KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — The Special Affairs Department, otherwise known as Jasa, will be rebranded as the Community Communications Department (J-Kom) and will not operate as a political propaganda machine for the government, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah assured today.
The communications and multimedia minister, during his Budget winding-up speech in Parliament today, said the department will undergo rebranding and restructuring to ensure its goal of delivering accurate information to the masses is achieved.
“JKom’s first priority concerns the question of communication of information during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I can give my assurance that J-Kom will not be a propaganda machine; not under my watch,” he said.
Saifuddin then when answering fellow lawmakers who questioned the RM85.5 million allocated to the J-Kom, explained the amount was not something new with similar amounts given to the agency before it was disbanded by the previous Pakatan Harapan government.
He detailed that the department under previous administrations had received RM78.5 million, RM81 million, RM85.3 million, and RM74 million from 2015 to 2018 before its disbandment.
Saifuddin then also gave his assurance to Parliament that its allocation would be reduced.
“I can give my assurance that the total will be reduced, but how much is being considered, I cannot give you a number yet,” he said when pressed for an answer by his predecessor and Puchong MP Gobind Singh.
The minister again gave his assurance to lawmakers that J-Kom’s director-general and deputy director-general will be appointed from among deserving professionals and administrative officers within the civil service.
“The appointment will go through the processes of the Public Services Department (JPA).
“And I give my assurance that the DG and deputy DG will not be appointed from among politicians,” he said.
When pressed further on political nominees possibly being proposed, Saifuddin again reiterated the hiring process would follow the guidelines and standards set out by JPA.
The announcement of the allocation for Jasa following the Budget’s tabling triggered backlash from mostly Opposition lawmakers who questioned the need of the agency that was widely touted as a propaganda arm of the former Barisan Nasional administration.
Allocations within the region of RM85.5 million from the Budget for newly named J-Kom was also questioned by MPs who demanded the government explain the need to prioritise funding for essentially a communications agency at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.