Deputy Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, who is supposed to leave for New York tonight, has made a last minute decision to cancel his trip.
Political observers say that Najib's decision is prompted by the advice given by several Supreme Council members that he should not leave the country as the Umno divisional meetings draw close.
Umno divisional meetings will kick off on Oct 9. Najib is expected to receive overwhelming nominations for the post of party President.
The cancellation of Najib's New York trip comes as Umno President Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has begun his nationwide trip to drum up sopport for him to defend his party presidency. He needs a minimum of 58 nominations to be eligible.
Abdullah has appointed several Umno "strongmen" to various important positions in a desperate attempt to gain their support. They include Perlis State Umno liaison Committee Chief Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim who was made Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on the Northern Corridor Economic Region.
More appointments are expected.
Najib's statement to the Press later today is expected to say that his new position as Finance Minister requires him to remain in the country as this moment.