KUALA LUMPUR : Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was often approached by entrepreneurs and contractors seeking her help to secure government contracts, Datuk Rizal Mansor told the High Court today.
Testifying against Rosmah in her corruption trial, Rizal stated that he had personal knowledge of contractors and entrepreneurs giving the wife of former prime minister Datuk Najib Razak gifts for helping them to secure government contracts.null
Rizal had earlier told the court that among the confidential tasks he was entrusted with by Rosmah as her special officer was the collection of funds or contributions that individuals wished to give to her.
“As the wife of the prime minister, there are many parties that wished to see her. Most of them were entrepreneurs and contractors that wanted to lobby for government contracts. They would meet her to build a good relationship, and subsequently, hoped that she would help convince Datuk Seri Najib to provide them with the opportunity to secure Malaysian government contracts.
“To my knowledge, there are several entrepreneurs or contractors that successfully secured government projects after they were helped by Datin Seri Rosmah.null
“Usually, these entrepreneurs or contractors would give gifts to her as a sign of appreciation for having helped them. These gifts included cash,” he said.
Rizal stated that he often received gifts from contractors or entrepreneurs on behalf of Rosmah on the perceived basis that the gift or contribution was a “political donation”.
“After gaining Datin Seri Rosmah’s trust, I was tasked with receiving the gifts on her behalf including cash that was meant for her from entrepreneurs or contractors. As all the gifts were given on the grounds of ‘political contributions’, I never thought it would be an offence for me to accept them on her behalf,” he said.
Civil servants’ fear of Rosmah
Rizal also testified that as the prime minister’s wife, Rosmah had a “huge” influence over members of the civil service.
He stated that public servants were often reluctant to turn down requests from Rosmah or the First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM) division, a special section under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Government officers would often try to win Rosmah’s approval by acceding to her requests, Rizal added.
“From my experience working with the civil service, I found Datin Seri Rosmah had a significant influence over them due to several factors. The main factor was the fear that the civil service had of Datin Seri Rosmah, who was seen as the wife of the prime minister, and someone who is fierce and can influence the actions and decisions of the prime minister.
“From the viewpoint of civil servants, Datin Seri Rosmah is capable of influencing the prime minister to transfer government officers who had refused or fought against her requests to a less important position of or, what they say in the civil service, a ‘cold storage’ position,” he said.
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.null
“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.
BY : DANIAL DZULKIFLY – MALAY MAIL