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Malaysia PM Najib vows 'no surrender' over 1MDB scandal
[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday vowed "no surrender" as he fends off allegations of corruption and abuse of power over a political funding scandal that has prompted calls for his removal.
"Even though there are traitors, and no matter how many times we are pushed to the ground, there shall be no retreat, no surrender," Mr Najib told more than 2,000 delegates to the United Malays National Organisation's (UMNO) annual assembly.
"No retreat! No surrender!" he repeated forcefully.
This week's annual gathering of the party which has ruled Malaysia for more than a half-century has been the most closely watched in years for signs of any revolt against Najib.
It was revealed in July that Mr Najib received nearly US$700 million in still unexplained "political donations", just as he was battling parallel allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars were missing from deals involving a state firm he launched.
Mr Najib and the company, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), both vehemently deny any wrongdoing, but opponents say Mr Najib has moved to silence critics and has abused his office to hobble investigations and stay in power.
The turmoil has raised new questions over whether UMNO - which has suffered from steadily declining support in recent years - can survive the next elections, due by 2018, with Mr Najib at the helm.
But UMNO leaders have firmly rallied around Mr Najib at this week's assembly.
"In light of the challenges, no matter how big, I will not at all surrender," Mr Najib said in his yearly address as party president.
"Instead, with a brave heart I will resolve the problems we face and continue to lead UMNO towards victory."