KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — The Communications and Multimedia Ministry has already begun efforts to reactivate the Special Affairs Unit (Jasa) that past government critics alleged had been a propaganda unit.
According to national news agency Bernama, Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin said his ministry was already rehiring former Jasa officers for this purpose.
“The [ministry] is conducting recruitment interviews in line with Public Service Commission and Public Service Department guidelines, with priority given to ex-Jasa officers who lost their positions during the Pakatan Harapan administration.
“The new officers are estimated to be as many as 500 but we are also aware of demand from former National Civics Bureau (BTN) officers, so we are also looking into this before deciding,” he was quoted as saying.
The Jasa unit was dissolved in May 2018 after PH launched an austerity campaign in a bid to contain the national debt it inherited after winning the general election.
It was last headed by Umno’s Datuk Mohd Puad Zarkashi.
Prior to its dissolution, the Jasa unit had carried out messaging campaigns for the Barisan Nasional government and produced, among others, a 100-page booklet celebrating the 2015 “Malay Dignity” rally that a senior Umno leader acknowledged to be racial in nature.
Aside from Jasa, a federal minister previously said the government was also looking at replacing BTN that was similarly disbanded during the PH administration.
BTN was also another unit that critics of the previous BN government alleged to be a propaganda outfit.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof said on July 18 that Putrajaya was seeking to revive the BTN unit along with the National Service Programme, possibly combining the two.
The government is now under the control of the informal Perikatan Nasional coalition but many of its leaders had also been part of past BN governments that had ruled Malaysia from Merdeka until 2018.