KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin were returned unopposed as Umno president and deputy president, but the rest of the race for party posts is crowded, with a number of surprise entries on nomination day.
A total of 261 candidates filed their papers for 30 seats in Umno and 77 in the Youth, Wanita and Puteri wings at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.
The packed field is partly due to the revamped party election regulations, which eased entry requirements for aspirants and increased the number of voters from 2,500 to 146,000.
Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said after nominations closed at 5pm: "The uncontested wins for the top two positions are good for Umno as they show that the party is mature, strong and undivided.
"The victories give the top leadership the mandate to continue helming Umno and the country."
All eyes will now be focused on the many keen contests expected in the polling on Oct 19 for the supreme council, and Oct 12 for the Umno Youth, Wanita and Puteri wings.
The highlight will be the race for the three vice-president posts that will see the incumbents facing three challengers, including Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, son of the fourth Prime Minister.
Former Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad are the two others challenging Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.
Mukhriz was swarmed by supporters and the media when he arrived at the nomination centre at 2.50pm.
Ali Rustam caused a stir when he arrived about an hour later to submit his papers because of rumours that he had decided at the 11th hour not to contest.