A former aide to Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor has revealed in court today, 9 September, that he was given RM100,000 a month to manage a team of cybertroopers
Datuk Rizal Mansor claimed that the cybertrooper team was set up in 2012 to safeguard her public reputation, reported New Straits Times.
He made the revelation in the High Court today while he 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.
Rizal worked for former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's wife from 2009 to 2018.
This team was also responsible for countering and providing explanations to every slander, assertion, and accusation towards Datin Seri Rosmah, to the public.
"The cybertroopers were operating on funds provided by Datin Seri Rosmah herself. She gave me RM100,000 cash every month to finance the team," Malay Mail quoted the 21st prosecution witness of the case as saying.
Other than protecting her public image, the 45-year-old said his responsibility also included arranging media coverage for her events so that the public could like her better and improve her image as the wife of the prime minister.
Rizal said his job made him very close with Rosmah and he eventually won her trust
As her aide, Rizal represented Rosmah to receive gifts and funds given to her by certain individuals, entrepreneurs, and contractors.
Every two years, Rizal's contract was renewed and given a new job title.
He said he had been a special officer, special functions officer, assistant special functions officer, and special division principal assistant director.
"However, my responsibilities remained that of a special officer to the prime minister's wife. At one point, this division changed its name to 'special division' but I myself often referred to it as First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM)," he told the court.
Rizal added that throughout his tenure, his salary was fully borne by the government.
He went on to list out the negative perceptions the rakyat had on Rosmah
"Most of the negative news involving Rosmah centred around her expensive handbags and the lavish wedding of her daughter," Rizal said.
"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 also said Rosmah was constantly being accused of being the real 'boss' to her husband and then-premier.
"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," he testified.
The former 'first lady' was so happy with his performance to the extent that it earned him a Datukship in 2014, he revealed
"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 (sic)," he said.
On the subject of Rosmah's influence over the civil service and government agencies, he said that people in the government used to fear and respect the FLOM unit due to her reputation.
"Any request from FLOM was carried out without any bureaucratic hindrance," he alleged while Rosmah was listening in the dock.
"Officers feared being put in cold storage or transferred far away from their hometowns if they did not do what they were told."
A study last year found that Malaysia is among 70 countries that uses cybertroopers to spread fake news: