When Muhyiddin Yassin resigned as prime minister on August 16, the nation began to wonder who would be next to accede to the role. The names of two candidates were launched: Anwar Ibrahim and Ismail Sabri.
Today, MP Ismail Sabri Yaakob has been appointed as 9th Prime Minister (PM) of Malaysia. Citing a statement, Istana Negara said Ismail Sabri will be sworn in tomorrow (August 21) at 2:30 p.m.
Recently, Malaysians know him as the defense minister who came into the spotlight since the MCO was first announced in March. We saw how he informed the public about the latest SOPs on movement restrictions taking place in the country under the cabinet of former Prime Minister Muhyiddin.
Now that he is ready to rule the country in the foreseeable future (at least two years until the next GE), we examined his professional life (and a bit of his personal life) to get a better idea of who Ismail Sabri is.
1. He is the Deputy Prime Minister under the age of 40
It was announced that Sabri had entered the office of Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) in Putrajaya, July 9, 2021. He was promoted to high minister to help the then prime minister manage the country and meet the needs of the people in economic and health crises.
If the planned oath is taken, Sabri will rise again as the nation’s noon noon at 2.30pm on August 21, 2021, bringing the length of his reign as DPM to a total of 40 days.
It will be the DPM with more services so far, following the 1-year reign of Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, 279 days as Mahathir Mohamad’s right-hand man after Pakatan Harapan won the GE14 in 2018.
2. He came from law training
When he was elected Minister of Defense, many Malaysians doubted his competence because he had no previous experience in the role.
Sabri himself confessed in one interview with NST, “I have no experience as Minister of Defense. I had never been trusted [with] this portfolio. However, I can always refer to and study the ministerial records and decisions made to understand all matters related to the ministry. “
Instead, his training is conducted in the field of law, where he pursued a law degree at the University of Malaysia in 1980 and wrote a thesis “Treatment of Political Detainees in Malaysia”.
He began his career as a lawyer in 1985 before being appointed a member of the committee of Temerloh’s UMNO division in 1987. This was the beginning of his political career.
Since then, Sabri has held several different ministerial positions, included in agriculture, internal trade, rural development, defense and now prime minister.
3. His wife chooses his cake-com shirts especially
Sabri was joking about the city to wear colorful batik t-shirts during his daily press conferences. Viewers even compared their T-shirts to the delights of Ramadan.
Apparently, his wife is the one who chooses what she should wear based on her combination with the other things she wears.
He also told NST that he was really happy to receive these reactions from viewers, because he felt it was a positive sign that people were tuning in to the daily press conferences to get updates on the latest MCO and CMCO news.
4. Have family members who are popular in the creative arts scene
Sabri’s son Gadaffi Ismail Sabri (or more popularly known as Dafi) is a singer and participated in season 5 of the reality show, Akademi Fantasia.
Meanwhile, her daughter Nina Sabrina is the wife of fashion designer Jovian Mandagie, who occasionally gives fashion advice to Sabri on what to wear for press conferences.
5. He is the prime minister who is not president of UMO
The appointment of Sabri as prime minister makes him the first prime minister of the UMNO who is not the party president; it’s fair one of the 3 vice presidents. The support of 114 lawmakers was enough for a simple majority to convince Yang di-Pertuan Agong of his candidacy for prime minister.
Following this announcement, UMNO, Malaysia’s most governing political party, will regain the presidency after losing in the 2018 elections.
6. He has no known cases of corruption
Malaysia is not unknown for its politicians to be arrested for corruption. But so far, Sabri has no known cases of corruption, although he has amassed a list of controversies over the years as a minister.
Some of them sensitive to race include their presumed 2015 Facebook comments urge Malaysians to boycott Chinese companies to force them to lower prices in line with falling oil prices. This caused offense to some parties, including the DAP to file a police report against this statement.
That same year, Sabri caused more controversy when he proposed a “Low Yat 2”, a digital device shopping mall that would only host Malaysian traders to compete with the current Low Yat Plaza. Liow Tiong Lai, then president of the MCA, revoked that the creation of Low Yat 2 would they only harm racial relations, and described the idea of a bumiputera-only mall as an “antagonistic approach.”
Also a member of the UMNO, Saifuddin Abdullah criticized the proposal, stating that Sabri’s proposal would be detrimental to Malaysians and Malaysians in general.
These are just two of Sabri’s known controversies, but it leaves no doubt that Sabri is a polarizing figure because of his opinions and statements.
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Muhyiddin leaves Sabri with a great responsibility. All eyes will be on the new prime minister to see if he has everything he needs to change the tide of Malaysia’s fate in the midst of the pandemic.
His past controversies have already left some Malaysians with many doubts about his ability to propose and implement positive changes and growth for the country, and the ball is in his court to change his mind.
Featured Image Credit: Ismail Sabri Yaakob