Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the Fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia on 31 October 2003. Born in Kampung Perlis on Pulau Pinang, Tun Abdullah received his early education at Bukit Mertajam High School, Penang Methodist Boys School, and a religious school started by his family. He attended the University of Malaya where he graduated with B.A.(Hons) in Islamic studies in 1964.
Tun Abdullah then joined the civil service in 1964 as Assistant Secretary in the Public Services Department. In 1969 Tun Abdullah moved to the National Operation Council (NOC) or Majlis Gerakan Negara (MAGERAN) – the body responsible for the country after the May 1969 racial riots. He was promoted to Director General of the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports (1971-1973), and Deputy Secretary General in 1974. In 1978, Tun Abdullah won his first election for the Parliamentary seat of the Kepala Batas constituency. He was elected UMNO Supreme Council Member in 1981, and UMNO Vice President in 1984, 1987, 1990 and 1996. Among other positions he served as Minister of Education from 1984 to 1986; Minister of Defence from 1986 to 1987; and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1991 until 1999. In January 1999 Tun Abdullah was appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, and he became UMNO Deputy President in 2000.