Patron Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Know Thy Leader

Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia on the 31st October 2003, just before he attained the age 64. Born on 26th November 1939 in Kampung Perlis,Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang, our illustrious Alumnus Received his early education at Sekolah Kebangsaan Permatang Bertam. He later attended Bukit Mertajam High School - our Alma Mater, from where he graduated in 1957 obtaining his Cambridge Overseas School (GCE-O) Certificate. He then proceeded to Penang Methodist Boys' School for his HSC studies. He pursued his tertiary education at the University of Malaya where he graduated with B.A. (Hons) in Islamic Studies in 1964.


Upon graduating, Abdullah joined the civil service in the same year, starting his career as Assistant-Secretary in the Public Services Department. Marriage to Che Endon bte Dato Mahmood took place in 1965 and the couple are blessed with two children, a son, Kamaluddin (married to Azrene) and a daughter, Nori (married to Khairy Jamaluddin).
In 1969, Dato' Seri Abdullah moved to the National Operation Council (NOC) in the Prime Minister's Department, a body enacted to exercise the ruling powers for the country, after the May 1969 racial riots. In 1971 he was promoted to the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports, where he served as Director General (1971-1973) and Deputy Secretary General in 1974 till 1978.

The Political Journey

A loyal UMNO member since 1965, Abdullah resigned from Government service in 1978 to pursue a political career. Dato' Seri Abdullah won his first election for the Parliamentary seat of the Kepala Batas constituency in 1978 and proudly has retained his seat since then. As a party faithful with leadership qualities before long he was elected UMNO Supreme Council Member in 1981, and UMNO Vice President in 1984 and UMNO Deputy President in 1999.

Being a leader with quality he easily entered into the administration of the Government of Malaysia, and in 1978 he was made the Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Territory Ministry.

 From then on it was one milestone after another...

• 1980 - Deputy Minister in the same Ministry
• 1981 to 1984 - Minister in the Prime Minister's Department 
• 1984 to 1986 - Minister of Education
• 1986 to 1987 - Minister of Defence
• 1991 to January 1999 - Minister of Foreign Affairs
• January 1999 - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs
• 2002 - 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia
• 21st March 2004, as Prime Minister, he led the Barisan Nasional to a landslide victory at the    National Elections. 


In the early days....

Abdullah is the eldest of four children (siblings Aminah, Ibrahim and Mohd Tahir) to prominent religious and political leader Datuk Ahmad Badawi Abdullah Fahim and his wife Datuk Kailan Hassan. His paternal grandfather was an illustrious religious scholar or ulama Abdullah Fahim Ibrahim and Pak Lah is said to take after him in gait and speech mannerisms. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had his early education at Sekolah Kebangsaan Permatang Bertam until Standard Four and subsequently pursued his  studies  at  a  Special
Malay School which was established by the British Government for Malay students who excelled in their primary school studies.

His early years saw Abdullah often at the local religious school started by his family, which also doubled up as a madrasah for religious lessons and discourses. His parents, grandfather were highly respected leaders in the community and   early  in  life   inculcated  in  him  Islamic  scholarship,
honesty, restraint, tolerance, integrity and humility. In the early 1950 it is to the credit of Abdullah's parents that such values were prioritised, and they had the foresight to see their importance in social justice and harmony in a multi-cultural Malaysian society.
To the young Abdullah the full impact of these values came to the fore, when he was enrolled as a non-border in the Special Malay Class (SMC) at the “High School Bukit Mertajam”. The basic idea of the Education authorities in introducing this SMC scheme was to allow (Malay) students who had done their primary foundation studies  in  Malay  to be able to read, write and speak the

English language. With varying degree of adaptability most succeeded the transition into the English stream within a two-year period. Malay students, like Abdullah, found themselves learning, playing and competing with the children of different races - forging new friendships, new ideals and camaraderie. In the school environment English was the preferred spoken and written language those days, although Bahasa Melayu, Chinese and Tamil were also taught as vernacular languages.

At our alma mater, HSBM, the young Abdullah's patience and mild manners endeared him to teachers and school mates. They also noticed determination and a sense of independence matched his keenness in teamwork and lessons in leadership. His command of oral and written English was said to be very good.

Abdullah joined the school's Scout Movement and as a many before him learned what it was to be obedient, honest and trustworthy; humble and polite; hardworking, keen and observant! Scouting activities greatly interested young Abdullah and as a Scout, he rose to be a Patrol Leader and helped the School win and retain the Penang Scouts Field Challenge Trophy for three years 1954-1956.

After school, back in the Kampong, the young Abdullah was very much in his element doing his bit in local activities. School books, homework and religious studies were very much part of Pak Lah's routine years and challenges as a teenage schoolboy.

These experiences in and outside the classrooms have left an indelible mark on Pak Lah and he often extols these values in his many speeches to youth forums in and around the country.

According to a classmate Rethinasamy, Maths was a challenge and Long Heng Hua proved to be an inspiration to the boys in Maths and English. Rethinasamy credits him for improving their command of the English language. Many years after they had left school, Long their teacher, continued to visit Pak Lah's home at Hari Raya.

The young Abdullah spent many hours reading - pouring over books, and he had a special interest in Middle-eastern history. “He enjoyed discussing history, particularly about the first Egyptian president, Gamal Abdul Al Nasser,”

Conspicuously missing in school life was the topic of girls. “Ah, they were not of a special interest to us then. I can’t recall Pak Lah ever talking about girls,' said Rethinasamy.

Pak Lah's sense of humor is a quality that endears him to others. Poor Abdullah was constantly picked on by Manap Abdullah, who would hide the former's books ever so often, according to Rethinasamy. One day as the two friends walked to the bus stop, Abdullah realised that his school bag was a little heavier than usual. A quick inspection revealed a brick, no doubt the work of mischievous Manap. Did he get mad? No way, he just laughed it off and called Manap a rascal!

Most of the time, as a Scout Pak Lah ended up being the 'slaughterman' because he was the only one who was not afraid to slaughter chickens during the camping trips, and according to his late mother, “Abdullah was also good at cooking during those outings and he could make a simple bread using the bunga kantan stalk as skewer like satay!”

With his close buddy, the late Fatah Abdullah whom he fondly called Naman, he would go to the nearby villages to buy mangosteens, which they would then sell at Pekan Kepala Batas. More often than not, both boys would come home earlier than they had expected - with their 'profits as well - because either Abdullah's grandfather, or Fatah's grandfather, Haji Saad, would buy all the fruits from them. Both grandfathers thought the kids ought to be spending more time at home doing schoolwork! - Mum Datuk Kailan.

On Abdullah's favourite food, Datuk Kailan said her son was not a picky eater but he loved udang goreng asam and anything sweet, like pulut seri muka, kuih talam, dadih (sweet yogurt) and kuih gedong chak ( a traditional kuih made of glutinous rice mixed with brown sugar, wrapped in daun nipah or palm leaves and grilled).


President’s Office and Secretariat
No. 24, Jalan Teh Hung Kiat (12/13),
46200 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor D. E. Malaysia.
Tel: 603-79542269
Fax: 603-79542321

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This website is organized and maintained by the HSBM Alumni Malaysia headquartered in Kuala Lumpur. We hope that you'll find useful information about the Alumni, and at the same time feel a sense of nostalgia as you browse through its pages.


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