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Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib, who is currently in prison, used to be a prominent politician

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News Politics: Najib Razak, 69, is Malaysia’s first former prime minister to be imprisoned; this is a precipitous fall for the seasoned politician with a degree from the University of London, whose father and uncle served as the nation’s second and third prime ministers, respectively. The massive 1MDB financial crisis, which was directly linked to him, dealt him a personal blow but also briefly loosed his party, the United Malays National Organization, from its political shackles in Malaysia. Since Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957, UMNO has led the National Front coalition government with the support of the nation’s ethnic Malay majority. The 1MDB state investment fund was established by Najib soon after assuming power in 2009. According to the US Justice Department and other investigators, at least $4.5 billion was involved.

Najib had once cast himself as a liberal and reforming leader of the predominantly Muslim country of over 33 million people. He speaks impeccable English with a posh accent, has his own blog and has a strong social media following.

The Court of Appeal upheld his conviction and sentence in December, describing the case as a “national embarrassment.” On Tuesday, the Federal Court affirmed the lower court’s decision, sending Najib straight to prison to begin his sentence.

At the same time, he often seemed far removed from the concerns of ordinary Malaysians and the poor rural Malays who are the bedrock of his UMNO party. He was mocked by the opposition for once saying he prefers eating quinoa, an expensive imported South American grain, to rice, a staple of the Malaysian diet.

However, his National Front coalition suffered a further loss of support in 2013, losing the popular vote to the opposition for the first time though still winning 133 of 222 parliamentary seats

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