Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak took office after the government suffered record losses in 2008 general elections, pledging reforms to revive a ruling coalition that has ruled this Southeast Asian country for 53 years.
A British-trained economist, Najib who is also Malaysia’s Finance minister, will soon face a key political test in upcoming state-wide elections in Sarawak on Borneo island which are expected to be held by April.
A strong win in Sarawak could boost his confidence to call an early general election, although one is not due until 2013.
Here are five facts about Najib Razak:
– Najib is regarded as a political blue blood — he is the son of Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia’s second prime minister, and the nephew of the third.
– He is Malaysia’s most experienced serving politician with a three-decade career in government. He holds the record as the youngest candidate in any Malaysian election at the age of 22 in 1976 after the Pekan constituency in his home state of Pahang fell vacant upon his father’s death.
– Became Malaysia’s sixth prime minister on April 2009, succeeding Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who bowed out after the ruling coalition suffered record losses in the 2008 general election.
– Najib has delivered measures such as granting new bank licences, luring back foreign investment and cutting the fiscal deficit, which hit a 20-year high of 7 percent of gross domestic product in 2009.
– Wary of upsetting voters, Najib has slowed down on subsidy rollbacks and has postponed the implementation of a goods and services tax. He has also softened his stance on a promised reform of controversial preferential equity ownership rules for the majority ethnic Malays.