PKR MP says RM85m for Jasa pay could pay for clinics, schools, laptops for students,

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Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil speaks to Malay Mail in Bangsar September 29, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara.
Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil speaks to Malay Mail in Bangsar September 29, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 — The government should reconsider its proposal to revive the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) as there was better use for the RM85.5 million, said Fahmi Fadzil.

The Lembah Pantai MP said the sum would be better for public welfare when invested in education and health infrastructure.

Among others, he said it could pay for two modern and fully-fitted public health clinics that could cater to as many as 800 visitors daily.

It could also pay for three school buildings with 24 classrooms each or used to buy 85,000 laptops for students who did not have a way to follow the virtual classrooms forced on all schools that must be closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

Commenting on the Communications and Multimedia’s statement that Jasa was needed as an effective communications tool to combat Covid-19 misinformation and fake news, Fahmi said these functions were already capably performed by other government agencies.

Among these were the Information Department; state news outlets such as RTM, Bernama, and BernamaTV; the ministry’s own Strategic Communications Department; and the respective communications units at each ministry.

“Or is the Perikatan Nasional actually saying that all these other agencies — which were given over RM731 million under Budget 2021 — are incapable or have failed to perform the duty of delivering information to the grassroots?” he said in a statement.

Earlier today, the ministry defended the proposal to revive the Barisan Nasional-era propaganda unit that was disbanded during the Pakatan Harapan administration, saying it was necessary as an effective and targeted communication tool.

The ministry acknowledged public unease about the proposal but insisted that it would not be staffed by a politically-motivated team.

Jasa was dissolved in May 2018 after PH launched an austerity campaign in a bid to contain the national debt it inherited after winning the general election.

Prior to that, the BN government had allocated RM30 million for the unit in its Budget 2018.

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