Rosmah’s media aide Rizal a poor writer who was rarely in the office

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Rizal was promoted twice and his contract renewed six times.

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s former aide Datuk Rizal Mansor had been missing work, not coming to office regularly and was a poor writer, the High Court was told today.

Rizal, accused of abusing his power for monetary gains and is being accused of operating outside the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of which he was merely a media relations officer, was said to have been operating from a separate location in Kuala Lumpur and often missing from work in Putrajaya where he had an office to himself.

Today’s witness, a former officer in the PMO, Datuk Seri Siti Azizah Sheikh Abod, said she had found Rizal lacking in the writing department and said on several occasions he had gone outside his scope of duties and operated behind her back.

“Rizal sometimes did a disappearing act and was missing from work,” said Azizah.

“He had been operating from Kuala Lumpur, rarely came into office and his writing was poor. His duties were only to manage the media and that was it,” she said.

However, records showed that Rizal was still gainfully hired by the PMO and also had his salary raised several times in that period.

Leading the prosecution team, Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said Rizal was first hired from 2009-2011 at Grade N44. It was then extended two years from April 1, 2011, until April 30, 2013, then re-extended for two more months until June 30, 2013.

During this time his salary was moved from N44 to N48. Then it was further extended until June 2016 under renewed contracts of service. Around this time his salary package was increased again from N48 to N52 and he was conferred a Datukship.

Sri Ram: I’d like to ask you who’ve been in public service for many years. Can you confirm to his Lordship that a person’s salary will be upgraded if his work is good?

Azizah: In the system after a certain number of years your salary will be automatically increased. Rizal was here for four years so it was increased to a higher grade.

Sri Ram: So, would they increase the salary of a person who is not a good worker? Say will they increase the salary of a useless person in service?

Azizah: I disagree he was useless. My staff have many portfolios. Rizal improved relations with the media but as far as writing goes, he wasn’t good. I felt writing is an art form. He told me he was very busy and travelling to Putrajaya was far, around an hour, so he decided to work from Kuala Lumpur. He, however, was contactable and had received my instructions and orders during this time.

Sri Ram: If the officer was substandard would his contract be renewed?

Azizah: My principle is if the person is willing to listen to criticism and shows signs of willingness to improve then the person should be given a second chance. This is my style of working.

Sri Ram then asked if Azizah ever had any issues or disagreements working with Rosmah as there were reports she was intimidating towards public servants and was demanding.

Azizah said those were par the course especially when working in a team.

In her witness statement, Azizah said she had not been aware of many things Rizal is being accused of especially how he had asked for bribes without anyone’s knowledge.

Devan Manuel

In this trial, Rosmah is accused of having solicited RM187.5 million in bribes from Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd’s Saidi Abang Samsudin and for taking a RM1.5 million bribe from him and a separate RM5 million bribe from him via Rizal, in exchange for helping the company Jepak Holdings get a RM1.25 billion 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 was initially scheduled to be on joint trial with Rosmah, but the prosecution withdrew charges against Rizal before the trial started.

Azizah’s appearance in Court had been delayed at least twice due to Rosmah’s lawyers catching Covid-19 and Azizah flight delayed from Saudi Arabia after she performed her Umrah, leaving her to stay in isolation during prior Court dates.

Today’s proceeding was almost delayed due to technical difficulties because as soon as the trial was about to start the video feed to the media room went dead.

The trial that was supposed to start at 10am then resumed at 11.30am.

Today, the defence also sought to bring back Jepak’s former managing director Saidi for further questioning.

However, after deliberating, judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan decided it would not be necessary as Saidi had answered all the questions necessary.

The judge said it would also cause further delays to the trial.

He then set April 5 for oral submissions.

Sri Ram said the prosecution would send their written submissions in two weeks while Rosmah’s counsel said they would do so by the end of March. – MMO