From Malaysia Factbook
| Razali Ismail is the first Malaysian to be appointed President of the United Nations General Assembly (1996-1997), the highest position in the international organization.
Tan Sri Dr. Razali Ismail (born 1939, age 74) was a former diplomat who rose to become the first Malaysian to be appointed President of the United Nations General Assembly (1996-1997), the highest position in the international organization. In 1998, he was appointed Special Adviser to the then Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
2. Brief biography: Born in Alor Setar, Kedah, Razali Ismail joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after graduating from Universiti Malaya with a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree in literature and the humanities in 1962. During his stint with the Ministry, he served in various capacity, including as:
In 1985, after 23 years with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Razali Ismail was appointed Deputy Secretary-General to the Ministry. After this tenure, he became increasingly involved with the United Nations. In 1989 and 1990, Razali headed the Malaysian delegation to the United Nations' Security Council and served twice as its President — in June 1989 and again in July 1990. Finally, in 1996, Razali Ismail was appointed President of the United Nations General Assembly (1996-1997), the highest position in the international organization.
For 10 years from 1988 until 1999, Razali Ismail was Malaysia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations and concurrent Ambassador to Cuba, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago. In 2000, he was appointed United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Myanmar and played a pivotal role in releasing Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in May 2002.
3. Controversies: Razali Ismail's impartiality as United Nations Special Envoy was questioned by American officials in an embassy cable that was released via Wikileaks, alleging his business ties with the Burmese military regime. Later, however, the Myanmar military junta repeatedly denied him entry to Myanmar, leading to his decision to quit the special envoy status in December 2005.