Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib, was appointed the 6th Prime Minister of Malaysia on 3rd April 2009. He succeeded Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who had decided not to defend his position as President of UMNO in the party elections. Dato’ Sri Najib, the eldest son of Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, was born in Kuala Lipis, Pahang. He obtained his primary and secondary education at St. John’s Institution. Thereafter, he continued his upper secondary education at Malvern Boys’ College, Worcestershire, England. Upon completing upper secondary education, Dato’ Sri Najib continued his studies at the University of Nottingham and obtained his degree in industrial economics in 1974.
Upon his return to his homeland, he served as an executive with Petronas, the national petroleum company for two years. However, the demise of his beloved father in 1976 drew Dato’ Sri Najib into politics. He was picked as the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate to contest for the Pekan parliamentary seat which fell vacant upon the death of his father. That was the turning point in Dato’ Sri Najib’s life. From then onwards, he fully dedicated himself to politics and government. Dato’ Sri Najib was appointed the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports following his victory in the 1986 general elections when he contested anew for the Pekan parliamentary seat. Under his leadership, Malaysia attained its best performance in the South East Asian Games (SEA Games). He also introduced the National Sports Policy which charts the course of national sports development and rewards through incentives for national athletes who won Olympic medals.
In 1990, Dato’ Sri Najib was appointed the Minister of Defence by the then Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He transformed the Ministry of Defence by modernising the Malaysian Armed Forces through capacity enhancement, procurement and strategic training. The modernisation introduced by him saw Malaysia procuring new assets such as the Russian-made aircraft, i.e. MiG 29, Boeing F18 Super Hornet, the frigate F-2000, 155mm ammunition artillery and the upgrading of the country’s air defence system with the acquisition of a new radar system. He also took care of the welfare of armed forces personnel by increasing their allowances and enhancing housing facilities. In 1995, Dato’ Sri Najib was picked to head a more challenging ministry, the Ministry of Education. Under his leadership, the national education system underwent major changes including the introduction of the Education Act of 1996. The waves of changes introduced by him saw a major transformation of the national education system in particular within institutions of higher learning whereby they were allowed to offer a wider variety of courses, multiple choices and new approaches in the teaching and learning disciplines.
In the 1999 general elections, Dato’ Sri Najib had to contend with an election win with a reduced majority. However, it cannot be regarded as totally surprising given the political turbulence at the time of the elections. Following the general elections he was re-appointed as the Minister of Defence for the second time and continued with the modernisation of the armed forces following the nation’s resurgence from the economic crisis of 1997. Among the principal acquisitions was the purchase of the state-of-the-art Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30MKM, the submarine long anticipated by the Royal Malaysian Navy and tanks from Poland. Jernas, the national air defence system, was also procured for the army. Certain allowances for members of the armed forces including flight allowances for air force pilots were increased and higher salaries for new recruits offered.
He remained the Minister of Defence until September 2008 when he took over the post of Minister of Finance from Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. In March 2009, Dato’ Sri Najib was elected UMNO president without contest when Tun Abdullah decided against defending his post. Subsequently in April, Tun Abdullah announced his intention to step down as Prime Minister and was succeeded by Dato’ Sri Najib who was sworn in as the new Prime Minister. He has retained his post as the Minister of Finance concurrently.
On 27th September 2010, at the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Dato’ Sri Najib delivered a speech calling for members and leaders of the world’s major faiths to censure and reject their own extremists and jointly support a “movement of moderates”.
The real issue is not between Muslims and non-Muslims but between the moderates and extremist… Moderation is the ‘fitrah’, or essence, of humanity’s greatest heights, the solid bedrock on which all the world’s civilizations have been built… moderation stands of acceptance, freedom, tolerance, compassion, justice and peace.
The concept was further expounded by Dato’ Sri Najib at prestigious platforms including Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, East-West Center, the Asia-Europe Meeting, the ASEAN Summit and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The concept received considerable support from both government and non-governmental organisations.
At the inaugural International Conference on Global Movement of Moderates held in Kuala Lumpur on 17th-19th January 2012, Dato’ Sri Najib called for the establishment of the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation as a centre of first resort in the dissemination of information on the concept of moderation in combating the scourge of extremism in five broad areas including peaceful co-existence, democracy and rule of law, international finance, education and conflict resolution.
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