Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Dato' Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob (Jawi: اسماعيل صبري بن يعقوب; born 18 January 1960) is a Malaysian politician serving as Leader of the Opposition since 2019, and has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Bera since 2004.[1] He is a member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), a major party in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob

اسماعيل صبري بن يعقوب
12th Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
11 March 2019
Prime MinisterMahathir Mohamad
Preceded byAhmad Zahid Hamidi
Deputy President of the
United Malays National Organisation
Assumed office
11 March 2019
PresidentMohamad Hasan (Acting)
Preceded byMohamad Hasan
Minister of Rural and Regional Development
In office
29 July 2015  10 May 2018
Prime MinisterNajib Razak
DeputyAhmad Jazlan Yaakub
Preceded byShafie Apdal
Succeeded byRina Harun
Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry
In office
16 May 2013  29 July 2015
Prime MinisterNajib Razak
DeputyTajuddin Abdul Rahman
Preceded byNoh Omar
Succeeded byAhmad Shabery Cheek
Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism
In office
10 April 2009  5 May 2013
Prime MinisterNajib Razak
DeputyTan Lian Hoe
Rohani Abdul Karim
Preceded byShahrir Samad
Succeeded byHasan Malek
Minister of Youth and Sports
In office
18 March 2008  9 April 2009
Prime MinisterAbdullah Ahmad Badawi
DeputyWee Jeck Seng
Preceded byAzalina Othman
Succeeded byAhmad Shabery Cheek
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Bera
Assumed office
Preceded byConstituency established
Majority4,982 (2004)
4,313 (2008)
2,143 (2013)
2,311 (2018)
Personal details
Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob

(1960-01-18) 18 January 1960
Temerloh, Pahang, Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia)
Political partyUnited Malays National Organisation (UMNO)
Other political
Barisan Nasional (BN)
Spouse(s)Muhaini Zainal Abidin
Alma materUniversity of Malaya


He married Datin Muhaini Zainal Abidin in 1986. His son Gadaffi Ismail Sabri or popularly Dafi was a former student of Akademi Fantasia Season 5, an entertainment reality show that is now a singer.[2]


Ismail Sabri started his schooling at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bangau in 1967. He then continued his education at Sekolah Menengah Air Putih, Kuantan in 1973 and Sekolah Menengah Teknik Kuantan, Pahang in 1976. He then studied form six at Jaya Akademik and continued his studies at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya in 1980.


He started his career in 1985 as a lawyer. He was appointed as Member of Temerloh District Council in 1987 and Member of the Temerloh Municipal Council in 1996. In 1995, he was appointed Political Secretary to the Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism, Datuk Sabbaruddin Chik. He also was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Pahang Tenggara Board (DARA) in 1995 as well as the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board in the same year. Before entering Parliament in 2004, Ismail Sabri served as Chairman of the National Sports Complex.[3]


In 1987, he was appointed Member of the Temerloh Umno division committee. Then, in 1988, he was appointed as Temerloh UMNO Division Information Chief. In 1993, he was promoted to Head of Division Youth Movement, Deputy Head of Division (2001) and became Head of Temerloh UMNO Division in 2004.

Ismail Sabri was elected to Parliament in the 2004 election, becoming the first member of the new seat of Bera. He was re-elected in 2008 election,[4] and was appointed in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi as Minister for Youth and Sports (2008-2009).[5] In April 2009, under new Prime Minister Najib Razak he became the Minister for Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (2009-2013).[6] After the 2013 election, in which he retained his parliamentary seat, he was appointed as the Minister for Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry (2013–2015). He served as Federal Minister of Rural and Regional Development (2015-2018).

On December 20, 2018, he was appointed to carry out his duties as the new UMNO Deputy President after his incumbent was elected President (de facto) from 18 December 2018. He was appointed as the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament since 2019.


Boycott call

In 2015, Ismail Sabri sparked a firestorm of protest over his Facebook post urging Malay consumers to boycott the monopolising and profiteering Chinese businesses who discriminate non-Chinese entrepreneurs, arguing that it was necessary for Malays to exercise consumer power to prevent "profiteering" by the Malaysia's ethnic Chinese that control over 90% of Malaysian economies. In reply, political analyst Wan Saiful Wan Jan, head of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs think tank, said in personal capacity that any Malaysian voter regardless of race, would be repelled by Ismail's comments. “I think the reaction of any right-minded Malay or Chinese who believes in Malaysian unity would be of disgust. “And I think, or at least hope, that the Chinese voters will remember what he said when it comes to the vote”.[7] Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar stated that the minister would be investigated under the Sedition Act 1948 and Ismail Sabri has since deleted the Facebook post.[8]

Low Yat 2

In 2015, Ismail Sabri once again provoked controversy when he proposed to set up "Low Yat 2", a digital gadget mall expected to house solely Malay traders.[9] Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a component party of Barisan Nasional, criticised the proposal. MCA publicity bureau chairman Datuk Chai Kim Sen labelled Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob as a regressive Cabinet Minister for his proposal.[10] MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that the setting up of Low Yat 2 would only hurt racial relations, and described the proposal for the bumiputra-only mall as an “antagonistic approach”.[11] MCA public services and complaints bureau advised Ismail Sabri to approach issues from a multi-racial viewpoint and stop making ridiculous statements such as “Chinese traders are profiteers” and “a Malay-only Low Yat 2” and said that “We are appalled at Ismail Sabri’s attempt to apply his race-centric thoughts onto the issue of Chinese schools and to accuse others of being racist. His thinking is completely illogical, and this mentality of his must be discarded at once in order to become a true minister for all races”.[12] Fellow UMNO member Saifuddin Abdullah also criticised the proposal, saying that Ismail Sabri’s proposal would not be beneficial to Malays and Malaysians in general, pointing out that having business areas where traders are separated by ethnicity will only backfire.[13]

Many Malay netizens also criticised the proposal, with many mocking the concept of Low Yat 2.[14] Two Sarawak United Peoples' Party (SUPP), a Barisan Nasional component party, Youth leaders later lodged a police report Ismail Sabri, claiming his speech on ‘Low Yat Plaza 2 for Malay traders’ on Tuesday was seditious. The ministers also demanded the state authorities bar him from entering Sarawak. SUPP Youth central publicity and information secretary Milton Foo said that “He is not fit to be a minister after making several racist remarks in nature. After his ‘boycott of Chinese merchants’ remark in February, now again he did it. Obviously, he is not repentful".[15] On 8 December 2015, Ismail Sabri officiates the opening of all-Malay MARA Digital Mall at Medan Mara, Kuala Lumpur. Although the traders are all Malay, Ismail calls on the minorities to support the mall.[16]

Taylor's University sponsorship cancellation

On 16 September, Taylor's University bus service contractor Wawasan Sutera used vehicles bearing the university’s logo to ferry passengers to the 916 red shirt racial rally without its permission. Two days later, Taylor's University announced that they would terminate the contract with Wawasan Sutera. Subsequently, Ismail Sabri announced that Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) would terminate the sponsorship for the next intake of students to Taylor’s University, in what was seen as a tit for tat exchange. He did not name the reasons behind the revocation. Social media was abuzz when a screenshot of a statement allegedly made by him went viral, ordering the Mara director-general to terminate the sponsorship of its students with immediate effect.[17]

Democratic Action Party (DAP) MP Teresa Kok criticised the decision, calling it a "personal vendetta and abuse of power", and called for the cabinet to censure Ismail Sabri, as well as challenging him to publicly reveal the reasons for the decision, as well as publish the internal report which led to the decision.[18] MCA Publicity Bureau Chairman Senator Chai Kim Sen said the minister’s inability to state even one reason for this decision was not only “unbecoming” but “even childish”. Saying that Ismail Sabri was infamous for his racist remarks when he called for the boycott of Chinese businesses, MCA’s Chai said his latest announcement about Mara would only “further weaken his already-tarred reputation as a racist”. He further condemned the minister for working against the government’s aspirations of producing 160,000 foreign students by 2020 and added, “Education institutes are expected to remain apolitical.[18]

Turtle eggs issue

On 4 November 2015, a photograph of Ismail Sabri having dinner at a seafood restaurant in Sandakan together with Beluran Umno chief Datuk James Ratib went viral. A plate of a dozen of turtle eggs on the dinner table was seen in the photo.[19] Ismail denied consuming the turtle eggs, citing "health reasons". On 9 November 2015, Ismail claims that he was not aware of the law that prohibits the possession and consumption of turtle eggs in Sabah, which is one of the protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.[19][20] On 19 November 2015, another photos surfaced and went viral on Facebook showing fragments of turtle eggshells on the table in front of some of the diners.[21] Following the issues, various non-governmental organisation (NGOs) and research organisation of Sabah urge Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) to take action against the guests of the dinner as well as the restaurant that served the eggs.[22] According to Ismail Sabri, he has directed his lawyers to take legal actions against parties who accused him of consuming the turtle eggs,[21] of which three of the lawsuits were directed to Daily Express newspaper for publishing three allegation articles on him consuming protected turtle eggs which he claimed "the articles suggested he was evading responsibility, had no respect for the Wildlife Conservation Enactment and showed disregard towards the investigation process".[23][24][25] His judicial review bid were however dismissed by the high court in Sabah with Judge Ravinthran Paramaguru said the case had been filed in the High Court of Malaya and the jurisdiction of the Kota Kinabalu High Court was limited to cases registered in the state,[25][26] while the recent decision to transfer the lawsuits to Kuala Lumpur court were seen as against the Malaysia Agreement where Malayan Court had no power to transfer the case under their court authority as enshrined under Article 145(3A) of the Federal Constitution to determine "which court a case shall be transferred must necessarily be subject to the limitation that it can only transfer a case to a court which has the jurisdiction to hear the case".[27] DAP leader Lim Kit Siang also agree the case should only be heard in Sabah court rather than need to be transferred to Kuala Lumpur.[28] On 6 September, the suit was dropped by Ismail without need to go through trial after the matter have been resolved amicablly through a case management between him and the newspaper.[29]

Vaping industry

On 9 November 2015, Ismail Sabri stated that he supports the vaping industry in Malaysia. He says that the Malay-dominated industry is a success story for bumiputera entrepreneurism despite health warnings by the Malaysian Health Ministry.[30] He has gone further in hoping that the unregulated industry can expand globally.[31] Many prominent doctors and physicians have publicly chided Ismail Sabri's support for the industry,[32] including the Sultan of Johor Ibrahim Ismail, who publicly decreed that all vape outlets must be shut down by 1 January 2016.[33]

2018 pre-general election comment

On 13 April 2018, Ismail Sabri again provoked a controversy when he said "Every vote for the DAP is akin to giving power to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) pact to eliminate the purported Malay “special rights” and the “uniqueness” of Islam" as was reported by the Malay language-newspaper Utusan Malaysia.[34] This was subsequently responded by Kit Siang, who said that Ismail Sabri seemed "to be attempting to frame the coming general election as a battle between the Malays and Chinese as well as between Islam and its enemies",[35] and asked if Ismail Sabri and the UMNO-owned newspaper of Utusan Malaysia would be charged under the government's recently passed "Anti-Fake News Act 2018" for the provocative comments.[35] Kit Siang also explained that Pakatan Harapan's basic documents, including its election manifesto, had been clear and specific in giving unconditional support to Article 153 on Malay special rights and Article 3 on Islam as the official religion of the Federation,[35] also saying that although the DAP or other races party managed to form a new government in the country if winning the election, the Malays will never perish since the overwhelming majority of Malaysian voters are still Malays and the overwhelming majority of parliamentary and state assembly constituencies in the country are Malay voter-majority constituencies.[36]

Election results

Parliament of Malaysia: P90 Bera, Pahang[4][37][38][39]
Year Government Votes Pct Opposition Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
2004 Ismail Sabri Yaakob (UMNO) 16,714 53.75% Abd Wahab Ismail (PAS) 12,244 39.37% 31,096 4,982 76.53%
2008 Ismail Sabri Yaakob (UMNO) 18,051 54.50% Mazlan Aliman (PAS) 14,230 42.96% 33,123 4,313 77.04%
2013 Ismail Sabri Yaakob (UMNO) 21,669 50.46% Zakaria Abdul Hamid (PKR) 19,526 45.47% 42,944 2,143 84.21%
Mohd Wali Ahmad (IND) 670 1.56%
2018 Ismail Sabri Yaakob (UMNO) 20,760 43.89% Zakaria Abdul Hamid (PKR) 18,449 39.00% 48,339 2,311 82.33%
Musaniff Ab Rahman (PAS) 8,096 17.11%


See also


  1. "Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob, Y.B. Dato' Sri" (in Malay). Parliament of Malaysia. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  2. Aida Ahman (20 March 2011). "Meet Gadaffi the singer". The Star. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  3. S. Selvam (6 July 2003). "NSC: We are not biased". New Straits Times. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  4. "Malaysia Decides 2008 (including 2004 results)". The Star. Archived from the original on 11 January 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  5. "New ministers: PM's reminder a timely one". The Star. 21 March 2008. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  6. "New Cabinet Line-up Meets People's Expectations". Bernama. 9 April 2009. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2010. (subscription required)
  7. Anisah Shukry (5 February 2015). "Ismail Sabri's future in Bera shaky, say analysts after boycott call". The Malaysian Insider. Archived from the original on 5 February 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  8. Haikal Jalil; Nabilah Hamudin (2 February 2015). "Police to quiz Ismail Sabri over boycott call". The Sun. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  9. "Ismail Sabri proposes to open Low Yat 2 at MARA building". Astro Awani. 11 August 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  10. D. Kanyakumari (12 August 2015). "MCA takes Ismail Sabri to task over Low Yat 2 proposal". The Star. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  11. "MCA: Low Yat 2 plan will hurt racial ties". The Star. 15 August 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  12. T. Avineshwaran (14 August 2015). "Stop making 'ridiculous' statements, MCA tells Ismail Sabri". The Star. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  13. Ida Lim (13 August 2015). "Minister's 'Low Yat 2' for Malays will deepen 'idiotic bigotry' in country, BN leaders says". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  14. Calvin Loo (14 August 2015). ""How About A Malaysia 2?", And Other Netizens' Responses To "Malays Only" Low Yat 2". Vulcan Post. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  15. "SUPP: Bar Ismail Sabri from entering S'wak". Malaysiakini. 14 August 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  16. Syed Jaymal Zahiid; Hasbullah Awang Chik (8 December 2015). "At 'Low Yat 2' opening, Ismail Sabri calls on minorities to support all-Malay IT mall". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  17. Rahmah Ghazali (21 September 2015). "Ismail Sabri: Mara to terminate sponsorship for Taylor's University students". The Star. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  18. "Minister vilified by MCA, DAP for decision on Taylor's". Free Malaysia Today. 22 September 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  19. Dina Murad (4 November 2015). "Ismail Sabri: I didn't eat turtle eggs, I only ate fish". The Star. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  20. Julia Chan (10 November 2015). "Ismail Sabri: I honestly didn't know there were laws against turtle eggs". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  21. Hasbullah Awang Chik (19 November 2015). "Ismail Sabri says wouldn't eat eggs with a fork, to sue over claims". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  22. Stephanie Lee (19 November 2015). "Groups urge action over turtle eggs issue". The Star. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  23. "Ismail Sabri sues Sabah paper for RM10m over turtle egg case". The Malay Mail. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  24. Jo Ann Mool (3 January 2018). "Umno turtle eggs case: Leave bid on Jan. 29". Daily Express. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  25. Avila Geraldine (1 March 2018). "High Court rejects review application for defamation suit against newspaper to be heard in Sabah [NSTTV]". New Straits Times. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  26. "Court dismisses judicial review bid in Daily Express suit against minister". Bernama. Malaysiakini. 1 March 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  27. "Appeal Court was wrong: JPs Council". Daily Express. 11 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  28. David Thien (10 April 2018). "Minister should seek justice in Sabah, not KL: Kit Siang". Daily Express. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  29. V Anbagalan (6 September 2018). "Ex-minister's suit against Sabah publisher settled out of court". Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  30. Rahmah Ghazali (10 November 2015). "Ismail Sabri: New vape move will kill Malay-dominated industry". The Star. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  31. Akil Yunos (9 November 2015). "Ismail Sabri expects no vape ban, wants business to expand worldwide". The Star. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  32. Fatimah Zaharah Rosli (11 November 2015). "Vaping: "I beg to differ," doctor tells Ismail Sabri". Astro Awani. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  33. "Sultan of Johor orders all vape outlets in the state to close shop by Jan 1". The Straits Times. 29 November 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  34. "Ismail Sabri: Malay 'special rights' and Islam in jeopardy if vote given to DAP". The Malay Mail. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  35. "Kit Siang hurls 'turtle egg' at Ismail Sabri over 'fake news'". Malaysiakini. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  36. "Malays will never perish even if Umno loses, assures DAP leader". The Malay Mail. Today Online. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  37. "Keputusan Pilihan Raya Umum Parlimen/Dewan Undangan Negeri" (in Malay). Election Commission of Malaysia. Archived from the original on 6 September 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2017. Percentage figures based on total turnout.
  38. "Malaysia General Election". undiinfo Malaysian Election Data. Malaysiakini. Retrieved 4 February 2017. Results only available from the 2004 election.
  39. "KEPUTUSAN PILIHAN RAYA UMUM 13". Sistem Pengurusan Maklumat Pilihan Raya Umum (in Malay). Election Commission of Malaysia. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  40. "83 Datuks in Malacca list". Lee Yuk Peng. The Star. 9 October 2004. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  41. "Sultan of Pahang's 75th birthday honours list". The Star. 26 October 2005. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  42. "David Arumugam, Khadijah Ibrahim now Datuks". Bernama. The Star. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
Political offices
Preceded by
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
Leader of the Opposition
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