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Jasa’s RM85m better spent on zoo’s animals: Yeoh
Published on: Saturday, November 21, 2020
By: Malay Mail
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Kuala Lumpur: The RM85.5 million budget planned for the controversial government unit Special Affairs Department (Jasa) can be used for funding Zoo Negara’s operations for about seven years, or to even buy two million sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) donned by Covid-19 frontliners, DAP MP Hannah Yeoh said (pic).

Yeoh, who is also the former deputy minister of women, family and community development, said she had previously highlighted the need to form an agency for children, which she said form 30 per cent of Malaysia’s population.

But she said she had always been told that there were financial constraints and financial impact to the government if new government units are to be formed, as it involved manpower and restructuring.

“But if compared to how easy it is for the Jasa unit to be revived, I think it is not fair and it is a cruelty towards children who need Jasa’s allocation more,” the Segambut MP told the Dewan Rakyat in her debate on the Budget 2021 speech.

She shared in the Dewan Rakyat her basic calculations of what are some of the alternative items the RM85.5 million allocation could be used for instead:
  1. Two million PPEs, or
  2. 267 million face masks, or
  3. 42,000 laptops for students, or
  4. Grants of almost RM8,000 each for 10,000 schools nationwide to buy sanitisers, handwash, or
  5. Grants of almost RM5,000 each for 17,000 kindergartens and childcare centres (taska) to fight Covid-19, or
  6. 855,000 food baskets, or
  7. To establish 171 Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioners position, or
  8. 1,500 homes under the Housing Assistance Programme (Rumah Program Perumahan Rakyat Termiskin (PPRT) in Peninsular Malaysia, or
  9. 1,200 PPRT homes in Sabah and Sarawak, or
  10. To fund Zoo Negara for 85 months (almost seven years)

On Nov 17, Zoo Negara was reported as saying that it is currently facing a financial crisis due to income loss suffered as a result of the third wave of Covid-19 cases, with the national zoo only having emergency funds for three months and having monthly expenses of about RM1 million (including RM350,000 per month for food for animals alone).

In the same speech, Yeoh went on to stress that the federal government should spend the funds from taxpayers wisely.

“So the Budget 2021 debate this time is not a political game. In the Covid-19 situation which is very challenging for the economy, each cent collected by the government is the result of the people’s hard work that is generated amid many challenges.

“Therefore, this time each cent that will be spent by the government must be measured by comparing the appropriateness for the government to waste RM85.5 million for propaganda purposes to pull the wool over the public’s eyes,” she said.

Yeoh is one of the many MPs who have been criticising the RM85.5 million budget for Jasa, due to its legacy as a propaganda unit, and the size of its budget allocated in Budget 2021 which they said suggested misplaced priorities and amounted to funds which could be better spent to help Malaysians. – Malay Mail

Jasa — best known as a propaganda unit from the era of the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration — was dissolved in May 2018 by the PH government that had pursued an austerity campaign to address the national debt inherited from the BN government.

But the Perikatan Nasional government plans to revive Jasa next year through allocations for the Communications and Multimedia Ministry, with the federal government’s estimated federal expenditure for 2021 showing a proposed RM4 million for Jasa (with RM2.4628 million of this RM4 million to go to emoluments or salaries of a planned 52 personnel) and a proposed amount of nearly RM81.55 million (including about RM4 million for emoluments and almost RM74 million for services and supplies) for the expansion of Jasa.

Yesterday, Sibuti MP Lukanisman Awang Sauni ― also a former Jasa officer ― confirmed that Jasa was a propaganda department, but denied it had carried out cybertrooper work and said it had instead worked to collect information for the government. He had also suggested the new Jasa chief be someone from within the civil service, instead of being a member of political parties.

 



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