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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   23 September 2013  

Malaysian PM Najib gets party nod to stay in power

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak faced down a threat to his leadership after nominations closed Saturday without anybody contesting his presidency of the ruling party, officials said.

His government suffered its worst performance ever in May elections, prompting speculation that former leader Mahathir Mohamad, who continues to be highly influential in Najib's party, would back a challenger for the presidency of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

Ahmad Maslan, UMNO information chief, said on Twitter: "Congratulations to UMNO president Najib and deputy president Muhyiddin (Yassin) who won without contest at 5pm this evening."

Najib, who will get at least another three years in the top job, said in a televised interview with CNBC Friday: "All indications are that the party is solidly behind me. They believe that the policies are indeed going to be good for the country."

The UMNO dominates the ruling coalition which has governed since the Malay Muslim-majority country gained independence in 1957.

Najib came to power in 2009 after his predecessor, under heavy pressure from Mahathir, was forced to step down following UMNO's unprecedented loss of five state governments and its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority the previous year.

Although Najib reclaimed two states this year, the government's majority in parliament was slashed further and for the first time in history as the opposition gained the popular majority of the multi-ethnic electorate.

Last week, Najib announced fresh measures to benefit the country's Muslim Malay and indigenous groups, collectively known as "bumiputra" or "sons of the soil", who make up 68 per cent of the country's 28 million people.

"If we do not bring up the economic participation of the bumiputras, the country will not be able to achieve developed nation status by 2020," Najib said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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