KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has called on the government to cancel the planned allocation of RM85.5 million to the revived Special Affairs Department (Jasa), stating such expenditure would be better suited to serving the people.
In his debate of Budget 2021 this morning, Anwar also described the allocation for Jasa as well another RM8.6 million as a one-off grant to community groups under the Housing and Local Government Ministry as “zalim”, an Arabic word for “tyrannical”.
“At a time when the rakyat is in distress, it is zalim for you to take money, RM85.5 million and another RM8.6 million for KPKT.
“Speaker, this is unprecedented — a one-off grant to community groups and unknown NGOs, without details, one-off, only to safeguard the needs of the minister concerned and their political group and used as propaganda, presented it to the monarch, tabled it to the people and to the MPs that this is a Covid-19 Budget,” he said, using the Malay acronym for the Housing and Local Government Ministry.
When tabling Budget 2021 on Friday, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz announced that a total of RM85.5 million would go towards restarting the dismantled Jasa.
The controversial proposal prompted the Communications and Multimedia Ministry to defend the plan yesterday by presenting Jasa as necessary to counter Covid-19 misinformation and other fake news.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) currently performs this role.
The ministry also justified the RM85.5 million allocation as necessary to repopulate the unit with qualified staff.
Jasa was dissolved after Pakatan Harapan embarked on an austerity drive following its general election victory in 2018.
In Budget 2018 — the last before it was disbanded — Jasa was allocated RM30 million for all its activities.