Najib Has Been In Politics Since He Was 22. How Long More Will His Career Last?

From being the youngest Member of Parliament in Malaysia to becoming the nation's most scandal-ridden prime minister.

Cover image via The Malaysian Insider

40 years ago on 21 February 1976, Najib Razak began his political career as a young, aspiring member of parliament. He was just 22 years old.

Najib inspecting equipment used to channel solar energy at a house in Kampung Merting near Jerantut in 1985

Image via NST

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak regarded his 40-year political journey since Feb 21, 1976 as torturous and replete with stories of grief and happiness and the spices of life.

Najib said, since he was picked to be a member of parliament at the age of 22 years and seven months, he was beset with a myriad of ordeals including almost losing his life when the helicopter he was in went into a spin due to a mechanical problem prompting a forced landing in Janda Baik in 1987.

Commemorating PM Najib's 40 years in politics, his fan club, Kelab Sahabat Najib Razak (N87), spoke a great deal about how he is both a "rare politician and a great statesman"

Moving on to the role of UMNO in the country, Chairman Suleiman Mohamad, reminded how keeping the party alive will ensure the survival of Malays and Islam in Malaysia

Image via Astro Awani

"We are retired soldiers but we are not tired soldiers, we are fighters of UMNO. As long as we are still alive, we will continue fighting because UMNO is the soul of the race.

If this soul dies, the Malays and Islam will disappear," expressed the chairman of Kelab Sahabat Najib Razak, Suleiman Mohamad.

The thanksgiving party that was held on 20 February, also saw Suleiman congratulating PM Najib's wife, Datin Rosmah Mansor for being an "excellent number one lady"

Image via The Hoya

“You have taken good care of him, you have made him great,” added Suleiman at the event held at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) today, 20 February.

Much has transpired over the span of four decades for Najib, starting off as the nation's youngest Member of Parliament to climbing up the ladder of success when he became Malaysia's sixth prime minister in 2009

Image via The Guardian

The economics graduate was thrust into politics at the age of 22 and became the country’s youngest Member of Parliament.

When his father, second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, passed away on January 14, 1976, the party banked on Najib to take up his father’s parliamentary seat of Pekan. Najib won uncontested in a by-election that was held five weeks after Razak’s death.

In his first year as an MP, he was made a full Cabinet member in charge of telecommunications, energy and postal services.

Then after the 1982 general election, at the age of 29, Najib was made Pahang menteri besar, again one of the youngest Malaysians to occupy such a post.

The rise of PM Najib's rich political career in year 1976:

Determined to realise his father's dream of revolutionising Malaysia's economy, PM Najib made ambitious reforms and additions, including the creation of the New Economic Model (NEM) that aims to reduce income equality and boost productivity

Image via Din Merican

After Najib took over from Abdullah, he pledged deeper and more ambitious reforms to the country’s laws and economy in order to turn Malaysia into a “high income nation” and “the best democracy in the world”.

The NEM was also supposed to make the private sector, instead of the government, the main driver of the economy. Since it was going to replace the New Economic Policy (NEP), the

NEM also wanted to reform the latter’s Bumiputera affirmative action initiatives. Najib also carried some degree of political reform such as repealing the Internal Security Act and making it easier to hold political assemblies and rallies. He also created a Cabinet portfolio on integrity in order to create better governance and fight corruption.

The unearthing of the 1MDB corruption scandal in 2015 that wrecked PM Najib's reputation as the nation's leader:

Najib's career took a downward spiral when the Wall Street Journal released reports of major corruption scandals involving the state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)

The issue was first brought up on 2 July when news channels, Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal published reports claiming that a sum of RM42 million from the government owned strategic development company, 1MDB, has been transferred into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal account in December 2014.

Sarawak Report also claims that a grand sum of RM2.6 billion has been transferred into Najib's personal account right before the 2013 General Elections.

Read all about the extensive report about the money flow in 1MDB that unleashed a series of revelation leading to the shaky state of PM Najib's career:

Also, watch these bite-sized videos created by the Wall Street Journal detailing the 1MDB scandal, made with all the information the investigators have managed to collect so far:

The revelation opened up a complicated web of scandals and corruption involving high-level politicians, including PM Najib Razak and the issue was even starting to affect our ringgit value

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz said that the ringgit – Asia's worst performing currency of the year so far – is expected to start recovering once issues surrounding troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) are resolved.

1MDB has been the subject of multiple investigations, amid allegations of financial mismanagement and graft.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who also chairs the fund's advisory board, has resisted calls for him to step down from government, but controversies continue to rage. 1MDB is seeking to reduce its $11 billion debt by selling power and property assets.

How does the 1MDB corruption scandal affect Malaysia’s economy in the long run? Read about Tan Sri Zeti Aziz's concerns on this matter:

Could this be the beginning of the end of PM Najib's 40-year-old political journey?

On 11 November 2015, former premier Dr Mahathir asked for PM Najib Razak's resignation for the nation's greater good

He said this when asked for his response to a statement made by civil society activist Ambiga Sreenevasan on Monday that activists would only support him if he also pushed for reforms in the country’s system of governance and that de-seating Najib alone was not enough.

"My first priority is to get Najib to step down. That's why I joined the demonstration (Bersih 4 rally). But as to the others, it is up to the majority to decide. Not for me to decide," he said.

After months of indirectly nudging PM Najib Razak to resign with his press conferences and statements about the responsibilities of a prime minister, Dr Mahathir and many other prominent politicians started openly questioning Najib on the RM2.6 billion donation and 1MDB issue:

However, PM Najib has remained calm and composed till now, as the accusations about his involvement in the corruption scandals continue to build up both locally and internationally

What's really surprising is that the prime minister has managed to maintain his composure from the day he started receiving all these financial scandal accusations, even going to the point of assuring American leaders that the nation is doing just fine by pledging to continue working to develop Malaysia:

In the midst of all the buzz surrounding the 1MDB case, Malaysia's Attorney-General (AG) Apandi Ali declared that PM Najib has been cleared of all corruption charges regarding the RM2.6 billion election 'donations' that he received

Will these financial scandals ever be resolved?

While Malaysians are left wondering about the truth behind the controversial 1MDB scandals, international bodies like Switzerland's Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) and the FBI continue to investigate the matter:

PM Najib Razak's political career has been an illustrious one, having been appointed as the deputy minister of the Energy, Telecommunications and Postal Services ministry at the tender age of 25 to heading the Culture, Youth and Sports Ministry just eight years later

Here's a look at the timeline of Malaysia's sixth prime minister's active political career, from 1976 till 20 February 2016 by The Malaysian Insider:

Najib’s career has spanned four long decades. How long more do you think his career will last? Leave a comment below.

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