Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is trending on social media for all the wrong reasons. Najib was convicted of corruption in several cases related to the alleged theft of billions of dollars from Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). He has become the first Malaysian head of state to be convicted of graft.
Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak was the sixth prime minister of Malaysia and was in office between 2009 and 2018. He is part of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which dominated the country's political landscape for sixty years, until 2018.
The High Court has convicted Najib on seven counts of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust. He has been sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment and also fined RM210 million. Here are five lesser-known facts about the member of Malaysia's royal court.
Royal Blood Poisoned by Greed?
Najib is the eldest son of Malaysia's second Prime Minister Abdul Razak. He is the nephew of the third prime minister Hussein Onn. Apart from this, Najib is also one of the four noblemen of the Pahang Darul Makmur or the royal court. He inherited the title Orang Kaya Indera Shahbandar.
Najib studied at Malvern College in Worcestershire, England, and graduated from the University of Nottingham in industrial economics in 1974. He married Kui Yie in 1976 and has three children with her. He divorced her and married Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in 1987. He has two children with her, including Nooryana Najwa, who is married to the nephew of former Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Najib's Style of Taking Control
The first thing Najib accomplished after becoming the PM in 2009 was to liberalize government agencies and invite increased foreign direct investment. By 2013 he had taken complete control of the country's agencies and booked anyone who criticized his measures on charges of sedition. The Opposition was silenced after leader Anwar Ibrahim was convicted of sodomy. State-run 1MDB acted as an investment firm filling the pockets of Najib, his family and associates.
Najib Trapped by Absolute Power
When there was a public outcry against the selling out of Malaysia in terms of FDI and checking the freedom of speech and expression, Najib became more stringent. He replaced the deputy prime minister, suspended two newspapers and passed the National Security Council Bill to gain unprecedented powers.
Malaysia's cost of living was soaring and oil prices were fluctuating, leading to depreciation of the country's currency. As Najib's grip over authority became tighter, the public anger also reached its limits. The public put an end to Najib's absolute authority in the 2018 elections and defeated the Barisan Nasional party for the first time in the history of Malaysian politics.
Najib's Obama-Trump Connection
Najib undertook a number of foreign trips, and his love for golf was well known. It is reported that he even played golf with former American president Barrack Obama as well as current US President Donald Trump. The latter is said to have named Najib as his favorite prime minister.
Youngest to Enter Parliament
Najib won his first election and entered the parliament at the age of 23 after the death of his father. He served in the capacity of minister and president of various organizations as the youngest leader to achieve the milestone.
But after his ouster following 2018 elections, Najib, along with his wife Rosmah, was all set to take off in a private jet to Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport in Jakarta. But the travel ban on Najib was issued in time and he was barred from exiting the country.
Currently, accusations against Najib include bolstering his bank account with RM42 million (US$10.6 million) diverted from SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB, the state-owned company. In addition to this, the police have seized 1,400 necklaces, 567 handbags, 423 watches, 2,200 rings, 1,600 brooches, and 14 tiaras worth $273 million from Najib's house.