Najib Razak

Najib Razak or Najib Tun Razaknäjēb´ to͞on rä´zäk [key], 1958–, Malaysian politician. A Malay, he is a member of a prominent political family, the son of Malaysia's second prime minister, Abdul Razak, and the nephew of its third, Hussein Onn. Trained as an economist and a member of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), Najib was elected to parliament at 22 and later served in several deputy ministerial posts. He tended to favor authoritarian policies and like his father advocated preferential treatment for Malays. Defense minister from 2004 to 2008 and finance minister from 2008, he also served as deputy prime minister under Abdullah Ahmad Badawi from 2004. Electoral losses in 2008 forced Abdullah to resign his party leadership post in Mar., 2009; Najib succeeded him as party leader and, in Apr., 2009, as prime minister. In the 2013 elections, the UMNO-led National Front failed to win the popular vote for the first time, though it retained a majority in parliament. Intially a cautious reformer, but he reemphasized policies that favored Malays and suppressed dissent after 2013. His reputation was tarnished by a scandal involving hundreds of millions of dollars that were deposited into his accounts, but he was cleared by Malaysia's attorney general, who said that nearly $700 million was a legal Saudi donation (most of which was later returned) and that there was no evidence that Najib was aware of the millions the subsidiary of 1MDB, a government-controlled development fund, deposited into his accounts. Former prime minister Mahathir and other political leaders not aligned with Najib, however, called for him to resign, and in 2018 the National Front lost control of parliament to the Coalition of Hope, led by Mahathir. Subsequently, Najib was charged with a series of crimes relating to the 1MDB scandal.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Southeast Asia History: Biographies