Politicians urge govt to explain logic behind RM81.5m allocation for Jasa in Budget 2021

Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan speaks to Malay Mail during an interview in Menara Dato Onn, Kuala Lumpur June 11, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan speaks to Malay Mail during an interview in Menara Dato Onn, Kuala Lumpur June 11, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 — The RM81.5 million allocation to the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia during Budget 2021 has become the focus of discussion on social media.

Both Opposition and some Umno politicians have come out openly demanding the Perikatan Nasional government to explain the reason for the high allocation.

Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan said RM81.5 million is a huge sum for Jasa as its role is just to disseminate information for the government.

“Much too big, and not a priority. Role could be absorbed by JPen (Information Department) and even then, not anything close to RM80 million.

“Also hoped there’d be more for jobs, especially care and green economy. Waiting to see what Majlis Kerja (Works Council) will do.

“Increased transfer payments and cash flow help — OK,” he tweeted his Budget 2021 reaction today.

Meanwhile, Malaysia United Democracy Alliance (Muda) president Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman pointed out that Jasa’s proposed allocation was more than the allocation given to repair dilapidated schools.

“Jasa was revived. Government Cybertroopers (Jasa) (now get) RM81 million.

“Previously during BN (Barisan Nasional) it was only RM30 million.

“Regrettably, the allocation to repair dilapidated schools was reduced (to) RM58 million.

“Mental health allocation (is) only RM24 million.

“Get ready to be drowned by Cytros (cyber troopers),” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Pematang Pauh MP, PKR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar urged finance minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz to recall allocations for Jasa and channel the funds to other more important things.

“It is still not late for Finance Minister @tzafrul_aziz to absorb the propaganda fund to fill up urgent needs in medical, education and welfare #Jasa,” she tweeted.

However, not all politicians complained about Jasa as Seberang Prai state assemblyman and PN-linked NGO Pemuda Negara chief Dr Afif Baharuddin criticised the opposition for questioning the allocation meant for Jasa.

“#Belanjawan2021 (Budget 2021) is a comprehensive, solid and inclusive budget.

“The only thing that opposition MPs could think of to oppose is Jasa allocation.

“This is proof that Perikatan Nasional led by @MuhyiddinYassin (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) is people-centric and cares about the need to reenergise the economy,” he tweeted.

The allocation for Jasa was listed under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry’s budget, which is publicly available on the Finance Ministry’s website.

It was given a RM4 million allocation under the strategic communications budget and a second allocation worth RM81.5 million under new policies.

Jasa was dissolved after Pakatan Harapan took over Putrajaya following GE14 in 2018.

In Budget 2018, Jasa was merely allocated RM30 million.

Parliamentary Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who spoke in Parliament after the tabling of Budget 2021 yesterday also weighed in on the issue, criticising the allocations and saying it was a figure that was larger than allocations for the poor and disabled.

Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin previously said in July that Jasa would be revived soon in order to help staff terminated after the department was disbanded by the former PH administration.

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