Can the Azalina Committee on Fake News ascertain whether allegations that DAP had spent RM100 million to RM1 billion before last general elections to maintain a 3,000-strong cybertrooper Red Bean Army was fake news or not?

The Azalina Committee on Fake News should find out what were the millions or even tens of millions of ringgit which UMNO and Barisan Nasional had spent on cybertroopers to manufacture and disseminate fake news in the country in the past five years.

An indication of the sums of monies expended by UMNO and Barisan Nasional on cybertroopers could be gleaned from the allegations made by UMNO/BN propagandists about the money the DAP spent on cybertroopers, particularly on the fictitious “Red Bean Army”.

Immediately after the last general elections five years ago, UMNO/BN propagandists went to town to allege the DAP funded a fictitious “Red Bean Army” (RBA) of 3,000 cybertroopers with a budget of RM100 million to RM1 billion in the previous six years to attack the UMNO/BN authorities and to defame UMNO/BN leaders over a whole variety of issues.

They even alleged that the RBA had two operational centres, one in Hotel Concorde in Kuala Lumpur and the other based in Komtar in Penang.

I recalled that when the UMNO/BN propagandists stepped up their barrage of lies, fake news and false information about the DAP-funded RBA, I led a team of DAP MPs accompanied by journalists to make a surprise visit to Concorde Hotel on the night of July 4, 2014.

We found Concorde Hotel – which was supposed to be one the two operational centres of the billion-ringgit Red Bean Army – crawling with UMNO leaders and operatives but no Red Bean Army. We found something even more shocking – that the exorbitant ice-kachang in Concorde Hotel had no red beans at all!

As a result, the UMNO/BN fairy tale of DAP-funded RBA became a national standing joke and it died a natural death, until half-hearted attempts were made desultorily in the past two years to revive the spurious allegations.

However, what was interesting about the UMNO/BN allegations about the RBA was that it revealed the modus operandi of UMNO/BN in recruiting cybertroopers, especially the funding involved – as no UMNO/BN cybertrooper or election worker will volunteer for free or work only for “water and sunshine” but had to be paid, and paid very handsomely!

The going rate for the UMNO/BN cybertroopers would be RM500 to RM3,000 monthly, including free telephone gadgets and laptops.

Last November, the UMNO Information Technnology Bureau organized a convention for some 3,500 UMNO cybertroopers.

Taking an average expenditure of RM2,000 a month for each UMNO cybertrooper, this would come to some RM7 million a year, and this would not include the expenditures incurred for cybertroopers engaged by other units or state outfits of UMNO/BN.

Who would finally foot the bill for these astronomical expenditures, if not the Malaysian taxpayers themselves?

Would the Azalina Committee on Fake News establish whether the fictitious Red Beans Army (RBA) with some 3,000 cybertroopers which the DAP had allegedly maintained before the 13th General Election, costing from RM100 million to RM1 billion, existed or not.

If yes, to produce proof; and if not, to come out with a clear-cut statement on the allegations was the fake news concocted by UMNO/BN cybertroopers?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah