KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal today said the allocation of RM85.5 million to the Department of Special Affairs (Jasa) during the Covid-19 health crisis is unnecessary.
Shafie, in raising the matter in Parliament today, said the Community Development Department (Kemas), under the Ministry of Rural Development, is capable enough to carry out Jasa’s duties — to purportedly disseminate information to the public on government initiatives and policies.
He said the allocation could have gone to the public health sector to better help it combat Covid-19.
“As we see in Budget , a [government] body was established to create more jobs for the people to ensure that we address their struggles, but why are we creating jobs in Jasa?
“I previously worked in the Information Department for five years. Jasa’s role can be played by Kemas. Why are we spending RM85.5 million on Jasa, instead of on nurses, public health officials or jobs for unemployed graduates in rural areas?” Shafie, who was a former minister of rural and regional development minister under the previous Barisan Nasional administration, asked.
He said Budget 2021 failed to address issues of contract workers attached to the Ministry of Health who consist of frontline personnel working to combat Covid-19.
The former Sabah chief minister also cited concerns by the Malaysian Medical Association, who stated that the economic impact of Covid-19 could see about 200 clinics shutter by end of the year.
Last week, Datuk Puad Zarkashi, the former director-general (D-G) of Jasa before it was disbanded, rejected the government’s allocation to reconstitute the unit, branding it an extravagance at a time the country was battling Covid-19.
While he agreed with the idea of reestablishing the Barisan Nasional-era propaganda unit, he said spending so much to do so now would be tone-deaf on the government’s part.