the South East Asia (SEA) Games held in Kuala Lumpur in 1989. Dato' Sri Mohd Najib also placed greater emphasis on scientific methods in training and preparing athletes for tournaments.

In 1991, Dato' Sri Mohd Najib was appointed Minister of Defence, which was again seen as history repeating itself, for the late Tun Razak too had once served in the same capacity. Dato' Sri Mohd Najib wasted no time in revitalizing a Ministry that was seen by many at the time as somewhat lethargic and listless. He embarked on a mission to improve the livelihood and welfare of armed forces personnel and pushed for their development in terms of skills and qualifications. He also introduced changes in defense policy and in policies relating to regional and global security, preparing Malaysia’s armed forces for a bigger role in the international arena. Dato' Sri Mohd Najib is also credited with modernizing the Malaysian Armed Forces through strategic capability enhancement procurements and exercises.

References


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