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From blogger to corporate liason officer

Categories: Malaysia

In 2008, Malaysian blogger Syed Azidi Syed Aziz took the headlines by calling Malaysian bloggers to fly (or place) the national flag upside down on their blogs [1]. This was as a sign of a nation in distress. The reason he did this, according to Syed himself, wasn't entirely altruistic.

While many bloggers harked to his call, making him a national hero to some, and even more so when he was apprehended for his actions [2], Syed now claims he was paid RM4 million (USD1.25 million) over a period of three years to tarnish the credibility of former prime minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and his administration through his blog.

According to a news report [3], Syed claimed that the PAS government in Kelantan, a northern state in Malaysia, had paid him to carry out “psychological warfare” to denigrate the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), so that PAS remains in power in Kelantan's state assembly.

Due to his assertion, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has begun investigations on the matter. It is unclear as to why Syed has only now revealed that he was paid and the amount involved, but judging from his blog post [4] on the matter, it appears to be regarding alleged “abuse of power” and “breach of trust” by the PAS governance in Kelantan.

While there is nothing wrong in a political party to pay for ‘image building’ or ‘branding’, the question appears to be where these funds were derived from. In 2009, Syed had served as corporate liaison officer of PMBK [5], the state's investment corporate arm. In November of that year, he was told that his services were not required [6] any longer.