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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — Datuk Rizal Mansor has identified himself to the High Court today as Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s “special officer”, after his exact designation in the government was repeatedly questioned by the trial’s defence.
Prior to Rizal taking the stand as the 21st prosecution witness, Rosmah’s lawyers had repeatedly posited to prior witnesses that Rizal was never her special officer.
Testifying against Rosmah in her bribe-for-contract trial, Rizal stated that he was hired into a special department under the Prime Minister Department, dubbed the “First Lady of Malaysia” (Flom) office, when Datuk Seri Najib Razak was sworn in as the prime minister in 2009.
Having experience with the media industry, including working under Media Prima Berhad as a communications executive, Rizal stated that he was to handle media relations for Rosmah when he was attached to Flom.
While Rizal explained that his exact designation often changed during his tenure from 2009 to the middle of 2018, his responsibilities remained as special officer to Rosmah — aiding her in dealing with media relations, arranging her daily and weekly schedule, among other responsibilities.
“My contract was for two years and was renewed for two years until the middle of 2018. Within the same period the name of my designation often changed, such as special officer, special functions officer, assistant special functions officer and the title of my last designation is 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 Flom,’’ he said, adding further that his salary, during his tenure, was fully borne by the government.
Protecting Rosmah’s image
In his statement today, Rizal explained that his main responsibilities, including those at Flom, involved protecting Rosmah’s image and reputation.
This included arranging media coverage for her events as a means to boost her popularity and image as the wife of the prime minister.
Rizal also stated that Rosmah was constantly bombarded with negative perceptions, such as being the real “boss” to then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, having an interest in government projects, leading an extravagant lifestyle, among other things.
Rizal explained that in 2012, Rosmah had ordered him to had established a team of cybertroopers — individuals employed to disseminate political propaganda on the internet — who were paid RM100,000 monthly and tasked with monitoring critical content on social media.
“This team was also responsible for countering and providing explanation 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,’’ he said.
Rizal also explained that in his capacity as Rosmah’s special officer, he too had made statements to denounce or counter the negative narrative produced against her.