The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Malaysia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Malaysian Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,710 Politicians, 22 of which were born in Malaysia. This makes Malaysia the birth place of the 88th most number of Politicians behind Indonesia and Moldova.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Malaysian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Malaysian Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Malaysian Politicians.

Photo of Mahathir Mohamad

1. Mahathir Mohamad (1925 - )

With an HPI of 76.85, Mahathir Mohamad is the most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 79 different languages on wikipedia.

Mahathir bin Mohamad (Jawi: محضير بن محمد; IPA: [mahaðɪ(r) mohamad]; born Mahathir a/l Iskandar Kutty; 10 July 1925) is a Malaysian politician, statesman, author, and doctor who served as the fourth and seventh prime minister of Malaysia. He held office from July 1981 to October 2003 and later from May 2018 to March 2020 for a cumulative total of 24 years, making him the country's longest-serving prime minister. Before his promotion to the premiership, he served as Deputy Prime Minister and in other Cabinet positions. He has served as a member of parliament for Langkawi since May 2018, Kubang Pasu from August 1974 to March 2004, and Kota Setar Selatan from April 1964 to May 1969. His political career has spanned more than 75 years since he first joined a newly formed United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in 1946 opposing Malayan Union to forming his own political parties; the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (BERSATU) in September 2016 and the Homeland Fighters' Party (PEJUANG) in August 2020 till date. Born and raised in Alor Setar, Kedah, Mahathir excelled at school and became a physician. He became active in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) before entering the Parliament of Malaysia in 1964. He served one term before losing his seat, subsequently falling out with Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman and being expelled from UMNO. He wrote The Malay Dilemma during this period, which formed the basis of future ethnic Malay affirmative action policies in the country. When Abdul Rahman resigned, Mahathir re-entered UMNO and parliament, and was promoted to the Cabinet, where he served as Minister of Education from 1974 to 1978 and Minister of Trade and Industry from 1978 to 1981. He became Deputy Prime Minister in 1976. In 1981, he was sworn in as prime minister following the resignation of Hussein Onn. During Mahathir's first tenure as prime minister, Malaysia experienced a period of rapid modernization and economic growth, and his government initiated widespread industry privatisation and a series of bold infrastructure projects. Mahathir was a dominant political figure, winning five consecutive general elections and fending off a series of rivals for UMNO's leadership. However, his power accumulation came at the expense of judicial independence and the Malaysian royalty's traditional powers and privileges. He continued pro-bumiputera affirmative action policies, but in the 1990s introduced the Bangsa Malaysia policy that saw some political liberalisation. He used the controversial Internal Security Act to detain activists, non-mainstream religious figures, and political opponents in Operation Lalang (1987) and later his Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, whom he fired in 1998. Mahathir's record of curbing civil liberties and his antagonism towards Western interests and economic policy made his relationships with Western nations difficult. As prime minister, he was an advocate of third-world development and a prominent international activist. After leaving office in 2003, Mahathir became a strident critic of his hand-picked successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and later Najib Razak. In 2016, Mahathir quit UMNO in light of its support for Najib's actions despite the 1Malaysia Development Berhad corruption scandal. Later that year, the Malaysian United Indigenous Party was officially registered as a political party, with Mahathir as chairman. He was announced as the Pakatan Harapan coalition candidate for prime minister in the 2018 general election, with a plan to pardon Anwar Ibrahim and hand over the premiership to him after an unspecified interim period if the campaign succeeded. Following a decisive victory for Pakatan Harapan in the election, Mahathir was sworn in as prime minister. He was the first prime minister not to represent the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition (or its predecessor, the Alliance Party), and the first prime minister to serve non-consecutive terms, or as a member of two different parties. In 2020, Mahathir's refusal to begin the process of handing over the role of Prime Minister to Anwar contributed to a political crisis, leading to the ousting of the Pakatan Harapan government and prompting Mahathir to resign. At the time of his resignation, he was the world's oldest serving state leader at the age of 94.

Photo of Tunku Abdul Rahman

2. Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903 - 1990)

With an HPI of 71.63, Tunku Abdul Rahman is the 2nd most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 47 different languages.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah (Jawi: تونكو عبدالرحمن ڤوترا الحاج إبن المرحوم سلطان عبدالحميد حليم شاه; 8 February 1903 – 6 December 1990) was a Malaysian statesman and lawyer who served as the first prime minister of Malaysia and the head of government of its predecessor states from 1955 to 1970. He was the first Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya from 1955 to 1957. He supervised the independence process that culminated on 31 August 1957. As Malaya's first prime minister he dominated politics there for the next 13 years. In 1963, he successfully incorporated the Federation of Malaya, British North Borneo (renamed Sabah), Sarawak, and Singapore into the state of Malaysia. However, tensions between the Malay and Chinese communities resulted in Singapore's expulsion in 1965. His poor performance during race riots in Kuala Lumpur in 1969 led to his resignation in 1970. Commonly known simply as "Tunku" (a Malay royal title), Tunku Abdul Rahman is widely regarded, even by his critics, as Malaysia's "founding father", the architect of Malayan independence and of the formation of Malaysia. As such, he is often referred to as Father of Independence (Bapa Kemerdekaan) or Father of Malaysia (Bapa Malaysia).

Photo of Abdul Halim of Kedah

3. Abdul Halim of Kedah (1927 - 2017)

With an HPI of 68.91, Abdul Halim of Kedah is the 3rd most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.

Al-Sultan Al-Mu’tassimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku Al-Haj Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah (Jawi: المرحوم سلطان عبدالحاليم معظم شاه ابن المرحوم سلطان بدليشاه; 28 November 1927 – 11 September 2017) was the 28th Sultan of Kedah, reigning from 1958 to 2017. He served as the fifth Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia from 1970 to 1975, and as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong from 2011 to 2016. He was the first ruler to reign as Yang di-Pertuan Agong twice, as well as the oldest elected to the office. Immediately prior to his death, he was the second longest-reigning living monarch in the world after Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

4. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (1939 - )

With an HPI of 68.45, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is the 4th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.

Tun Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi (Jawi: عبدالله بن أحمد بداوي; born 26 November 1939) is a Malaysian politician who served as the fifth prime minister of Malaysia from 2003 to 2009. He was also the president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the largest political party (that time) in Malaysia, and led the governing Barisan Nasional parliamentary coalition. He is informally known as Pak Lah, Pak meaning 'Uncle', while Lah is taken from his name 'Abdullah'. He was also a Member of Parliament (MP) for Kepala Batas for eight consecutive terms, that was from 1978 to 2013. Currently, he serves as the Chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP).

Photo of Abdul Razak Hussein

5. Abdul Razak Hussein (1922 - 1976)

With an HPI of 67.79, Abdul Razak Hussein is the 5th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Tun Haji Abdul Razak bin Dato' Hussein (Jawi: عبدالرزاق بن حسين; 11 March 1922 – 14 January 1976) was a Malaysian politician who served as the second prime minister of Malaysia from September 1970 to his death in January 1976. He is referred to as the Father of Development (Bapa Pembangunan). Tun Razak was the prime minister responsible for setting up Barisan Nasional, which is the ruling coalition of political parties that held power in Malaysia till 10 May 2018, with Barisan Nasional losing the 14th Malaysia General Election under his son Najib Razak, taking over from its predecessor, the Alliance. He is also renowned for launching the Malaysian New Economic Policy (MNEP).

Photo of Muhyiddin Yassin

6. Muhyiddin Yassin (1947 - )

With an HPI of 66.57, Muhyiddin Yassin is the 6th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.

Tan Sri Dato' Haji Mahiaddin bin Md. Yasin (Jawi: ماهيا الدين بن مد ياسين; born 15 May 1947), familiarly known as Muhyiddin bin Mohd. Yassin (Jawi: محي الدين بن محمد ياسين; IPA: [muhjɪddɪn bɪn ˈmuɦɑmmæd jɑ̀ssɪn]), is a Malaysian politician who served as the eighth prime minister of Malaysia from March 2020 to August 2021. Appointed as premier amid a political crisis, Muhyiddin served for 17 months and resigned after losing parliamentary support, making him the shortest-serving prime minister in Malaysian history. Muhyiddin grew up in the state of Johor and joined the state public service after graduating from University of Malaya (UM). He assumed management positions at various state-owned companies. In 1978, he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Pagoh. During this term, he was appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, deputy minister of federal territories and later deputy minister of trade and industry. As the Johor UMNO chief, he was the state's Menteri Besar from 1986 to 1995. He returned to federal politics in 1995. He was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister of Youth and Sports. He was appointed Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs after the 1999 general election and became a vice president of UMNO in 2000. Under the premiership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Muhyiddin served as Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry from 2004 to 2008, and then as Minister of International Trade and Industry from 2008 to 2009. In 2008, he contested and won the UMNO deputy presidency and was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009. As Minister of Education, Muhyiddin ended the use of English as the medium of instruction for science and mathematics in public schools. He also attracted controversy after describing himself as "Malay first" when challenged by the Opposition to pronounce himself as "Malaysian first". Muhyiddin was a vocal critical of his government and party over the 1MDB scandal; as a result, he was dropped from his position during Najib's mid-term cabinet reshuffle in July 2015, marking the first incumbent UMNO deputy president to be left out of the president's cabinet. In June 2016, he was expelled from UMNO.He founded the political party Malaysian United Indigenous Party (BERSATU) in 2016. He returned to the cabinet after his coalition of parties Pakatan Harapan won the 2018 Malaysian general election. In February 2020, BERSATU withdrew from Pakatan Harapan, culminating in a political crisis as the coalition lost its majority in the Dewan Rakyat. Following Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's subsequent resignation, Muhyiddin successfully formed new coalition Perikatan Nasional by receiving support from enough MPs to form a majority government, and was appointed Prime Minister on 1 March. Much of his premiership was overseeing Malaysia's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which became a major crisis shortly after he took office. This included enacting several iterations of the Movement Control Order (MCO), a vaccination programme and declaring a 2021 state of emergency, where parliament and elections were suspended. Although his government's initial response was praised by the WHO and had high local approval ratings, the worsening of the COVID-19 crisis in 2021 attracted criticism and destablised the coalition. Major coalition party UMNO withdrew support for Muhyiddin and called for his resignation, in a continuation of the country's political crisis. On 16 August 2021, he resigned after attempts to regain support from MPs were unsuccessful. He remained caretaker Prime Minister until his replacement Ismail Sabri Yaakob was selected on 20 August 2021.

Photo of Najib Razak

7. Najib Razak (1953 - )

With an HPI of 65.69, Najib Razak is the 7th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.

Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak (Jawi: محمد نجيب بن عبدالرزاق, Malay pronunciation: [muˈhämmäd˺ ˈnäd͡ʒɪb˺ -d͡ʒeb˺]; born 23 July 1953) is a Malaysian politician who served as the sixth prime minister of Malaysia from April 2009 to May 2018. He is the son of another former prime minister, Abdul Razak Hussein. Najib Razak was the chairman of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition from April 2009 to May 2018 and the president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) from November 2008 to May 2018, which had maintained control of Malaysia's government with a parliamentary majority for more than sixty years until the coalition's defeat in the 2018 general election. He is also referred to as Father of Transformation (Bapa Transformasi). Najib was elected to the Parliament of Malaysia in 1976, at the age of 23, replacing his deceased father in the Pahang-based seat of Pekan. In the same year, he was appointed the head of UMNO Youth's Pekan branch and became a member of the youth wing's Executive Council. In the early years of his political career, Najib took on a deputy minister role in 1976, and between 1982 and 1986, he was the Menteri Besar of Pahang. Thereafter, until 2009, he was rotated throughout the Cabinet of Malaysia, taking on various ministerial portfolios in defence, education, culture, youth and sports, and finally finance. Between 1993 and 2009, Najib was a vice-president of UMNO. Najib's tenure as prime minister, between 2009 and 2018, was marked by economic liberalisation measures, such as cuts to government subsidies, loosening of restrictions on foreign investment, and reductions in preferential measures for ethnic Malays in business. After the 2013 election his government was marked by the pursuit of a number of its critics on sedition charges, the imprisonment of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim following a conviction for sodomy and the implementation of a Goods and Services Tax (GST). He became implicated in a major corruption scandal involving state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) which led to rallies calling for Najib's resignation, spearheaded by the grassroots movement Bersih. These protests culminated in the Malaysian Citizens' Declaration by Mahathir Mohamad, Pakatan Harapan and NGOs which sought to oust Najib.Najib's response to the corruption accusations was to tighten his grip on power by replacing then-deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, suspending two newspapers and pushing through parliament a controversial National Security Council Bill that provides the prime minister with unprecedented powers. Najib's various subsidy cuts have contributed to soaring living costs, while fluctuating oil prices and the fallout from the 1MDB scandal led to a depreciation of the Malaysian currency. These ended with BN's loss in the 2018 general elections, which Najib then accepted the results of the election and promised to help facilitate a smooth transition of power. Najib remains as a backbencher in the Parliament of Malaysia. On 3 July 2018, Najib was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), having investigated how RM42 million (US$10.6 million) went from SRC International, a company related to 1MDB, into Najib's bank account. In the process, the police had seized a number of fashion accessories worth $273 million while searching through his properties. Najib was subsequently charged with abuse of power, multiple counts of criminal breach of trust and money laundering, and tampering with the 1MDB audit report. On 28 July 2020, the High Court convicted Najib on all seven counts of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust, becoming the first Prime Minister of Malaysia to be convicted of corruption, and was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment and fined RM210 million.

Photo of Hussein Onn

8. Hussein Onn (1922 - 1990)

With an HPI of 65.57, Hussein Onn is the 8th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Tun Hussein bin Dato' Onn (Jawi: حسين بن عون; 12 February 1922 – 29 May 1990) was a Malaysian politician who served as the third prime minister of Malaysia from the death of his predecessor Abdul Razak Hussein in January 1976 to his retirement in July 1981. Moreover, he was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sri Gading from 1974 to 1981, representing Barisan Nasional (BN) and United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). He was granted the soubriquet Father of Unity (Bapa Perpaduan).

Photo of Abdullah of Pahang

9. Abdullah of Pahang (1959 - )

With an HPI of 65.16, Abdullah of Pahang is the 9th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta'in Billah (Jawi: السلطان عبدالله رعاية الدين المصطفى بالله شاه الحاج ابن المرحوم سلطان حاج احمد شاه المستعين بالله; listen ; born 30 July 1959) has reigned as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia and the 6th Sultan of Pahang since January 2019. He was proclaimed as sultan on 15 January 2019, succeeding his father, Sultan Ahmad Shah, whose abdication was decided at a Royal Council meeting on 11 January 2019.On 24 January 2019, days after his accession to the throne of Pahang, he was elected as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the head of state, of Malaysia, and was sworn in on 31 January 2019. He was also a member of the FIFA Council from 2015 to 2019. Abdullah had considerable involvement in the 2020–21 Malaysian political crisis.

Photo of Yusof Ishak

10. Yusof Ishak (1910 - 1970)

With an HPI of 64.54, Yusof Ishak is the 10th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.

Tun Haji Yusof bin Ishak; (12 August 1910 – 23 November 1970) was a Singaporean politician who was the first president of Singapore, serving from 1965 to 1970. Before becoming head-of-state, Yusof was a well-known journalist and co-founded Utusan Melayu. He started journalism after he graduated from Raffles Institution in 1929 and in 1932, he joined Warta Malaya, a well-known Malay newspaper company at that time. He left the company in 1938 and co-founded Utusan Melayu.Yusof held many appointments within the Singaporean government. He served on the Film Appeal Committee from 1948 to 1950 and was also a member of both the Nature Reserves Committee and Malayanisation Commission for a year. In July 1959, he was appointed Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Singapore. He was sworn on 3 December that year as Singapore's Yang di-Pertuan Negara (head of state) after the PAP won the first election held in Singapore after Singapore's self-governance. Yusof then became the first president of Singapore after the country gained independence on 9 August 1965. Yusof served for three terms in office before he died on 23 November 1970 due to heart failure. His portrait appears on the Singapore Portrait Series currency notes introduced in 1999.

Pantheon has 22 people classified as politicians born between 1895 and 1969. Of these 22, 9 (40.91%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and Muhyiddin Yassin. The most famous deceased politicians include Tunku Abdul Rahman, Abdul Halim of Kedah, and Abdul Razak Hussein. As of October 2020, 2 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Muhyiddin Yassin and Ja'afar of Negeri Sembilan.

Living Politicians

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Deceased Politicians

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Newly Added Politicians (2020)

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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 13 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.