Losing Faith

In 1984, I co-wrote a story about Malaysia's young politicians to watch, among them Najib Razak, then the 30-year-old head of government of his home state, Pahang. When I interviewed Najib in a hotel suite in the federal capital, Kuala Lumpur, he was urbane, confident and relaxed enough to be smoking a midday cigar. At the time Malaysia was a sleepy, mainly agriculture-based economy just in its second decade of industrialization. I remember thinking that the British-educated Najib — a political blue blood (his father, a Lincoln's Inn barrister, was a former Prime Minister) from the heartland — could...

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