KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s former special officer has today revealed to the High Court that bloggers like Papagomo, Parpukari and The Unspinners were paid up to RM5,000 monthly to manage the former’s reputation and image from 2012 to 2018.
Datuk Rizal Mansor said the trio were just part of a long list of bloggers, Facebook users and individuals paid between RM1,500 and RM5,000 monthly from the RM100,000 cash he received from Rosmah monthly.
“The amount I paid to all of them varied...I gave Facebookers between RM1,500 to RM2,000 while bloggers were paid RM3,000.
“I gave the team leaders like Papagomo RM5,000 monthly,” he was quoted telling the court by New Straits Times.
Noting his willingness to provide the list of all those who received the payment to court, he said there were about 12 to 15 bloggers, 30 Facebook users and four team leaders who received the payment monthly.
Rizal said this under questioning by Rosmah’s lead defence lawyer Datuk Jagjit Singh, who wanted him to reveal all those who received payments for being part of Rosmah’s cybertroopers.
When posed with a question regarding the source of the funds, Rizal said he was unaware that the RM100,000 given to him monthly by Rosmah to manage the cybertroopers was actually from a portion of the Prime Minister’s Department’s budget.
According to Rizal, all he knew was that the cash was handed to him directly by Rosmah every month.
“I cannot confirm the source of the funds. All I can tell you is that I got the cash directly from her hands every month,” he said.
When asked if he had any receipts to prove that payments were made to the cybertroopers, Rizal said there was no need for it.
Jagjit then asserted that Rizal did not have any record of the payments as the latter pocketed most of the money himself.
The lawyer then proceeded to read out the names of several pro-Rosmah bloggers who claimed that they did not receive anything from Rizal even though they were part of the cybertrooper team.
Rizal, however, disagreed with the suggestion and said some of the names read out by Jagjit were not part of his list of bloggers, indicating that the others had all been paid.
Jagjit: Do you have any receipts of the payments made?
Rizal: No. there was no need for it.
Jagjit: There are many who claim that they were not paid. You took a large portion of it for your own personal use.
Rizal: I disagree.
Jagjit: I put it to you there would have been no need for the team of cybertroopers if you had done your job well.
Rizal: That is subjective.
Rizal taking the stand as the 21st prosecution witness had earlier this week revealed that he used to receive RM100,000 monthly from Rosmah to manage a team of cybertroopers when he handled media relations for Rosmah.
Rizal reportedly explained that in 2012, Rosmah had ordered him to establish 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.
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.
In his earlier statements, 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.
In this trial, Rosmah is accused of soliciting RM187.5 million in bribes from Saidi, of accepting a RM1.5 million bribe directly from him and a separate RM5 million bribe via Rizal, in exchange for helping Jepak Holdings win a RM1.25 billion solar energy project from the Education Ministry.
Rizal was previously charged with allegedly helping Rosmah ask for a RM187.5 million bribe from Saidi and for allegedly seeking a smaller sum of RM25 million for himself, and also with allegedly receiving a RM5 million bribe from Saidi on behalf of Rosmah and for allegedly receiving a RM500,000 bribe from Saidi for himself.
Rizal had been scheduled to be jointly tried with Rosmah, but the prosecution withdrew the charges against him in January, before the start of the trial.