The Special Affairs Department or Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas (JASA), a formerly defunct agency, has been allocated RM81,549,200 in Budget 2021. JASA is under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.
Kluang Member of the Parliament (MP) Wong Shu Qi, who is a DAP politician, shared a screenshot of the allotment while highlighting the huge increase in the agency's budget from Budget 2018 to Budget 2021.
Formed to explain the government initiatives and programmes, JASA turned into political propaganda unit under the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration and was used by UMNO to attack the opposition.
The agency was dissolved after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition took over Putrajaya following the 14th General Election in 2018 which saw BN being voted out by the people.
Following the agency's dissolution on 15 October 2018, some 300 civil servants who served JASA were absorbed into other departments and ministries, while its mostly political contract staff cut.
However, after the RM81,549,200 being allotted to it in Budget 2021, JASA has now been revived under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration, which is supported by UMNO.
In addition to the RM81,549,200, JASA has another allocation of RM4 million. Collectively, the RM85.5 million is a 185% increase from the RM30 million allocated to the agency by BN in Budget 2018.
Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman said the allocation to JASA is actually higher than the amount of money allocated to restoring dilapidated schools and mental healthcare.
A viral tweet highlighted the massive gap in allotment to JASA against health facilities.
The funds allocated to JASA should have been given to targeted businesses such as the micro businesses that are at a breaking point and unable to make rent, according to Klang MP Charles Santiago
"Specific support should have gone to protect SMEs from closing up and jobless workers could have been provided longer social protection," he said in a statement last night.
The National Patriots Association (Patriot) has gone a step ahead and asked the government to explain its allocation to the agency
"Prior to the 2018 general election, Jasa was allegedly used to spearhead 'cybertrooper' attacks against Pakatan Harapan politicians. Patriot would also like to know why JASA is still being retained and not disbanded," Patriot President Retired Brigadier-General Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji said.
"Even if it is meant to disseminate information about the government's initiatives and programmes, what is so special about JASA that other agencies of the ministry cannot 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."