KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — The Special Affairs Department (Jasa), which could be revived at a cost of over RM81.5 million, was necessary to help the government counter Covid-19 misinformation, said the Communications and Multimedia Ministry.
The ministry also asserted that the Barisan Nasional-era propaganda unit that was dissolved during the previous Pakatan Harapan administration would be “rebranded” to become an effective and targeted communication tool.
“This responsibility is extremely important and critical, especially with the country facing the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic now,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The spread of fake news that has damaged communal harmony is also among the major challenges our diverse community faces today.”
As the agency supporting the Rukunegara, Jasa would play a role in creating a unified country through the dissemination of accurate and verified information, it said.
The ministry also said the allocation for the unit’s revival, as proposed in Budget 2021, was needed to repopulate the decommissioned agency with capable communications officers who would also be stationed in all states, down to the individual districts.
It acknowledged the unease that the proposed revival has caused among Malaysians, but put this down to previous governments diverting the unit from its intended agenda.
“However, the ministry guarantees all parties that the re-establishment of Jasa, with a team that is absolutely not politically motivated, is intended to bolster the character and social development of the multicultural community,” the ministry said.
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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