When Muhyiddin Yassin stepped down as prime minister on August 16, the nation began to wonder who would next come to the role. The names of 2 candidates are scattered: Anwar Ibrahim and Ismail Sabri.
Today, MP Ismail Sabri Yaakob was appointed to Ninth Prime Minister (PM) Malaysia. Citing a statement, Istana Negara said Ismail Sabri would be sworn in at 2.30pm tomorrow (August 21st).
Malaysians have known him recently as the Minister of Defense who has come into the spotlight since the MCO was first announced in March. We watched him inform the public about the latest SOPs regarding movement restrictions happening in the country under former Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s cabinet.
Now that he intended to rule the country for the foreseeable future (at least 2 years until the next GE), we looked at his professional (and part of his private) life to get a better idea of who Ismail Sabri is.
1. He is the Deputy Prime Minister with the shortest tenure of only 40 days
It was reported that Sabri had based in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) in Putrajaya on July 9, 2021. He was promoted from a senior ministry to assist the then Prime Minister in managing the country and meeting the needs of the people in economic and health crises.
If he takes the oath as planned, Sabri will be re-promoted on August 21, 2021 at 2.30pm at 21:30, bringing his duration as DPM to a total of 40 days.
He will be the shortest DPM to date, after one year of Wan Azizeh Wan Ismail’s rule, 279 days as Mahathir Mohammad’s right-hand man after Pakatan Harapan won the 2018 GE14.
2. He came from law
When he was elected our Minister of Defense, many Malaysians doubted his ability because he had no previous experience in that role.
Sabri himself admitted in an interview for NST“I have no experience as Minister of Defense. I was never entrusted [with] that portfolio. However, I can always refer to and study ministerial records and decisions made to understand any issues related to the ministry. ”
Instead, his training is in the field of law, where he graduated in law from the University of Malaya in 1980 and wrote a thesis entitled “Dealing with Political Detainees in Malaysia”.
He began his career as a lawyer in 1985, and in 1987 he was appointed a member of the Temerloh UMNO Department Board. That was the beginning of his political career.
Since then, Sabri has held several different ministerial positions, including in the fields of agriculture, internal trade, rural development, defense, and now the prime minister.
3. His wife chooses him stake-Like batik shirts
Sabri used to be a city joke because he wore colorful batik shirts during his daily press conferences. Viewers even compared his T-shirts to Ramadan delicacies.
Apparently, it is his wife who chooses what he should wear based on how well it would fit the other things he wears.
He also told NST that he was actually happy to get such reactions from viewers, as he saw it as a positive sign that people were getting involved in daily press conferences to update on the latest MCO and CMCO news.
4. It has family members who are popular on the art scene
Sabrina’s son, Gaddafi Ismail Sabri (or more popularly known as Dafi) is a singer and was a participant in the fifth season of the reality show, Akademi Fantasia.
Meanwhile, his daughter Nina Sabrina is the wife of fashion designer Jovian Mandagie, who occasionally gives Sabri fashion advice on what to wear to press conferences.
5. He is the first prime minister who is not the president of UMNO
Sabri’s appointment as prime minister makes him the first prime minister of UMNO who is not the party president – he is fair one of 3 vice presidents. The support of 114 deputies was enough for a simple majority to convince Yang di-Pertuan Agong of his candidacy for prime minister.
Following this announcement, the longest-ruling Malaysian political party, UMNO, will be reinstated as prime minister after losing the 2018 elections.
6. There are no known cases of corruption
Malaysia is not averse that its politicians will be arrested for corruption. But so far, Sabri has no known cases of corruption, although he has amassed a list of controversies as a minister for years.
Some of the racially sensitive ones include his alleged 2015 Comments on Facebook call on Malaysians to boycott Chinese companies to force them to reduce prices in line with falling oil prices. This has caused insult to several parties, including DAP submit a police report against that statement.
That same year, Sabri caused more controversy when he did suggested “Low Yat 2”, a digital gadget mall where only Malaysian retailers could compete with the existing Plaza Low Yat. Liow Tiong Lai, the then president of the MCA, recalled that setting up Low Yat 2 only harmed racial relations, and he described the idea of a shopping center only for bumiputers as an “antagonistic approach”.
Fellow member of UMNO Saifuddin Abdullah as well criticized the proposal, arguing that Sabri’s proposal would be detrimental to Malaysians and Malaysians in general.
These are just two well-known Sabri controversies, but it leaves no doubt as to the fact that Sabri is a polarizing figure because of his views and statements.
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Muhyiddin leaves Sabri with heavy responsibility. All eyes will be on the new prime minister to see if there is anything needed to reverse the fate of Malaysia in the midst of a pandemic.
His past controversies have already left some Malaysians in great doubt about his ability to propose and implement positive change and the growth of the country, and the ball is in his court to change his mind.
Featured image credit: Ismail Sabri Yaakob