Malaysia

Najib, Muhyiddin set to continue leading Umno

September 19, 2013
Latest Update: September 20, 2013 12:43 am

Najib addressing the law conference today. The prime minister said he will defend his post as Umno chief in the upcoming party polls. The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, September 19, 2013.Najib addressing the law conference today. The prime minister said he will defend his post as Umno chief in the upcoming party polls. The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, September 19, 2013.

The country's open secret is finally confirmed. Both Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will defend their party posts and most likely continue as Umno president and deputy president respectively.

There are no challengers expected against both of them as most Umno leaders have called for a status quo despite the ruling coalition's poor performance in Election 2013.

Although Umno gained nine more federal seats in the May 5 general election, the coalition only won 133 seats, down seven from Election 2008.

"Based on feedback and views from all levels in the party, I humbly accept and am offering myself to defend the presidency," Najib said after attending a law conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

There was intense speculation that veteran leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is planning to challenge Najib, although the former has remained non-committal about contesting to date.

The son of Malaysia's second prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak, Najib took over the Malay party's top job from his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2009, who stepped down due to Barisan Nasional's dismal performance in the 2008 general election.

Muhyiddin too announced today he will defend his post, bringing to an end months of speculation that he would challenge Najib.

Muhyiddin was also quick to pledge his support to Najib.

“I will myself nominate Najib this September 21,” he told a press conference at his residence today.

“If I were given the trust once again... I will help the leadership of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak."

Najib said he was very thankful and touched by the support given to him to defend his seat.

"With the mandate given, hopefully we can all work together to strengthen the party," he said.

However, Najib refused to be drawn on his next move in case of a challenge, telling reporters to wait until nominations closed this Saturday evening.

He also refused to be drawn on who he wanted on his team, quipping that he is the "captain of an Umno team".

While maintaining that he is a great advocate of continuity and stability, Najib nonetheless acknowledged that change is needed for the party to remain relevant.

"The question is on the degree of change, " he said.

Asked whether Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who is expected to contest one of the three vice-president positions, had met him, Najib said he met a lot of people daily. – September 19, 2013.