Ministry clarifies funds for revived Jasa

PETALING JAYA: The allocation for the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) under Budget 2021 will be used to turn it into an agency focused in uniting the country and galvanise the effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, says the Communications and Multimedia Ministry.

It said yesterday that Jasa would no longer be politically motivated, adding that it would instead engage Malaysians of all races and religions to better develop the nation.

It said it was very much aware of concerns expressed after the announcement that RM85.5mil was allocated to Jasa, due to the government agency having strayed from its initial objectives.

The ministry said it had been given the responsibility to head the restructuring of Jasa into an agency to disseminate information in an organised, strategic and targeted manner to the community.

“This responsibility is made more important as the country faces the Covid-19 pandemic. Fake news which can affect national harmony is a major challenge in a plural society like ours.

“Jasa, as a government agency, is based on the Rukun Negara. We have a role to create unity through accurate and verified information to the people.

“It is in this context that Jasa is being rebranded,” the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

Set up in 1959 as the Badan Hal Ehwal Khas, it went through several transformations before being rebranded as Jasa in 2004.

The agency was dissolved by the Pakatan Harapan government after GE14.

Many, including those in the Opposition, had criticised the Budget 2021 allocation to revive Jasa which was largely seen as a political propaganda machine.

In July, Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin said Jasa would be revived to help workers terminated after the department was disbanded.

The ministry said Jasa would take in qualified officers and staff members who would be trained in social and digital communications to disseminate vital information to educate and enlighten the people on the new norms.

“It is very important that this is done as soon as possible as these efforts will also further spark patriotic spirit, in line with Budget 2021 theme of Resilient as One, Together we Triumph,” it stated.

The ministry further said the allocation to Jasa was for the intake of more staff to be placed in all states and districts nationwide.

“This allocation is also to activate staff in the remote and interior areas. Jasa will undertake engagement sessions with civil society and local community stakeholders to get constructive feedback in our nation-building effort.

“All expenses will be audited under the government’s financial mechanisms. The allocation to Jasa will be spent in the best way possible to carry out the functions and role of the agency effectively,” the ministry assured.

It further said the allocation would also help reinvigorate the economy in terms of those providing support services to the agency.
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