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The secret budget of Jasa 2011 – 2018

Article by MP for Kluang, Wong Shu Qi in Kuala Lumpur on 16 November 2020: 

Since the tabling of 2021 federal government budget, the revival of Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas JASA has caught public attention and was widely criticised. Although the majority of Barisan Nasional leaders agreed with the move to revive JASA, they showed hesitation in allocating the astronomical sum of RM85.5 million to the agency amidst of a pandemic crisis. Many of them criticised the allocation for JASA as way too big compared to the ones given during the BN administration. However, the truth is, we may have been fooled by what was shown on budget documents. 

Wong Shu Qi and other MPs have publicly criticised JASA’s revival.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak spoke self-righteously in his parliament debate last week on the RM85.5 million allocation to JASA. He claimed that the four-fold increase, compared to BN’s JASA, is unjustifiable and hence angered the people. 

At first, I, too, believed at that time that Perikatan Nasional (PN) has increased the budget for JASA many folds compared to the RM30 million in 2018 budget, which was tabled by BN. However, a thorough research revealed the truth behind the figures and numbers written in the budget documents. 


The secret budget of JASA under Najib’s BN

Puad Zarkashi was JASA’s former director.

PH government dissolved JASA in October 2018. According to media report then, about 300 permanent staff would be absorbed into other agencies, as they were career civil servants. Meanwhile, UMNO man Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz, who led JASA after Mohd Puad Zakarshi had resigned as director, claimed that about 800 contract staff lost their jobs following the dissolution of JASA. 

Therefore, the number of staff employed under JASA was definitely not 272 as shown in the 2018 budget document.


The question then is, where did BN government hide all the expenses of the 800 contract staff?


Comparing the 2018 budget tabled by BN and the 2019 budget tabled by PH, I discovered that the “Contract Staff Emolument” under Communication and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM) was reduced from RM 52.37 million (2018) to RM605,600 (2019). In other words, it was a significant RM51.76 million or 99% reduction.  


JASA’s ‘creative’ restructuring by Najib Razak

Former Prime Minister, Najib Razak.

JASA had obviously gone through a structural reform after Najib Razak came into power. Najib succeeded Tun Abdullah Badawi in April 2009. It was obvious that he was not in time to change the 2010 budget massively. In his first budget as Prime Minister and Finance Minister, JASA was allocated RM54.86 million. 

The figure was, however, slashed to RM21.75 million in 2011 budget, a year after Najib came into power. It seemed as if Najib reduced the size of JASA. In actual fact, he had creatively moved the budget else where. The item of “Contract Staff Emolument” was first placed under then Ministry of Information Communication and Culture in 2011 budget; the amount was a huge RM71.19 million. 

Since 2011 to 2017, the allocation to JASA had been kept in between RM21 million to RM24 million.


This allocation increased to RM30 million in the 2018 budget. 


The real meat of JASA’s budget however was moved to the “Contract Staff Emolument” section mentioned above.

Between the same period, the allocation for Contract Staff Emolument was reduced from more than RM70 million to about RM50 million. The last figure for this item before JASA was disbanded was RM52.37 million in 2018. Overall, between 2011-2018, the Najib administration secretly spent an average of over RM80 million for JASA but diverted our attention by hiding the real figures in the budget documents. 

Nevertheless, not all contract staff under KKMM were employed for JASA nor to do JASA-related work. The ministry, like all other ministries, has allocation for contract staff to do all sorts of ministry work. Therefore, the allocation for contract staff emolument was kept during the PH administration but was only allocated a mere RM605,600. 

In summary, it is very clear that after examining the past budgets, JASA was indeed given more than what was written in the book or claimed by Najib shamelessly in the Parliament last week. 

By comparing the staff number announced by former JASA director and the figures on the budget document, we can ascertain that the Najib administration had also secretly allocated about RM80 million annually to operate the political propaganda outfit by using people’s money.


Why PN so desperately wants to revive JASA


It is totally understandable why PN government decided to revive the infamous JASA. They must have thought that JASA would save PN from collapsing given the experience of PH which fell in less than two years because the latter had dissolved JASA. However, PN must have forgotten that the BN regime was defeated in 2018 even though BN had been secretly spending tens of millions in JASA. 

This is not the time to engage in propaganda work. Malaysians are facing a global pandemic, a record economic crisis and a tumultuous political instability due to the treacherous Langkah Sheraton. The role of the government in this crucial times is to protect lives, save livelihood and secure a national reconciliation. Nothing less will do to save Malaysia and Malaysians at this juncture, and definitely not spending RM85.5 million in a political propaganda unit which will further divide Malaysians. 

Wong Shu Qi,
MP for Kluang.

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