KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 ― The National Patriots Association (Patriot) wants the government to explain its RM81.5 million allocation to the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.
Patriot President Brig-Jen (Retired) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji also questioned the decision to bring back the controversial department that had been criticised for being a propaganda tool, saying there were other existing agencies that could disseminate information about government initiatives and programmes.
“What is so special about Jasa that other agencies of the ministry could not do? This is sheer duplication of tasks and wastage of funds. At a time when our country is so squeezed of funds, such wastage is irresponsible,” he said in a statement today.
He said Jasa had deviated from its original objectives over the years and had become a political propaganda machinery during Barisan Nasional’s rule to be used against its political rivals.
“Prior to GE14, Jasa was used to spearhead cybertroopers’ attack against the Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians,” he added
Jasa received two allocations in yesterday's Budget tabling that actually amounted to RM85.5 million.
The first was RM4 million for strategic communications under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry and the second was RM81.5 million for new policies.
Jasa 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. Prior to that, the then ruling Barisan Nasional set aside RM30 million for the unit in its Budget 2018.
National news agency Bernama cited Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin saying in July that the ministry had started rehiring former officers and could employ as many as 500 people.
The unit was last headed by Umno’s Datuk Mohd Puad Zarkashi. The former Batu Pahat MP told Malay Mail on August 4 that he welcomed Jasa’s revival, claiming its shutdown was an act of political vengeance spearheaded by the DAP.
* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.