Facts about Ismail Sabri, Malaysia’s new Prime Minister


The resignation of the eighth Prime Minister of Malaysia led to a whirlwind of events in the past week that had many of us glued to our devices for developments. In what appears to be a finale to the current political situation, Malaysia now has a new Prime Minister. Here are 10 quick facts about Malaysia’s new PM, Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob


1. Ismail Sabri is the third-oldest appointed Prime Minister


Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts
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Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Ismail Sabri was born on 18th January 1960 in Temerloh, Pahang. This puts him at 61 years of age when he was appointed Malaysia’s ninth Prime Minister (PM), or Perdana Menteri. It also makes him the third-oldest appointed PM, following after his predecessors, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin – who were appointed Prime Minister when they were 93 years old and 73 years old respectively.


2. He’s also the third Prime Minister appointed in three years


Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts
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Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Besides becoming the third-oldest appointed PM in Malaysia’s history, he is also the third PM appointed in Malaysia in three years. His appointment by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on 20th August 2021 follows after Mahathir’s term as PM from May 2018 to February 2020, and Muhyiddin’s term from March 2020 to August 2021.


3. His appointment to PM marks the return of UMNO to premiership


Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts
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Ismail Sabri Yaakob

He received majority support of 114 members from Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives), according to a press statement released by Istana Negara, which led to his appointment as the Prime Minister by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. As the vice- president of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), his premiership will see a return to power of the once-longest-governing political party in Malaysia, following its loss in the 14th General Elections in 2018.


4. He used to deliver Covid-19 updates for Malaysia


Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts
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Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Ismail Sabri became a familiar face to many due to his involvement in the nation’s pandemic-related affairs since the first lockdown. He used to deliver non-health related Covid-19 updates, such as standard operating procedures (SOPs), via press conferences and live telecasts on behalf of the National Security Council – which many Malaysians might remember tuning into to keep themselves updated with our country’s fight against Covid-19.

His duties were later handed over to Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein in July 2021.


5. Wife helped picked out his famous batik shirts


Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts
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Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Malaysians might also remember Ismail Sabri for the famously colourful batik shirts he wore during his Covid-19-related daily media announcements. They went viral after netizens compared them with desserts – including local sweet treats such as kuih muih and kueh lapis.

He noted their humour in a Facebook post shared back in May 2020, where he applauded Malaysian netizens’ creativity and joked that he unintentionally became a “food model”. In an interview with New Straits Times in the same month, he said that his wife helps pick out his batik shirts.

He also acknowledged another round of Malaysian netizen humour on display when they commented their ‘bids’ for items on his shelf during his live Covid-19 updates. Items they took notice of include helmets, tupperwares and a keris.


6. He served as DPM for only 40 days


Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts
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Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Prior to his appointment as PM, Ismail Sabri served as Malaysia’s 13th Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) upon appointment by former PM Muhyiddin. He was appointed on 7th July 2021. However, following the resignation of Muhyiddin and the dissolution of the Cabinet under him, his term in this high-ranking role ended just 40 days after that, on 16th August 2021 – making him Malaysia’s shortest-serving DPM. 


7. He’s an alumni of the University of Malaya


Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts
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Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Ismail Sabri is an alumni of Universiti Malaya (University of Malaya), much like his predecessors Muhyiddin, Mahathir and Tun Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi. While Ismail Sabri’s become a recognisable figure in Malaysia’s political scene, the new PM initially studied to become a lawyer while enrolled in the KL-located university. He made the move into politics after he was appointed Member of Temerloh District Council in 1987, and Political Secretary to the Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism in 1995. 


8. He’s served several ministerial posts since 2008


Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts
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Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Ismail Sabri’s political career has seen him take on diverse Cabinet roles, and under several administrations. He was first appointed Minister of Youth & Sports for a year, from 2008 to 2009, in Badawi’s Cabinet. He later served as Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism from 2009 to 2013 under Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the sixth Malaysia PM.

He continued to be part of Najib’s Cabinet upon the latter’s reelection at the 2013 General Elections. He was first Minister for Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, and later Minister of Rural and Regional Development – serving for three years in each respective role.

In 2021, Ismail Sabri was appointed Senior Minister of Malaysia (Security Cluster) and Minister of Defence, and later promoted to DPM, under the eighth Malaysia PM.


9. He became Bera MP in 2004 


Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts
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Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Ismail Sabri’s birthplace is in Temerloh. Just a stone’s throw from there is federal constituency Bera in Bera District, Pahang, which our new PM has been representing as a Member of Parliament (MP) since 2004. He’s been MP of Bera for four terms now – or 17 years – as of 2021, since the district was given a vote in Parliament in 2004.

Bera district was separated from Temerloh district in 1992.


10. He’s a loud-and-proud family-oriented man


Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts
Image credit: Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Apart from proudly declaring that his wife picks out his clothes from him, Ismail Sabri is also pretty open when it comes to talking about his family. Take a scroll through his official Facebook page and you’ll see photos of his family speckled throughout his feed – including a recent one with his wife and oyen.

He also shared his sympathy with separated families during the various bouts of lockdown on his Instagram page, citing his role as a father himself. In the same previously mentioned New Straits Times interview, he also shared his sadness over being unable to see his granddaughter as he used to do so before the pandemic.

Ismail Sabri married his wife, Muhaini Zainal Abidi, in 1986. Together, they have four children – one of whom is Gadaffi Ismail Sabri, or Dafi, a professional singer.


Ismail Sabri Yaakob facts


Ismail Sabri’s appointment as the new PM of Malaysia sees him handed the important task of looking after the country and its people – including leading Malaysia out of the Covid-19 pandemic. Only time will tell how long the pandemic continues to persist, with Malaysia recording high daily cases in recent days, and how well he performs in this new role appointed to him by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

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Cover image adapted from: Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Ismail Sabri Yaakob

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