Jasa allocation to be slashed

THE RM85.5mil sum allocated to the controversial Special Affairs Department (Jasa) in Budget 2021 will be slashed, says Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

However, he did not reveal how much would be slashed.

“I guarantee (that the allocation will be reduced). How much? Soon (it will be revealed), ” he said in his winding-up speech on Budget 2021 yesterday.

Saifuddin said the RM85.5mil allocation was based on the total number of parliamentary and state constituencies.

He added that Jasa would be known as “J-Kom”, the abbreviation of Jabatan Komunikasi.

“I can guarantee that J-Kom is not a propaganda machine. Not under my charge, ” he said when responding to Gobind Singh Deo (PH-Puchong), who had interjected and asked whether there was a need to revive Jasa since there were already departments and agencies such as RTM, Bernama and the Information Department that had the same responsibility as Jasa.

Saifuddin said the existing agencies and their platforms were not effective in disseminating the government’s Covid-19 efforts to the people.

“The human stories are not coming out. That is why I’m saying

that J-Kom’s first priority will be about Covid-19 communications, ” he said.

Saifuddin also gave assurance that the appointments of J-Kom director-general and deputy director-general would not be among the politicians.

“They must be a combination of a professional and a good administrative officer with high credibility.

“The candidates will have to undergo the application and interview processes as stipulated by the Public Service Department, ” he said.

Saifuddin’s remarks brought about several interjections by Opposition MPs, but they were cut short by Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon, who said he had given additional time for MPs to ask questions.

Rashid also muted Hannah Yeoh’s (PH-Segambut) microphone as she was about to speak.

“Don’t turn off my microphone. I only wanted 10 seconds. Jasa’s allocation is the most controversial issue among all the debates we have had, ” said Yeoh.

“If you want all MPs to support the Budget, we should not rush through it like that.

“The minister must have an acceptable answer for us so that we can support it, ” she added.

Saifuddin said earlier that the RM85.5mil allocation for Jasa was not “something extraordinary” as the department had received similar allocations in 2015 (RM78.5mil), 2016 (RM81mil), 2017 (RM85.3mil) and 2018 (RM74mil).

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

It was dissolved by the Pakatan Harapan government after the 14th General Election.

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