7 Things to know about Ismail Sabri, Malaysia's 9th Prime Minister
Man of the hour
Third time’s the charm? Former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is now the ninth Prime Minister of Malaysia. He is Malaysia’s third Prime Minister in three years, following the resignation of former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday, 16 August.
Ismail Sabri will be sworn in by the King this Saturday, 2:30pm, at Istana Negara. Out of 220 members of Parliament (MPs), 114 backed him for the top position, giving him a slim majority sufficient to form the new government.
What was the topic of our new Prime Minister's thesis? Who are his family? Why did he go viral for his shirts? Being curious ourselves, we've put together seven things to know about the man of the hour:
1. A son of Pahang
He was born on 18 January, 1960 in Temerloh, Pahang—making him 61 years old. He attended primary school at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bangau (1967) before moving to Kuantan, the state capital of Pahang, to continue his secondary education at Sekolah Menengah Air Putih (1973). He then transferred to Sekolah Menengah Teknik Kuantan, Pahang (1976), before completing Form Six at Jaya Akademik.
2. Formerly a lawyer
In 1980 at the University of Malaya, Ismail Sabri pursued a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). We’d love to sneak a peek at his thesis, about the treatment of political detainees in Malaysia, and hear more about his thoughts on the matter.
His legal career was cut short when, after just two years of working as a lawyer, he was appointed a Member of the Temerloh District Council in 1987.
3. A man of sports and culture
1995 was Ismail Sabri’s breakthrough year, as he was chosen to be Political Secretary to the Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism (then Datuk Sabbaruddin Chik). In the same year, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Pahang Tenggara Board (DARA) and the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board.
The next year, in 1996, he was promoted to a Member of the Temerloh Municipal Council. Sports may get a boost under our new PM, as Ismail Sabri is well-acquainted with the field, serving as Chairman of the National Sports Complex before entering Parliament in 2004, as the first member of the new seat of Bera.
4. Other positions he’s held
In 1987, Ismail Sabri held his first position in UMNO, as a Member of the Temerloh UMNO Division Committee. He went on to rise in ranks within Temerloh UMNO as Division Information Chief, Division Head of Youth Movement, Deputy Head of Division, and ultimately, Head of Temerloh UMNO Division in 2004. He was elected to Parliament in the 2004 election, becoming the first member of the new seat of Bera.
He is currently Deputy President of UMNO. The new Prime Minister has also held various portfolios as a cabinet minister:
- Minister for Youth and Sports (2008–2009)
- Minister for Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (2009–2013)
- Minister for Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry (2013–2015)
- Minister of Rural and Regional Development (2015–2018)
- Minister of Defence and Senior Minister of Malaysia (Security Cluster) (2020–2021)
5. Who’s who in the new “first family” of Malaysia
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri and Datin Seri Muhaini Zainal Abidin tied the knot in 1986. Over the years, they’ve raised four children: Three sons, and one daughter. His eldest, Datin Nina Sabrina, is married to fashion designer Jovian Mandagie. Their child, Jeanelle Nika Mandagie, is the apple of her grandfather’s eyes.
Ismail Sabri’s son, Gaddafi—who goes by Dafi—is the other famous member of the family. A singer and actor, he’s a Akademi Fantasia alumni and (fun fact) voiced Troy in the Bahasa Malaysia dub of High School Musical.
6. Adventurous with his shirts
As the father-in-law of a prominent name in fashion, the new Prime Minister’s bold fashion choices—at least when it comes to his shirts—has sparked the people’s imagination more than once. Throughout the pandemic, Ismail Sabri was often called upon, in his former role as Senior Minister (Security Cluster), to deliver briefings on the country’s daily Covid-19 situation.
One creative genius has even likened the shirts he’s worn to kuih, ice cream and other desserts. Mandagie says he, along with Ismail Sabri’s wife—Datin Seri Muhaini—frequently provide his father-in-law with fashion advice.
It seems like our new PM expresses his adventurous side through fashion, as seen in his fondness for bright colours and eye-catching prints.
7. Shortest-ruling Deputy Prime Minister
Before becoming Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri’s name had already gone down in Malaysian history as the shortest-ruling Deputy Prime Minister. His term lasted for only 40 days.
While we don’t know yet what contributions the new government will make to the country, we can be sure that interesting times are ahead.