Malaysian PM Najib to defend ruling party presidency post

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak announced Thursday he will defend his presidency post during the ruling party's October election.

The United Malays National Organization, the dominant party in the 13-party National Front ruling coalition, is scheduled to hold its triennial election on Oct. 19.

"Based on the feedback that I received, the state UMNO liaison bodies have made a resolution that I should continue to lead the party as UMNO president. In addition to the opinions and views voiced at the meetings of UMNO branches, a majority of the UMNO members want me to continue to lead the party as UMNO president," Najib said at a press conference. "As such, with humility, I accept the support and offer myself to defend the post of party president."

UMNO is the largest party in the National Front that has ruled the country since independence in 1957. The party's president and deputy president have traditionally helmed the government's top two posts.

Also Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced his decision to defend his post as UMNO deputy president.

No one else has voiced their intention to challenge either of the two, and they are expected to win uncontested.

The party election came on the heels of the bruising May general election which saw the National Front's control of the federal parliament slip to 133 seats from 140 before the poll, while the opposition won 89 seats in the 222-seat parliament.

Najib, however, can take consolation from the fact that UMNO upped its seats from 79 to 88.

Last week, to shore his support among UMNO's core supporters, Najib allocated billions of ringgits (hundreds of millions of dollars) in funds to aid the country's majority ethnic Malays and ordered government agencies and government-linked companies to allocate bigger chucks of contracts to ethnic Malay businessmen as part of the government's affirmative action policy.