PETALING JAYA: The allocation to the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) in Budget 2021 will enable the department to be revived and focus on uniting the nation in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, says the Communications and Multimedia Ministry.
The ministry assured that Jasa will not be politically motivated as it was fully committed to engaging Malaysians from all races and religions to better develop the nation.
The ministry also said it was aware of the concern among Malaysians when RM85.5mil was allocated to Jasa under Budget 2021 as the agency under the previous governments.
"The Communications and Multimedia Ministry has been given the responsibility to head the restructuring of Jasa to be an agent in disseminating information in an organised, strategic and targeted manner at all levels of the community.
"This responsibility is made more important as the country is facing the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Fake news dissemination which divides the harmony of the nation is a big challenge for a plural society such as ours.
"Jasa as a government agent is based on the Rukun Negara.
"The country has a role to create a united nation through correct and verified information to the people.
"It is in this context that Jasa is being rebranded to its current function.
"Jasa will take in qualified officers and staff and they will be trained to be skilled communicators in social and digital communications to disseminate important information in efforts to educate and culturalise the new norms among the people.
"It is very important that this is done as soon as possible as these efforts will also further ignite patriotic spirit, in line with the theme of Budget 2021, ‘Resilient as One, Together we Triumph’," said the ministry in a statement Sunday (Nov 8).
It also said that the allocation in Budget 2021 to Jasa is for the intake of more staff to be placed in all states and districts nationwide, for training, module development and digital infrastructure to be effective.
"This allocation is also to station staff in the remote areas and interiors in setting up a new agency.
"We understand the worry of the people on the past functions of Jasa which may not have been carried out as it should have under the previous administrations.
"We guarantee everyone that this restructuring of Jasa by a team with no political motives intends to strengthen the character and social development of a multi-racial nation.
"Jasa will undertake engagement sessions with civil society and local community stakeholders to get constructive feedback for the building of a nation.
"All expenses will be audited under the government's financial rulings. The allocation to Jasa will be spent in the best way possible to carry out the functions and role of the agency effectively," said the ministry.
It added that the allocation would also provide job opportunities as well as invigorate the economy for those providing supporting services to the agency in carrying out its role.
In Budget 2021 tabled on Friday (Nov 6), the government allocated RM85.5mil for Jasa compared with RM30mil in Budget 2018.
Under the Pakatan Harapan government, Jasa was dissolved.