EXCLUSIVE to RPK/Malaysia Today – Confessions of a PH cybertrooper

Dear editor,

Sometime in late November last year, I was approached by an aide to a Minister to provide “digital persuasion and social media engagement” services. The term is an euphemism for being a “cybertrooper”.

Together with my partners, all of whom are familiar with the digital and traditional media landscape, and stay on top of current affairs, we agreed. Back then, Pakatan Harapan was under heavy fire and some of the good deeds of the government were being misrepresented by the still well-funded BN online activists. Me and my partners were idealistic in wanting to turn things around for PH.

We commenced work in February after some negotiations, only with a verbal promise of the terms. Things went smoothly at first as there was a lull during the Chinese New Year period. But as public unease with the PH government grew, so did the attacks on the Minister.

But instead of raising the budget for greater efficiency in countering the lies and misinformation, we were instructed to “bully” those who trolled PH leaders. These included name-calling or even using racial slurs – all trademarks of Umno, which the PH leaders had publicly stood against in the past. What a hypocrite!

The skullduggery did not end there. We were told to dig up the “dirt” of top BN leaders including a former Umno Minister, especially with regards to his alleged affair with a starlet and search for compromising photos of the ex-Minister’s purportedly “care-free” days. All this because the former Minister had sniped at the current Cabinet member.

The Minister also did not hesitate in using our services for “friendly fire”. Through his aide, he once asked us to vilify an ADUN under his own Parliamentary constituency, although the assemblyman is from the same party as him. This was done because the ADUN was from a different faction in the party from him.

Worst of all, despite all the effort we put in, we had only been paid about 20% of what was promised. Our persistent reminders often end up with “Wait… the money is coming.” In the mean time, we are chalking up huge debts as we had to pay our staff and line the pockets of sensitive sources involved in this complex, clandestine operations. We still owe some of these people money, and they are threatening to file legal suits, which means we’d have to spill everything in the open during the court date.

We regret having taken up this job. While this was partly attributed to the monetary losses, we are more let down that PH has descended into another BN-Umno in the making (if they are not already). But because PH had taken the moral high ground, for it to degenerate in such a fashion, has made the current government an even greater hypocrite!

Samuel Davidson