Rosmah gave RM100,000 monthly for cybertroopers to protect her reputation
A former Special Officer to Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor today revealed in detail how the prime minister’s office (PMO) set up the First lady of Malaysia (FLOM) division specifically for her immediately after her husband was appointed prime minister in 2009.
(NST) – Datuk Rizal Mansor, who worked with Rosmah from 2009 to mid 2018, also explained why she used to be feared by civil servants and government agencies throughout the country at that time.
Most shockingly, he admitted being paid RM100,000 cash monthly by Rosmah just to manage a team of cybertroopers tasked with safeguarding her reputation.
The cybertroopers, he said, were responsible for monitoring and countering negative and critical news about Rosmah in the social media.
The 45-year old witness who was reading his evidence in Rosmah’s trial of soliciting bribes from a company to help it secure a RM1.25 billion project in Sarawak, did not hold back as he laid bare everything which happened during his tenure working for the accused.
Rizal started his 46-page witness statement by stating that he was a Business Management graduate from the Multimedia Universiti and had worked as a press secretary to two former ministers before joining TV3 as a senior corporate communications executive.
He eventually ended up as Rosmah’s Special Officer after Najib was appointed as prime minister in 2009 and the FLOM division was set up the same year.
Rizal said his main tasks included ensuring Rosmah got maximum media publicity for everything she did and counter negative news published about her.
He revealed that Rosmah instructed him to form a team of cybertroopers in 2012 to deflect and counter negative news about her.
“She paid me RM100,000 cash every month to finance the operations of the cybertroopers.
“Most of the negative news involving Rosmah centred around her expensive handbags and the lavish wedding of her daughter.
“There were also stories about how she misused the government jet and how anyone who wanted to get government contracts needed to see her first,” he said.
Rosmah, he said, was also accused of being the boss who even Datuk Seri Najib Razak had to report to as she was the real Prime Minister of Malaysia then.
“All these reports eventually became a real liability to the prime minister’s image and the PMO then instructed the FLOM division to scale down publicity surrounding Rosmah in the media.”
Rizal said his relationship with Rosmah later became very close and she started trusting him with other personal and secret tasks.
This included collecting gifts and funds given to her by certain individuals, entrepreneurs and contractors.
“I ended up being rewarded with a Datukship in 2014 even though I was just a Grade N48 officer. Such title is usually reserved for officers in grade 54 and above,” he said.
Touching on Rosmah’s influence on the civil service and government agencies, he said everyone used to fear and respect the FLOM unit due to her reputation.
“Any request from FLOM was carried out without any bureaucratic hindrance.
“Officers feared being put in cold storage or transferred far away from their hometowns if they did not do what they were told,” he said as Rosmah listened intently from the dock.
Rizal, who was previously jointly charged with Rosmah, was later asked an additional question by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on whether he had cut a deal to give false evidence against the accused.
To this, Rizal said he had never been offered any such deal.
The defence team will start cross-examination of the witness on Monday.
Rosmah is on trial for soliciting RM187.5 million and two counts of receiving bribes totalling RM6.5 million from Jepak Holdings managing director Saidi Abang Samsuddin.
The bribes were allegedly received through Rizal as a reward for helping Jepak Holdings secure the RM1.25 bllion solar hybrid project for 369 schools in the interior of Sarawak.
Rosmah was accused of committing the offences between January 2016 and Sept 2017.