KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 Zabedah Abdullah, Malaysian Insider - One of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's biggest problems on assuming office has been the negative public perception surrounding his wife, Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor.
For years, the Malaysian public had heard countless stories of Rosmah's excesses and swallowed them hook, line and sinker.
By the time Najib rose to become Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister in 2004, Rosmah had acquired a persona much larger than life, and not in a good way.
Glamorous and outspoken as she is, Rosmah became an easy target. In the cybersphere, she became fodder for the bloggers out to discredit Najib.
From stories about the famous animosity between her and the late Datin Seri Endon Mahmood, to yarns about her supposed excesses in shopping and travelling, every imaginable and unimaginable tale was told and spread about Najib's wife.
She was a control freak, they said. She sat in at government meetings; she asked for an office at the Ministry of Finance; she slapped her husband in public and she allegedly stood and watched as a Mongolian woman was tied up and blown to smithereens.
Taking a step back and looking at some of these stories, many of them do seem absurd. Many people would say they heard it from somebody who heard it from somebody, or read it off a website somewhere.
Yet many Malaysians readily believe them and pass them on as gospel truth. Is it because Rosmah Mansor is so easy to hate? Or is it because vilifying the wife is the best way of discrediting the husband?
Whatever the case may be, Rosmah's image problem is a long standing one, and it would not be so easy for Najib to resolve.