Politicians in the dominant party of the ruling coalition have begun manoeuvring for position even though elections for the top jobs are still two years away. Some members of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) are seeking to capitalise on the country's economic crisis to further their goals. 'The economy may be slowing down but the political rumour mill is working overtime,' said a veteran Malaysian analyst of UMNO affairs. Supporters of rivals of the Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, have been sowing seeds of doubt about his future, while members of Mr Anwar's camp have been presenting him as a more temperate spokesman than premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad. In turn, the premier's followers have been saying the country needs him to protect it from foreign exploitation. The machinations have taken place behind a facade of bipartisan backing for Dr Mahathir over foreign suggestions he should step down for his handling of the economic crisis. Although the media and most officials have followed the lead of Dr Mahathir in publicly portraying Malaysia as a victim of foreign 'manipulators', political power brokers have been privately blaming either Mr Anwar, who is also Finance Minister, or the Prime Minister, depending upon where their allegiance lies. Education Minister Najib Tun Razak and former trade minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah have been named as possible candidates to replace Mr Anwar as Dr Mahathir's nominated successor. Some analysts said Mahathir loyalists had suggested Mr Najib and Tengku Razaleigh to remind Mr Anwar he might face competition if he tried to push the premier aside ahead of schedule. Some political opponents of Dr Mahathir have accused him of damaging Malaysia's image and driving down the stock market and currency with his savage criticism of foreign speculators. But political analysts doubt he has suffered any significant loss of support as a result of the crisis and his stature has risen among the public for standing up to foreign intervention. An UMNO analyst said he believed the in-fighting was confined mainly to 'soldiers' in the different camps.