Najib Razak may be behind bars, but the former Malaysian prime minister will still loom large over the next battle for control in the nation’s parliament.

Najib began serving a 12-year prison sentence Tuesday, after Malaysia’s top court upheld his 2020 conviction for his role in one of the world’s largest financial scandals.

While the decision bars Najib, 69, from running again and mounting a political comeback in upcoming elections, the disgraced former premier retains widespread popularity and deep influence in the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO).