Najib Razak was born into politics. Both his father and uncle were Prime Minister. When his father died he became the youngest MP in Malaysia’s history in 1976, and has since held many major ministerial portfolios. When he became Prime Minister in April 2009, critics called him the ultimate insider. But he has taken many by surprise, implementing the most far-reaching political and economic reforms since Malaysia’s independence.
The Prime Minister has, for example: repealed the colonial-era Internal Security Act, which permitted indefinite detention without trial; ended Malaysia’s 60-year State of Emergency; introduced measures to increase media freedom, such as scrapping restrictions on newspaper publishing licenses; reformed the Universities and University Colleges Act to allow undergraduates to participate in political activities; created the Peaceful Assembly Act, for the first time enshrining in law the right to peaceful protest; repealed the Banishment Act; repealed the Restricted Residences Act; and implemented various electoral reforms.
His Government Transformation Programme has fundamentally changed the provision of government services – improving education, widening access to healthcare, developing rural infrastructure, expanding public transport, reducing poverty, cutting crime and corruption and bringing down the cost of living. Alongside this, his Economic Transformation Programme has significantly liberalised the economy – creating more than 300,000 jobs, raising living standards, encouraging foreign investment and turning Malaysia into one of Asia’s most dynamic and successful economies.
The Prime Minister has also introduced the ‘1Malaysia’ concept, stressing the importance of national unity regardless of race or religious belief. 1Malaysia has also delivered improvements on the ground. For example, more than 1.5 million people have passed through new 1Malaysia health clinics, where anyone can receive treatment for any condition for about 30 cents.
MOVEMENT OF THE MODERATES
In terms of foreign policy, the Prime Minister has called for a new global Movement of the Moderates to combat extremism, attracting support from President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron, among others. In 2011, Najib Razak became the first Muslim head of government to unequivocally condemn suicide bombing and label it as un-Islamic. He has also contributed to the effort in Afghanistan by sending in female Muslim doctors.
LATEST GENERAL ELECTION
On 5th May 2013 Najib Razak was returned to office after winning Malaysia’s 13th general election. His Barisan Nasional coalition won 133 seats against the opposition’s 89. The Prime Minister’s party UMNO, the largest in the coalition, alone won 88 seats, nine more than at the last election. Following the result, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of national unity and working for the betterment of all Malaysians.