PETALING JAYA: The RM81.5mil allocation under Budget 2021 to revive the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) is better spent on providing relief to frontliners and parents, says former Barisan Nasional president Datuk Seri Najib Razak in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 10).
He described the allocation as "unacceptable".
"As the nation's economy is growing, there is a need for the government to have a communication unit to explain and defend government policies so that they are not misconstrued or twisted.
"But in the time of crisis, where allocation is more important towards saving lives, the four-fold increase of allocation for Jasa compared to during Barisan's era is unacceptable and only courts the anger of the rakyat," Najib said when debating the Budget 2021 in Dewan Rakyat.
The former prime minister said he could accept allocations used to purchase hand sanitisers, face masks or even food supplements for schoolchildren who missed out on the school free-breakfast programme, as schools were now closed.
"But what I cannot accept is the RM85.5mil for Jasa.
"The people's voice is sacred, and what is not comfortable for them should not be continued," he added.
Set up in 1959 as the Badan Hal Ehwal Khas, the unit went through several transformations before being rebranded as Jasa in 2004.
Jasa was dissolved by the Pakatan Harapan government after the 14th General Election.
Before it was disbanded, Jasa was given RM30mil under the budget in 2018 during Najib's Barisan administration.
Under Budget 2021, Jasa was allocated RM4mil for strategic communications under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry and RM81.5mil for new policies.
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