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Sensitive time for Umno and Muhyiddin too

Many in Umno are prepared to give Malaysian Premier Najib Razak the benefit of the doubt, even though they are unsure what to make of it.

Datuk Seri Najib has a lot of support in his party and up until the recent allegations, he was said to have won over some 75 per cent of the 191 Umno division heads.

They want to rally around him but they need clear answers in order to defend him.

Mr Najib has made it very clear that he intends to sue The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and his lawyers are preparing a case to be filed soon against Dow Jones, the publisher of WSJ, in the United States. That is the way to go to clear his name.

Mr Najib's deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has added to the pressure.

He had asked the authorities to look into the WSJ allegations and Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal has joined in.

Their move confirms the political divide in the party that the Umno crowd has been talking about.

Umno politicians also noticed that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been rather restrained after months of relentless attacks and it could mean two things. One, he feels that he has achieved his desired objective - he has got Mr Najib up against the wall. Two, Dr Mahathir might have realised that in his determination to remove the head of the house, the entire house may come down too.

This is a very sensitive time for Umno and especially for Mr Muhyiddin. He played a leading role in Tun Abdullah Badawi's exit and he is again in the spotlight.

It is doubly sensitive for Mr Muhyiddin this time around because he is an interested party.

Mr Muhyiddin is being extra cautious because he understands the powers of incumbency.

Moreover, Mr Najib's tentacles in the party go back a long way and whoever wants to take him on has to consider the repercussions from his hardcore supporters.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2015, with the headline ''. Print Edition | Subscribe