Najib: Funds could be better used to save lives


Reports by MARTIN CARVALHO, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, RAHIMY RAHIM and TARRENCE TAN

THE RM85.5mil allocated under Budget 2021 to revive the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) will be better spent on providing relief to frontliners and parents, says Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The former Barisan Nasional chairman said the huge allocation for Jasa, when the country was in crisis, would lead to public anger because the funds could be better used for saving lives.

“The four-fold increase in allocation for Jasa compared to during Barisan’s era is unacceptable and only courts the anger of the rakyat, ” Najib said when debating Budget 2021 in Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The former premier noted that he could accept this if the allocation was used to purchase hand sanitiser, face masks or food for pupils missing out on free-breakfast programme at schools, which are closed.Set up in 1959 as 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.

Before it was disbanded, Jasa was provided RM30mil under the budget in 2018 during Najib’s Barisan administration.

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

Jasa was allocated RM4mil for strategic communications under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry and RM81.5mil to new policies.

In response to this, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry said the allocation for Jasa would be used to turn it into an agency focused in uniting the country and galvanising the effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

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