Malaysian PM gears ruling party for elections due in 2018

United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party President and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, inspects a ceremonial guard of honor duri

United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party President and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, inspects a ceremonial guard of honor duri

United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party members hold the opening ceremony of its general assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Dec. 7

A member of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party takes a picture with her cellphone before the opening ceremony of the party's general ass

United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party President and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center left, greets members as he arrives for ope

United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party President and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, wearing red shirt at center left, inspects a cere

United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party President and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, third left, Deputy President and Deputy Prime Min

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has rallied for unity in his ruling party, warning ethnic Malays they will be stripped of their special privileges if the opposition wins general elections due next year.

Opening a meeting of his Malay party, Najib also poked fun at the opposition coalition led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, saying the octogenarian was in the same league as former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe who has been rejected by his own people.

Support for Najib's ruling coalition has dwindled in the last two elections. It lost the popular vote for the first time to the opposition in 2013 polls.

Najib, who is best by a financial scandal, on Thursday urged ethnic Malays to stay loyal to ensure his party wins big in the polls.