Najib: From Powerful PM to Graft Suspect

Najib: From Powerful PM to Graft Suspect

From prime minister two months ago to key suspect in a massive corruption scandal, Najib Razak's stunning fall from grace has been swift and hard.

 
Since his shock election defeat in May, Najib has faced a tightening noose as the new government headed by his former mentor Dr Mahathir Mohamad ramped up investigations into allegations of graft and excess that have hung over him and his wife Rosmah Mansor for years.

The bland patrician son of one of Malaysia's founding fathers, Najib, 64, had been groomed for the prime minister's post from young.

When he took over in 2009, Najib initially presented himself as a reformer.

 
He made limited changes such as replacing security laws widely criticised as stifling dissent, offering a glimmer of hope for the end to repressive tactics by the once-invincible coalition that had held power for six decades.

But the UK-educated Najib was seen by many as an aloof elitist with little understanding of Malaysia's common citizenry, a perception accentuated by frequent tone-deaf gaffes and policies such as the 2015 introduction of a sales tax unpopular with the poor and now set to be eliminated.

Rosmah, meanwhile, was a constant lightning rod for critics due to her imperious manner and elaborately coiffed mane of hair, which she once complained cost her RM1,200 per house-call from stylists. Malaysia's minimum monthly wage at the time was RM900.

That and similar episodes caused her to be reviled in a multi-cultural country where most of the population are modest-living Muslims.

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