Current Affairs, National

Don’t waste RM85.5 million on JASA, run a media literacy campaign instead

Press Statement
9th November 2020

After stirring widespread public discontent on social media by reviving Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas (JASA), the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia issued a statement yesterday clarifying that JASA was brought back to fight fake news. This half-baked excuse seemingly underestimates the rakyat’s intelligence. I hope that KKMM can at least come clean and not find some ridiculous excuse to pacify angry Malaysians for reviving JASA.

Firstly, if KKMM’s objective is truly to counter fake news, then the minister should not be utilising an agency infamous for carrying out propaganda and for being used as a spin doctor for the BN regime. JASA, soon to be given such an enormous allocation by Perikatan Nasional will not be able to help KKMM achieve its objective to fight fake news, if that is indeed the real objective behind this move.

Secondly, KKMM already has many channels to fight fake news as it is. For example, RTM and BERNAMA have a whole news and information network, both on traditional media and social media respectively. Even the Information Department itself has its own information dissemination mechanisms. All these agencies under KKMM should be empowered to run a media literacy campaign to help the public better process information they consume. This is the right way to fight fake news.

Unfortunately, the management expenditures for both RTM and Bernama have been reduced by RM94.85 million and RM12 million respectively in Budget 2021. Is this an indication that the minister and deputy minister have greater confidence in JASA that has already been dissolved, rather than in media professionals?

Let it be said that I fully support KKMM’s enthusiasm to counter the spread of disinformation and fake news. Nevertheless, we must use the right methods if we want to achieve this goal.

The fact is, I have raised the point on numerous occasions in Dewan Rakyat that media and digital literacy education is the most effective way for us to fight fake news. This method may take a longer time, but it will bring about real and positive impact in our plural society.

Therefore, I suggest that KKMM scrap its plan to revive JASA and instead allocate an appropriate amount to implement a nationwide media literacy campaign. When PH was in government, Lim Kit Siang, MP for Iskandar Puteri, ran such a campaign in collaboration with educational institutions. Using the same model, and if this allocation for JASA is channeled to it, approximately 855,000 Malaysians can take part in this media literacy campaign. This will definitely create a smarter and more info-savvy society.

If KKMM is truly serious about tackling fake news, then I urge the minister to act swiftly and restore public confidence.

Wong Shu Qi
MP for Kluang

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *