5 things to know about Johor’s new chief minister Onn Hafiz Ghazi

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JOHOR BAHRU: Mr Onn Hafiz Ghazi was sworn in as Johor’s chief minister on Tuesday afternoon (March 15).

The 43-year-old is the 19th chief minister of the southern state, succeeding Mr Hasni Mohammad, a Benut assemblyman.

Mr Onn Hafiz, who is married with four children, will lead the next state administration after the Barisan Nasional (BN) alliance won the Johor elections last Saturday.

Here are five facts about Mr Onn Hafiz:

1. Political lineage within UMNO
Mr. Onn Hafiz is associated with key figures in the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

In Johor, UMNO is the largest component party of the ruling BN coalition. Since Malaysia’s independence, the party has also controlled the country’s politics.

Mr Onn Hafiz is the great-grandson of UMNO’s founding father, Mr Onn Jaafar.

In May 1946, the late Mr Onn, a journalist, was credited with uniting a divided Malay population in the face of British control to join UMNO.

Mr Onn Hafiz is also the grandson of Malaysia’s third prime minister, Hussein Onn, a famous statesman known as the “Father of Unity” in the country.

Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s current Senior Minister and UMNO vice president, is also the chief minister’s nephew.

When Mr Onn Hafiz was originally announced as an UMNO candidate for the 2018 general election, the New Straits Times cited him as stating, “I aim to do my best to serve the people, as did the late Datuk Onn, Tun Hussein, and Datuk Hishammuddin.”

“I intend to carry on their legacy in service to people,” he stated.

2. Former state tourism executive councillor
Prior to his appointment as chief minister, Mr Onn Hafiz served as the state’s tourism, youth and sports committee chairman between February 2020 and January 2022.

His tenure was during a challenging period for the tourism sector in Johor, which has been impacted badly by the COVID-19 pandemic and border closures with Singapore.

3. From accountant to two-term state assemblyman
Prior to being a state lawmaker, Mr Onn Hafiz was a professional accountant.

He graduated with an accountancy degree from the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. He previously attended Royal Military College in Kuala Lumpur.

He worked at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and was director at steel firm Chin Well Holdings.

4. Witness in Najib’s 1MDB Trial
In April 2019, Mr Onn Hafiz was a witness in former prime minister Najib Razak’s corruption trial, which involved millions of ringgit linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

According to local media reports, Mr Onn Hafiz testified to the Kuala Lumpur High Court that his company Vital Spire received a cheque for RM240,000 from Najib to launch the Malaysian Digest portal.

5. Leader of Youth Movement

During his tenure as the state’s tourism, youth and sports committee chairman, Mr Onn Hafiz also led youth movement group Southern Volunteers. 

The group, which local media estimated to have around 20,000 youth volunteers, was set to be folded under Johor’s state disaster management committee. 

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