Monday, August 8, 2011

Taib’s ‘rogue’ PR campaign, thanks to Najib

CORRUPT BARISAN NASIONAL : KUCHING: When Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud hired FBC Media, it was to counter widespread negative reports of him.
Nothing wrong with hiring a PR company, is there?
Taib needed it, more so after revelations surfaced of his immense personal wealth and billions of dollars in global business links allegedly derived from timber concessions dating back to the 1980s.
The Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund had linked and blacklisted 49-companies in eight countries to Taib and his family.
To top this opposition, environmentalists and conservationist here and abroad have claimed that under his rule 70% of Sarawak’s rainforest have been deforested and indigenous communities marginalised, abused and ignored.

Indeed, Taib needed a ‘lifesaving’ campaign going into Sarawak’s 10th state elections which was held on April 16.
So, he asked his ‘chief’ Barisan Nasional head-honcho Najib Tun Razak’s help.
Najib recommended FBC Media. The company knew the drill, having been on Malaysia’s RM28 million-a year payroll since Najib commissioned them to perform a ‘Global Strategic Communications Campaign’ to prop his and the BN government’s image, following the coalition’s ‘crash’ in the 2008 general election.
So, meeting Taib’s desperate need to quash allegations of widespread corruption in his administration, his personal wealth and his family’s oppulent lifestyle amidst claims of deforestation, land grabs, natives abuse and Sarawakian poverty,  was easy.
All he needed was a rogue PR campaign.
The ‘deal’ with Taib

The US$5million-a-year deal between Taib and FBC Media was for the latter to mastermind a cyber-war against online critics of the chief minister’s corrupt government.
And in this ‘war’, FBC Media was to recruit as many renegades writers, blogs and television shows as possible to achieve their aim.
At the onset of the deal between Taib and FBC Media, the company’s chairman Alan Friedman said US$55,000 (RM165,00) per month would be spent for blogging operations.
And this would include “online digital strategy and blogging, site creation and management, blogging and articles, video reports on line”.
A RM138,000 per month budget was set aside for “in-bound press and blogger visits, press, foreign visit support, interview placement, writing, disseminating, media training, media analysis and mapping” services”
Revealing these details in its posting today, Sarawak Report noted that Friedman said he had “the tools and international experience to make a genuine and visible difference“.
Friedman allegedly told Taib that he would “work both on the positive messages and to counter negative perceptions and falsehoods that have been spread unfairly about environmental matters ranging from the Bakun Dam, timber, mining and palm oil.
“We would also counter false allegations that have been made about corruption.
“Television reporting and an interview with yourself plus press tours and online sites and special blogging that should provide a blanket of positive messaging about you and Sarawak to the Western media“.
Paid for PR spins
Having inked the deal with Taib, Friedman roped in an obsure US website, New Ledger, which is operated by Josh Trevino.
Many of the ‘feel good’ reports on Taib, Najib and Co were first posted on New Ledger.
Incidently, New Ledger, is an off-shoot of the US-Republican blog, Red State
Trevino also has a hand in Rogue Strategic Services which actively represent ‘high-paying’ clients on blogsphere.
It is Trevino and his team’s reach on the US blogsphere that has allegedly spawned the paid-for advertorials about Taib, Najib and the BN administration these past months.
FBC Media is presently being investigated by both UK broadcaster BBC and US-based CNBC over their practices.

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