The origins of Najib’s ‘Bossku’ phenomenon explained in 1MDB trial?

Noorhaina Hirawani Mohd Noor, former CEO of Orb Solutions Sdn Bhd, is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex August 28, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Noorhaina Hirawani Mohd Noor, former CEO of Orb Solutions Sdn Bhd, is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex August 28, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — A former public relations consultant to Datuk Seri Najib Razak has suggested that the current “Bossku” campaign employed by the ex-prime minister could have its roots in his experience in digital media, including handling crises like the twin Malaysia Airlines disasters.

Noorhaina Hirawani Mohd Noor said she was the press secretary for digital media at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) from August 2013 to October 2014 and has lent her expertise on the aviation disasters of Flights MH370 and MH17.

“Although I had no hand in the ‘Bossku’ campaign, I could surmise that if events in the previous years related to all social media communications that we have already done, whether it was post-Budget Google Hangouts or all of the crisis communications related to MH17 and MH370, perhaps the openness to this approach would not have been so perhaps then I would have assumed that Datuk Seri Najib would not have been so open to this current campaign,” the fourth prosecution witness testified in the High Court at the Pekan MP’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial today.

“Perhaps there is a correlation,’’ she added.

Noorhaina was responding to a cross-examination by the Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah who had asked whether her past work with Najib had allowed the former prime minister to be more open with public relations campaigns such as Bossku.

Earlier, ad hoc prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram had asked Noorhaina whether she had closely worked with Najib.

Noorhaina explains that she often needs Najib’s approval for their activities, programmes as well as statements, especially those involving sensitive issues or policy-related matters.

“Let’s say for example the MH17 incident in 2014, so in order to make press statements whether online or offline, I would have to get his consent just to make sure the content of that statement or even social media posts is in the right tone. So I would go to get his thoughts on that, that’s an example.

“When it comes to MH17, MH370, because information travels fast and misinformation is rife.

Because of these tragedies and what caused them, it was important that the voice of government and head of government was in that space as well to sort of manage the narrative and to say that there’s a steady hand,’’ she said.

“Given that MH17 was an international incident, the speed was important, but the timing of it also had to be combined with other factors of communications (that were not put out including in digital sphere),’’ she added.

Noorhaina was also the former co-director of Orb Solutions Sdn Bhd, a company that was formed post the 2008 general elections to help manage public relations campaigns for Najib then.

Najib’s special officer then, Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, was also the co-director of Orb Solutions.

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