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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 87th most number of Politicians behind Slovenia and Armenia.

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 71.26, Mahathir Mohamad is the most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 82 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 4th and 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia. He held the 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 becoming premier, he served as Deputy Prime Minister and in other cabinet positions. He was a Member of Parliament for Langkawi from May 2018 to October 2022, 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, 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. 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 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 1987 Operation Lalang and later his own Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, whom he fired in 1998. Mahathir's record of curtailing civil liberties in Malaysia as well as his antagonism towards Western interests and economic policy made his relationships with Western nations difficult. As prime minister, he was an advocate of Asian development models and values, and was prominent across the Muslim world. After retiring in 2003, Mahathir became a strident critic of his hand-picked successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and later Najib Razak. In 2016, Mahathir quit UMNO over the 1MDB corruption scandal. As part of the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (BERSATU), he went on to lead the Pakatan Harapan opposition to victory in the 2018 general election. Mahathir became the first Malaysian prime minister not to represent the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition (or its predecessor, the Alliance Party), and the first to serve non-consecutive terms. In his second tenure, Mahathir prioritised reopening investigations into the 1MDB scandal, combatting corruption and "restoring the rule of law", and cutting spending on large infrastructure projects such as those under the Belt and Road Initiative. Prior to the election, Mahathir promised to seek a pardon for Anwar Ibrahim and hand over the premiership to him after an unspecified interim period. In 2020, Mahathir's refusal to commit to handing over the office of Prime Minister to Anwar contributed to a political crisis that led to Mahathir's resignation as Prime Minister and the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government. At the time of his resignation, he was the world's oldest serving state leader at the age of 94. Mahathir left BERSATU in protest of its new coalition with UMNO and formed the Homeland Fighters Party and coalition Gerakan Tanah Air. Mahathir subsequently lost his parliamentary seat for Langkawi and his election deposit in the 2022 general election.

Photo of Tunku Abdul Rahman

2. Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903 - 1990)

With an HPI of 63.87, 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 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 1st 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 60.27, Abdul Halim of Kedah is the 3rd most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Al-Sultan Al-Mu’tassimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku Al-Haj 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, 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 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

4. Abdul Razak Hussein (1922 - 1976)

With an HPI of 58.75, Abdul Razak Hussein is the 4th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 33 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 2nd Prime Minister of Malaysia from September 1970 until his death in January 1976. He also served as the first deputy prime minister of Malaysia from August 1957 to September 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 Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

5. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (1939 - )

With an HPI of 58.00, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is the 5th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Tun Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi (Jawi: عبد الله بن احمد بدوي; born 26 November 1939) is a Malaysian politician who served as the 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia from October 2003 to April 2009. He was also the sixth president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the largest political party (that time) in Malaysia, and led the governing Barisan Nasional (BN) 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 Hussein Onn

6. Hussein Onn (1922 - 1990)

With an HPI of 57.33, Hussein Onn is the 6th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 30 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 3rd 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 Muhyiddin Yassin

7. Muhyiddin Yassin (1947 - )

With an HPI of 56.97, Muhyiddin Yassin is the 7th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Tan Sri Dato' Haji Mahiaddin bin Md Yasin (born 15 May 1947), commonly known as Muhyiddin bin Muhammad Yassin (Jawi: محيي الدين بن محمد ياسين; IPA: [muhjɪddɪn bɪn ˈmuɦɑmmæd jɑ̀ssɪn]), is a Malaysian politician who served as the 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia from March 2020 to August 2021. Appointed as prime minister amid a political crisis, Muhyiddin served for 17 months and resigned after losing parliamentary support, making him the second shortest-serving prime minister in Malaysian history after Ismail Sabri Yaakob. He is the first ever former Prime Minister after resignation not awarded to title Tun. 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 critic 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 participated in founding the political party Malaysian United Indigenous Party (BERSATU) under Mahathir 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 destabilised 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 21 August 2021.

Photo of Najib Razak

8. Najib Razak (1953 - )

With an HPI of 56.39, Najib Razak is the 8th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.

Dato' Sri Haji 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 6th prime minister of Malaysia from April 2009 to May 2018. In 2020, he was convicted of corruption in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, one of the largest money-laundering 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 Abdullah of Pahang

9. Abdullah of Pahang (1959 - )

With an HPI of 55.16, Abdullah of Pahang is the 9th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 39 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 أحمد 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 2020–22 Malaysian political crisis.

Photo of Yusof Ishak

10. Yusof Ishak (1910 - 1970)

With an HPI of 54.89, Yusof Ishak is the 10th most famous Malaysian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.

Yusof bin Ishak (12 August 1910 – 23 November 1970) was a Singaporean politician and journalist who served as the first president of Singapore from 1965 until his death in 1970. Prior to becoming head of state, Yusof was a well-known journalist who co-founded Utusan Melayu, a daily newspaper that was in circulation until 9 October 2019. He started journalism after graduating from Raffles Institution in 1929, and joined Warta Malaya, a well-known Malay newspaper company, in 1932. He left the company in 1938 and co-founded Utusan Melayu.Yusof held many appointments within the Singapore Government. He served on the Film Appeal Committee between 1948 and 1950, and was 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 (PSC). He was sworn in on 3 December that year as Yang di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore after the People's Action Party (PAP) won the first election to be held after Singapore's move to self-governance. Yusof later became the first president of Singapore after the country gained independence on 9 August 1965. After serving three terms in office, Yusof died on 23 November 1970 due to heart failure. His portrait appears on the Singapore Portrait Series currency notes introduced in 1999.

Pantheon has 28 people classified as politicians born between 1895 and 1969. Of these 28, 12 (42.86%) 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 April 2022, 6 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Ling Liong Sik, and Putra of Perlis.

Living Politicians

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Deceased Politicians

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Newly Added Politicians (2022)

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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 16 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.