KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 ― Information Department personnel are barred from going abroad for personal trips from May 1, its director-general Datuk Ibrahim Abdul Rahman confirmed after a circular was leaked on the internet, spurring speculation once more on the next general election date.
Ibrahim clarified that only his department staff were affected and not all civil servants as rumoured, The Borneo Post reported on its website today.
“It does not involve all civil servants like what has been circulated (on social media),” he was quoted saying in a a March 10 statement.
The news outlet posted a screenshot of the circular which it said was issued on February 28, which stated: “Please be informed that any application for unofficial/private overseas travel from 1 May 2017 for all Department staff is frozen as the Department has to prepare for the 14th general elections”.
Ibrahim explained that the circular was issued after an officer from the department’s leave application was rejected recently.
“The officer booked the air ticket when the fare was low. So when the officer’s leave application was not approved, the officer appealed by giving this reason: ‘that the ticket was already booked and the flying date could not be postponed’.
“Given how busy our job can be in view of official programmes, the circular letter had to be issued to freeze the leave of our personnel particularly those going on personal trips abroad,” Ibrahim was quoted saying.
However, he indicated that exceptions may be considered for department staff who apply leave to perform their pilgrimage or to pay their last respects to loved ones abroad. Those travelling domestically would not be affected by the freeze.
He said the Information Department has a duty to propagate government policies and that it is currently focusing on official programmes such as the National Day celebration and SEA Games.
He was also reported saying the department is obliged to help the Election Commission prepare for the upcoming general elections, though it is only due by June next year.