The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Malaysia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Malaysian Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,577 Politicians, 28 of which were born in Malaysia. This makes Malaysia the birth place of the 84th most number of Politicians behind Guatemala, and Somalia.

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 (b. 1925)

With an HPI of 71.73, Mahathir Mohamad is the most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 129 different languages on wikipedia.

Mahathir bin Mohamad (Jawi: محاضير بن محمد; IPA: [mahaðɪ(r) bɪn mohamad]; born 10 July 1925) is a Malaysian politician, author, and physician who served as the fourth and seventh prime minister of Malaysia. He held office from 1981 to 2003 and later from 2018 to 2020 for a cumulative total of 24 years, making him the country's longest-serving prime minister. Before becoming premier, he served as deputy prime minister and in other cabinet positions. He was a member of Parliament for Langkawi from 2018 to 2022, Kubang Pasu from 1974 to 2004, and Kota Star Selatan from 1964 to 1969. His political career spanned more than 75 years, from joining protests opposing citizenship policies for non-Malays in the Malayan Union in the 1940s to forming the Gerakan Tanah Air coalition in 2022. 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. In 1970, he released the book The Malay Dilemma. When Abdul Rahman resigned, Mahathir re-entered UMNO and parliament, and was promoted to Minister of Education from 1974 to 1978 and Minister of Trade and Industry from 1978 to 1981. He became deputy prime minister in 1976 before being sworn in as prime minister in 1981, succeeding Hussein Onn. During Mahathir's first tenure, Malaysia underwent modernisation 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 several rivals for UMNO's leadership. He centralised power through undermining judicial independence and supporting a constitutional amendment to remove legal immunity for royalty. He continued pro-bumiputera policies, and oversaw Malaysia's relatively fast recovery from the 1997 Asian financial crisis. In 1987, he detained various activists and religious figures under Operation Lalang, and in 1998 had his deputy Anwar Ibrahim arrested. His record of authoritarianism and curtailment of civil liberties strained relationships with the West. As prime minister, he was an advocate of Asian values and development models, and was particularly prominent across the Muslim world. Mahathir unexpectedly stepped down in 2003, but remained politically influential and was critical of his successors. He quit UMNO over the 1MDB corruption scandal in 2016, joining BERSATU and leading the Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition to victory in the 2018 general election. During his second tenure as prime minister, he pledged to investigate the 1MDB scandal, combat corruption, and cut spending on large infrastructure projects. He also secured the pardon and release of Anwar Ibrahim. Mahathir resigned in 2020 amidst a political crisis. Despite losing his parliamentary seat in the 2022 general election, he remained active in politics and shifted party affiliation several times. Mahathir's political views have shifted during his life, and are shaped by his Malay nationalism and Islamic religious beliefs.

Photo of Tunku Abdul Rahman

2. Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903 - 1990)

With an HPI of 64.86, Tunku Abdul Rahman is the 2nd most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah (Jawi: ‏تونكو عبد الرحمن ڤوترا الحاج ابن سلطان عبد الحميد 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 an independent Malaysia's first prime minister, he dominated the country's politics 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), 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 Abdullah of Pahang

3. Abdullah of Pahang (b. 1959)

With an HPI of 60.78, Abdullah of Pahang is the 3rd most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 44 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 ابن المرحوم سلطان حاج أحمد شاه المستعين بالله; ; born 30 July 1959) is the Sultan of Pahang since the abdication of his father in 2019. He was the sixteenth Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia, from 2019 to 2024, being sworn in just a few weeks after ascending to the throne as Sultan of Pahang. Notably, just days after being proclaimed Sultan of Pahang, Abdullah was elected as the sixteenth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the paramount constitutional monarch of Malaysia, a role he assumed on 31 January 2019. Abdullah played an unusually prominent role domestic politics, particularly during the 2020–22 Malaysian political crisis and the intricate negotiations that followed the 2022 general election, which resulted in a hung parliament. As a result of this, he is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who reigned over the most prime ministers during his tenure (Mahathir Mohamad, Muhyiddin Yassin, Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Anwar Ibrahim). Beyond his royal responsibilities, Abdullah was actively engaged in the realm of international sports governance, serving as a distinguished member of the FIFA Council from 2015 to 2019.

Photo of Anwar Ibrahim

4. Anwar Ibrahim (b. 1947)

With an HPI of 60.61, Anwar Ibrahim is the 4th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.

Anwar bin Ibrahim (Jawi: انور بن ابراهيم‎, IPA: [anwar ɪbrahɪm]; born 10 August 1947) is a Malaysian politician who has served as the tenth Prime Minister of Malaysia since 2022. He served as the 12th and 16th Leader of the Opposition from 2008 to 2015 and again from 2020 to 2022. He has been the chairman of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition since 2020, the second President of the People's Justice Party (PKR) since 2018 and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tambun since November 2022. He also served as Deputy Prime Minister and in many other Cabinet positions in the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration under former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad from 1982 to his removal in 1998. A graduate of the University of Malaya, Anwar started his political career as President of student union Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM) and one of the founders and 2nd President of youth organisation Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM). After joining the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the major party in the long-time ruling BN coalition, Anwar held several cabinet positions in successive governments in the 1980s and 1990s. He was deputy prime minister and Finance Minister during the 1990s and was prominent in Malaysia's response to the 1997 Asian financial crisis. In 1998, he was removed from all posts by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and went on to spearhead the Reformasi movement against the government. Anwar was jailed in April 1999, until his release in 2004 after his conviction was overturned. He made a comeback as Leader of the Opposition from 2008 to 2015 and coalesced opposition parties into the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition, which unsuccessfully contested in the 2008 and 2013 general elections. He disputed the results of the 2013 elections and led a protest in response. In 2014, Anwar's attempt to become Selangor head of government in the 2014 Kajang Move led to a nine-month political crisis, which ended when he was sentenced to another extensive five years imprisonment after a second sodomy conviction in 2015. While still in prison, Anwar re-joined Mahathir Mohamad in the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition in absentia, which went on to win the 2018 general election. Mahathir outlined a plan for Anwar to take over from himself as prime minister after an unspecified interim period. Anwar received a royal pardon from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Muhammad V and was released from prison in May 2018. He returned to parliament in the 2018 Port Dickson by-election while his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail served as the Deputy Prime Minister in the PH administration. The collapse of the coalition during the 2020–22 Malaysian political crisis led to the new Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition under Muhyiddin Yassin being sworn in and Anwar becoming Leader of the Opposition for the second time in May 2020. After leading Pakatan Harapan to win a plurality of seats at the 2022 Malaysian general election, Anwar was sworn in as the tenth Prime Minister of Malaysia on 24 November 2022. On 2 December 2022, Anwar appointed various members of Parliament from Pakatan Harapan, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), and UMNO to serve as ministers in the cabinet of the newly formed unity government. Anwar named himself as the Finance Minister. During his tenure, he and his government faced criticism for implementing numerous conservative policies, as well as the discharge not amounting to the acquittal of current Malaysian deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who faced corruption charges. Moreover, former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak also saw his prison sentence halved and fine reduced during Anwar's tenure, sparking further controversy. Anwar has long been an advocate for Islamic democracy and reforms to Malaysia's political system. Outside of politics, Anwar has held positions at various academic institutions. Unlike the previous Prime Ministers of Malaysia who held Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at Seri Perdana, Anwar does not held Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at Seri Perdana upon his appointment as tenth Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Photo of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

5. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (b. 1939)

With an HPI of 60.47, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is the 5th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.

Tun Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi (Jawi: عبد الله بن احمد بدوي, Malay pronunciation: [abdullah]; born 26 November 1939) is a Malaysian retired politician who served as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia from 2003 to 2009. He was also the sixth president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the largest political party (at the time) in Malaysia, and led the governing Barisan Nasional (BN) parliamentary coalition. He is informally known as Pak Lah, Pak meaning 'Uncle' or 'Sir', while Lah is taken from his name 'Abdullah'. He was also a Member of Parliament (MP) for Kepala Batas for eight consecutive terms, from 1978 to 2013. During the later part of Abdullah's administration, his government faced criticism for economic policies and performance, including concerns about inflation and the rising cost of living.

Photo of Abdul Halim of Kedah

6. Abdul Halim of Kedah (1927 - 2017)

With an HPI of 60.33, Abdul Halim of Kedah is the 6th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.

Al-Mu’tassimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah (Jawi: المرحوم السلطان المعتصم بالله محب الدين توانکو الحاج عبدالحليم معظم شاه ابن المرحوم سلطان بدلي شاه; 28 November 1927 – 11 September 2017) was the 28th Sultan of Kedah from 1958 until his death in 2017, the fifth Yang di-Pertuan Agong from 1970 to 1975, and again as the fourteenth from 2011 to 2016. He was the first and only 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 Abdul Razak Hussein

7. Abdul Razak Hussein (1922 - 1976)

With an HPI of 58.64, Abdul Razak Hussein is the 7th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Tun Haji Abdul Razak bin Dato' Hussein (Jawi: عبد الرزاق بن حسين; 11 March 1922 – 14 January 1976) was a Malaysian lawyer and politician who served as the second prime minister of Malaysia from 1970 until his death in 1976. He also served as the first deputy prime minister of Malaysia from 1957 to 1970. He is referred to as the Father of Development (Bapa Pembangunan). Abdul Razak was the figure responsible for setting up Barisan Nasional (BN), which is the ruling coalition of political parties that held power in Malaysia. Abdul Razak is also renowned for launching the Malaysian New Economic Policy (MNEP). His eldest son, Najib Razak, became the sixth prime minister in 2009; Najib is the first prime minister of Malaysia to be a descendant of a former prime minister.

Photo of Najib Razak

8. Najib Razak (b. 1953)

With an HPI of 58.04, Najib Razak is the 8th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 66 different languages.

Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak (Jawi: محمد نجيب بن عبد الرزاق, Malay pronunciation: [muhammad nadʒɪb]; born 23 July 1953) is a Malaysian politician who served as the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia from 2009 to 2018. In 2020, he was convicted of corruption in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, one of the largest money-laundering and embezzlement scandals in history. He is the son of 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. 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 pursued 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 also led the country through the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disaster and a dispute with North Korea following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam. In 2015, Najib became implicated in a major corruption scandal involving state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) which led to rallies calling for his 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, the results of which Najib then accepted and promised to help facilitate a smooth transition of power. On 3 July 2018, Najib was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which 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 seized a number of fashion accessories worth $273 million while searching through his properties. Najib was subsequently charged and convicted by the High Court on 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. The sentence was upheld by the Federal Court on 23 August 2022. He is currently serving his sentence in Kajang Prison.

Photo of Iskandar of Johor

9. Iskandar of Johor (1932 - 2010)

With an HPI of 57.70, Iskandar of Johor is the 9th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Sultan Iskandar ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail (Jawi: المتوكل على ﷲ سلطان إسكندر الحاج ابن المرحوم سلطان إسماعيل الخالدي; 8 April 1932 – 22 January 2010) was Sultan of Johor, succeeding his father Sultan Ismail upon the latter's death in 1981. He previously reigned as the eighth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the constitutional monarch of Malaysia, from 1984 to 1989. Sultan Iskandar's reign lasted for almost 29 years until his own death in 2010. His children are married into the different royal houses of Malaysia. His eldest daughter Tunku Kamariah married the Tengku Laksamana of Selangor, Tengku Sulaiman Shah. His successor and eldest son Sultan Ibrahim married Raja Zarith Sofiah of the Perak Royal Family. His daughter Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah married the heir apparent of Pahang, now Sultan Abdullah. His younger son Tunku Abdul Majid married a member of the Kedah Royal Family, Tunku Teh Mazni. As was the case with his grandfather, Sultan Ibrahim, Sultan Iskandar's independent mindset resulted in strained relations with the Malaysian federal government on numerous occasions. This was more so during his days as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, whereby a number of notable public incidents involved Sultan Iskandar. Nevertheless, Sultan Iskandar was reputed to show great concern to his subjects, and was held in high esteem by many of his subjects–particularly the Malays and Orang Aslis. His time as the Sultan of Johor was marred by accusations of violence and brutality. Sultan Iskandar was notorious for his bad temper which often resulted in violent episodes of rage and brutality to members of his staff and the general public. The 1992 Gomez incident surrounding the Sultan eventually culminated in the removal of "legal immunity" for members of the royal family. Sultan Iskandar is reputed to have been a staunch disciplinarian, with willingness to occasionally voice personal opinions on governmental issues. On the personal side, subjects who have personally approached the Sultan in his later years described him as a person with a warm and generous personality. However, past critics had also argued that Sultan Iskandar was a person with a turbulent temper. These claims were made by citing records of past notorious incidents, which include an experience of being disinherited from being the Tunku Mahkota of Johor (or Crown Prince in English) by his father, in 1961, as well as a series of alleged criminal acts occurring between the 1970s and the 1990s which were published in the press and provoked widespread moral outrage within the Malaysian public. During his younger days as a prince, Iskandar was commonly known by his first name, "Mahmood" or his full name "Mahmood Iskandar". He largely discontinued the use of his first name after he became Sultan in 1981, although some people still referred to him by his full name on an occasional basis.

Photo of Hussein Onn

10. Hussein Onn (1922 - 1990)

With an HPI of 57.06, Hussein Onn is the 10th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Tun Hussein bin Dato' Onn (Jawi: حسين بن عون; 12 February 1922 – 29 May 1990) was a Malaysian lawyer and politician who served as the third Prime Minister of Malaysia from the death of his predecessor Abdul Razak Hussein in 1976 to his retirement in 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).

People

Pantheon has 31 people classified as Malaysian politicians born between 1895 and 1969. Of these 31, 13 (41.94%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Malaysian politicians include Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah of Pahang, and Anwar Ibrahim. The most famous deceased Malaysian politicians include Tunku Abdul Rahman, Abdul Halim of Kedah, and Abdul Razak Hussein. As of April 2024, 3 new Malaysian politicians have been added to Pantheon including Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, and Penny Wong.

Living Malaysian Politicians

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Deceased Malaysian Politicians

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Newly Added Malaysian Politicians (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 17 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.