Najib, left, will take over Umno's leadership from Abdullah in March 2009 [EPA]
Najib Abdul Razak, the Malaysian deputy prime minister, was first elected to parliament at the age of 22 and became the youngest ever deputy minister two years later.
An economist by training, Najib, 55, has held the top defence and finance portfolios during his years in government.
He is currently the finance minister and the No 2 man in Umno, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's main component party led by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the prime minister.
Najib's lineage – the son of Abdul Razak, Malaysia's second prime minister, and nephew of the third, Hussein Onn – has played a significant role in his stellar rise in politics.
His father took power following bloody racial clashes in 1969, forcing out Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first prime minister, and instituting the New Economic Policy – an affirmative action favouring ethnic Malays in business and education.
Najib's cousin, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, is Malaysia's education minister while his younger brother, Nazir Abdul Razak, runs Malaysia's second-largest lender, Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd.
The father of five has dominated news headlines in recent months, with accusations of him being involved in a sex-murder scandal over a Mongolian model, allegations which Najib has dismissed as "unfounded".
Abdul Razak Baginda, a leading political analyst and one of Najib's top aides, and two police officers, are on trial for the woman's murder.
Najib also faces allegations of having close links to Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the 23-year-old former aide to Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian opposition leader.
Saiful has accused Anwar of sodomising him early this year.
Najib has admitted to meeting Saiful but denied any conspiracy against Anwar who is fighting the sodomy charge which he says is a government ploy to prevent him from becoming prime minister.