KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia's Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob is expected to lead his political party's campaign in the next general election, which is widely expected to be called by year-end. Though he began his premiership last August with a clean slate, the dark history of the defunct state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) -- at the heart of one of the world's largest corruption scandals -- could still haunt his bid.
Ismail Sabri, currently third in line in the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO), would be the country's first leader to pursue an election without being the party's president. His rise marked UMNO's return to power after the historic defeat of a coalition led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Now UMNO, the party that has led the country for all but a few years since independence in 1957, is keen to cement itself as the ruling party amid swirling graft allegations.