KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Senior leaders and veterans have urged members of Malaysia's powerful United Malays National Organizations (UMNO) in recent weeks not to challenge its president and incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak in the party election later this year.
UMNO Secretary General Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the party's supreme council decided that the president and deputy president posts, held by Najib and deputy Prime Minister Muhyddin Yassin respectively, should not be contested during the upcoming party election.
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who holds considerable influence within the party, has publicly voiced his support for the proposal on Monday.
Mahathir was the leading figure in forcing the stepdown of Najib's predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the 2008 election, when the ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional lost its two-third parliamentary majority.
After leading Barisan Nasional, in which UMNO is the dominant party, to a hard-fought victory in the general election last month, Najib still needs to defend his position as party president and hence the job as Prime Minister in UMNO general assembly due by the end of the year.
On the polling day on May 5, Barisan failed to improve from the previous election thanks to the poor showings of its Chinese component parties, but UMNO is widely considered a winner as it consolidated its position as the country's dominant political power by grabbing nearly 10 more seats.
Although some analysts had predicted a grim future for Najib if the Barisan failed to regain two-third parliamentary majority, many UMNO veterans and local branch leaders called for support for the current leadership after the election.
Mahathir said earlier that UNMO has no better alternative to Najib as party leader at this point.
UMNO passed an amendment to the party constitution after Najib took office, enlarging the voting bases for top party jobs while lowering the barrier for members to challenge the leaders. Najib said he was prepared for any challenges to his position in the polls.
Some central and local UMNO leaders have already voiced concerns for the "no contesting" proposal. Idris Jusoh, a supreme council member, said although it would be good for the party if there were no competitions for the two top jobs, the public would see the process as "undemocratic."