KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang wants the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government to come clean on who is in charge of the controversial Special Affairs Department (Jasa).
The DAP veteran noted the silence from Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah whose Communications and Multimedia Ministry has been given responsibility of the agency, criticised as a propaganda unit following renewed interest over its RM85.5 million allocation under Budget 2021.
“If Saifuddin is not the person who would finally be in charge of Jasa, who will finally be in charge of Jasa?” Lim asked in a statement today.
“What type of a governance do we have in Malaysia where a minister is not in charge of an agency in his ministry?” the Iskandar Puteri MP added.
Saifuddin was reported by The Malaysian Insight last week to have been shocked by the large sum to revive Jasa and has tasked the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Mentek to investigate the matter, though his deputy Datuk Seri Zahidi Zainul Abidin has claimed otherwise.
Saifuddin had been part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Cabinet that had collectively agreed to disband Jasa in May 2018.
Lim noted that former Jasa director-general Datuk Puad Zarkashi has publicly disclosed that he reported directly to the prime minister even when the agency was placed under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry previously.
The Iskandar Puteri MP further noted that the RM85.5 million allocated proposed for Jasa in Budget 2021 is the largest since 2015, even accounting for the incremental increase annually up to 2018 when it was given RM30 million.
Lim claimed that Jasa under Puad’s leadership from 2015-2018, had spent some RM100 million campaigning “to demonise the DAP” and mislead Malaysians both inside and outside the country on the 1MDB financial scandal.
He demanded Puad give a full account of how he had spent the money.
He urged the ruling PN to justify Jasa’s revival, pointing out that there were overlaps in the agency’s duties with the Information Department — which is also parked under the Commuications and Multimedia Ministry — in disseminating government information and policies to the public.
Lim questioned if the PN government can assure Malaysians that it will not misuse the budget for Jasa to protect its political interests.
“Although Jasa’s revival is awaiting the green-light from Parliament in the 2021 Budget, the pre-Jasa revival propagandists and cybertroopers are already hard at work targeting the critics of Jasa’s revival,” he alleged.