Hishammuddin Hussein

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"Keris-kisser Hishammuddin did tremendous damage to inter-ethnic relations and was a contributory factor in the 2008 political tsunami. If he was not Najib's cousin, he would not be Home Minister."  —  Aliran [1]
Hishammuddin Hussein on 11 April 2014, 35 days after Flight MH370 went missing, as the government acknowledged the mistakes that it had made in the initial hours and days of the search. [2]

Hishammuddin bin Tun Hussein (born 1961, age 52) is the Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Transport, since 16 May 2013, after the general elections.


2.  Early life: Born in Kuala Lumpur, Hishammuddin Hussein is the son of Tun Hussein Onn, the 3rd Prime Minister of Malaysia, and the grandson of Dato' Onn Jaafar, the founder of UMNO. He is also the cousin of the current Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak. In 1973, after his father became Deputy Prime Minister, Hishammuddin who was then attending the Malay College (MCKK) in Kuala Kangsar, transferred to the Alice Smith School in Kuala Lumpur, before studying in a private school abroad. In 1984, he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Hishammuddin subsequently attended the London School of Economics and received a Master of Laws (LL.M) in Commercial and Corporate Law in 1988. After his graduation, he was attached to Skrine & Co. as a lawyer, and later became a partner in the legal firm, Lee Hishammuddin (now Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill).


3.  Political career: In the 9th Malaysian general election of 1995, Hishammuddin was elected Member of Parliament for the Tenggara parliamentary constituency in Johor and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.[3] He was promoted to Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Primary Industries in 1997. Subsequent to his election as Chairman of UMNO Youth in 2000, Hishammuddin was promoted to Minister of Youth and Sports. He was appointed Minister of Education in 2004.

Muslim politics: Hishammuddin's infamous act of waving the keris (traditional Malay dagger) at the UMNO Annual General Meeting in 2005 drew applause from the UMNO delegates, but was widely ridiculed and parodied in the Malaysian blogosphere.
Hishammuddin Hussein kisses a keris during the UMNO annual assembly in Kuala Lumpur on 25 March 2009.[4]

4.  Controversy:

  • In 2005, Hishammuddin Hussein became infamous for waving the keris (traditional Malay dagger) at the UMNO Annual General Meeting. Although applauded by the Malay delegates at the UMNO General Assembly, the picture of Hishammuddin with the keris was widely ridiculed and parodied in the Malaysian blogosphere. Hishammuddin defended his usage of the keris, saying it was meant "to motivate the Malays", and denying that it was a symbol of Malay supremacy.[5] However, Chinese politicians declared themselves unconvinced by his explanations, with the Malaysian Chinese Association (a member of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition) Youth chief, Liow Tiong Lai, saying that "If I hold a Chinese sword at a wushu (martial arts) function, it would be different than if I hold one at a political event."
  • In November 2006, Hishammuddin Hussein vowed not to repeat the keris wielding incident but would instead bring a cangkul (garden hoe) to the 2008 General Assembly.[6] After the Barisan Nasional coalition (of which UMNO is the dominant party) lost its traditional two-thirds majority in parliament in the 12th general election held in March 2008, he apologized on 25 April for raising the keris "if it had affected the non-Malays".[7]



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