They pose as ordinary folk, describing themselves as “a fraternity of local bloggers each with their own unique and respective backgrounds”.
However, we can reveal that a new network of pro-BN websites is actually a front run by a handful of paid journalists, who are secretly financed by Awang Tengah and organised by Taib’s chief political secretary, Abdullah Saidol.
‘Bloggers Anak Sarawak’ consists of a number of strikingly similar sites, all topped by the same logo and all targeted against websites critical of BN, most specifically Sarawak Report.
Launched last year the sites still have painfully few followers, with many of the same 16 ‘members’ showing up across the different blogs.
Likewise, many of their articles appear to have received zero comments.
The excuse made by these websites for the widespread lack of interest in what they are saying is that they “don’t sensationalise issues to get high blog hits”. However, it matches our information, which is that these bloggers are being paid according to quantity rather than the impact they make.
It is also noteworthy that the blogs all support Awang Tengah, even more than they support PBB or BN, to the extent of criticising what is written in BN newspapers.
Awang Tengah’s paid cyber troopers
Inside informers have told Sarawak Report that the so-called ‘Bloggers Anak Sarawak’ crew are paid RM3,000 each a month to perform their task and that their chief is a journalist from Taib’s own Sarawak Tribune newspaper, Salfian Nawawi.
Tengah is paying for the project, we are told, but he has entrusted the running of it to two of his closest supporters, the PBB ‘Youth Leader’, Radin Kadri and Taib’s Chief Political Secretary, Abdullah Saidol.
“Tengah gave a large sum of cash money to Abdullah Saidol and Radin Kadri to pay their ‘Bloggers Anak Sarawak’ team expenses. Saidol is the main paymaster for bloggers salaries and activities, but whenever Saidol is not around Radin Kadri will pay the bloggers salaries. Each ‘Bloggers Anak Sarawak’ crew receives salary up to RM 3,000 a month from Saidol or Radin” [Source speaking to Sarawak Report]
Tengah’s reasons for supporting this project are not only to promote BN we are told. More importantly it is about his bid to succeed Taib by building up a momentum of supposed grass roots support.
After we exposed information about Tengah’s alleged plot against Taib late last year he was notably absent from a key PBB election planning meeting, which was reported by the Borneo Post.
This provoked an angry reponse from the ‘Anak Sarawak’ bloggers like X Kedilan Sarawak, which poured out invective against the opposition for suggesting that Awang Tengah had been left out of the meeting by Taib because of his plotting.
What X Kedialan Sarawak had failed to point out was that it was BN’s very own Borneo Post that had noted Tengah’s absence and not opposition websites.
Insiders say this is an example of how the team are putting defending Tengah first on their list of priorities and BN second as rivalries break out .
Tengah is prominently featured and promoted across all the related websites, which is another common characteristic. Websites in the network include: Wire Kenyalang; Kedilan X Sarawak; Asap Koyan; UnReported News; Sarawak Kolok Mee; Kuchingitam; Melenau Blogger to name some of the virtually identical sites.
Key bloggers include publicly paid civil servants
Of particular concern is evidence that among this team of bloggers are publicly paid civil servants, who ought to be spending their time working on the official duties for which they are paid their salary and not promoting the individual political agenda of Awang Tengah.
One of these has been named as Awang Mohd Razif Awang Yusof, the main scribe behind Kedilan X Sarawak, which has employed pictures of back-firing guns and obscene gestures to illustrate its threats against Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak.
Razif is employed as the Information Officer in the Department of Special Affairs (JASA), which is under the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture Malaysia and receives a salary of RM 6,122.73 a month from the Federal Government.
As one source has pointed out, his moonlighting for Tengah for a further RM3,000 is interrupting his public duties and poses a highly questionable conflict of interest:
“Razif also is not giving 100% to his work in the Department of Special Affairs (JASA) as Information Officer, as he is too busy writing and managing his own political blog. How come an Information Officer like him, who can earn salary up to RM 6,122.73 a month from the Federal Government, still wants to make a side income from his blogging? And is he actually really working for the Federal Government or Abdullah Saidol and Radin? By right Razif, as a civil servant in the Managerial and Professional Group category, is required and expected to be politically neutral in his work” [Source speaking to Sarawak Report]
Despite the detail of the information that has been made available to Sarawak Report and the evidence of these blogs it must be noted that certain of the people linked to the Tengah plots have already issued vehement and expressive denials. These include Taib’s Chief Political Secretary who has now been identified as one of the key players man behind Bloggers Anak Sarawak.
More of the same
In fact, BN’s much trumpeted ‘Cyber-Warfare’ is nothing new. It is their attempt to get control of the one medium that they have been unable so far to suppress and buy over.
Commissioning endless and expensive ‘Cyber-Troops’ and paying money to ‘Cyber-Warriors’ is their solution to the awkward information, difficult questions and political criticism that have been appearing online.
And the fact that the sleazy world of ‘Cyber-Warfare’ is inevitably linked to a culture of lies, dirty tricks and illegal activity has clearly not prevented BN from publicly embracing it and outfits such as the disgraced FBC Media, whom we exposed last year.
Our new information is that Tengah’s ‘Bloggers Anak Sarawak’ unit originally came into being after an established BN Sarawak ‘New Social Media Unit’ run by Taib’s nephew Abdul Aziz Adenan started to unravel after the state election.
Tengah moved to take on established PBB bloggers like Zaini Busrah (bujangsenang.org and meradongtoday.blogspot.com, melanaublogger.com and kuchingitam.blogspot.com), who were now looking for work and paid them to join the ‘Bloggers Anak Sarawak’ team.
This was particularly after Tengah failed to persuade Taib to place his own brother in law as Deputy to Adenan in the official PBB New Media Unit.
‘Bloggers Anak Sarawak’ now forms a group within a group of BN ‘Cyber-Warriors’ a further symptom of the dangerous rivalries and divisions in BN as the election approaches:
Readers (if bothered) can therefore expect a lot more articles by the Anak Sarawak team, mainly obsessed with attacking our own Sarawak Report and similar websites, which have exposed BN, while promoting Tengah.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, Sarawakreport has also noted that a parallel domain name, sarawakreport.co.uk, has been purchased by the web provider for Taib Mahmud’s Canadian son-in-law, Sean Murray.
During the run up to the State Election in 2011, Taib launched a major ‘cyber-attack’ on Sarawak Report through another similarly named site, called sarawakreports.org.
The tactic, known in the cyber-world as ‘piggybacking’, seeks to undermine a target by using similarly named sites, which then criticise the original.
Taib had paid the company FBC Media USD $5million to set up the deception and perform other similar services, including ‘distribution denial-attacks’ which temporarily disabled our site altogether.
And Murray too has already been exposed for commissioning the same sort of cyber tricks. In a UK newspaper investigation last year he was revealed has having hired the PR company Bell Pottinger to alter wikipedia sites including that of Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak.
So, as another election approaches, will we soon see another series of attacks based around sarawakreport.co.uk? BN’s Cyber Warriors are clearly paid up and ready!