Biden promised to end Trump’s “era of grim demonization” but Muhyiddin wants to do the opposite and launch a new Trumpian “era of demonization” with the revival of JASA in 2021 Budget

The Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin promised in his first address to the nation in March to be the prime minister for all Malaysians, but the 2021 Budget presented by the Finance Minister, Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz last Friday belied this solemn Prime Ministerial vow, as it had polarised instead of united Malaysians of diverse races, languages, religions and cultures in the country.

In the United States, the 46th President-elect Joe Biden promised to end Trump’s “era of grim demonization” but Muhyiddin wants to do the opposite and launch a new Trumpian “era of grim demonization” with the revival of Special Affairs Department (JASA) in 2021 Budget.

The Pakatan Harapan government dissolved JASA because it was the chief liar and propagandist instrument of the Najib government, whose director-general was more powerful than an ordinary Cabinet Minister.

In fact, the Director-General of JASA was a super-Minister, whose salary was more than the Minister for Communications and Multi-media under whom JASA was formally parked, and the JASA director-general was responsible only to the Prime Minister and not the Minister for Communications and Multi-media.

During Najib’s administration, JASA was the most unpatriotic and irresponsible in opposing the five nation-building principles of Rukun Negara and the chief government agency to perpetrate the falsehood that the 1MDB financial scandal was “fake news”, and demonising the DAP as anti-Malay, anti-Islam, anti-royalty and even as “communists” to distract Malaysians from the issues of 1MDB and kleptocracy.

I am really shocked that the Perikatan Nasional has not only decided to revive JASA. the chief demonisation agency of the Najib administration, but to allocate it with a huge budget of RM85.5 million ringgit next year, which is almost thrice the allocation of RM30 million in the final year of the Najib administration.

It would appear that the Perikatan Nasional government has come full circle and is now in the same mould of the rejected UMNO-Barisan Nasional government before May 9, 2018.

Bersatu Information Chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan said that JASA under the Perikatan Nasional government was no longer a propaganda unit.

He said: “That era has passed”.

Wan Saiful does not know what he is talking about.

More accurate is what the former JASA director-general Mohd Puad Zarkashi said that by nature JASA was political and there was nothing to be apologetic about it.

Puad said JASA is an agency to disseminate information and conduct strategic communication for the government.

He said that the government of the day needs a mouthpiece.

"What is wrong with that?", he asked.

Puad’s only unhappiness is not the nearly three-fold increase in allocation for a revived JASA but that it is not run by an UMNO leader but by Bersatu.

So, will the revived JASA director-general be again a super-Minister whose salary is more than the Minister and who is answerable to the Prime Minister, and not the Minister under whom his agency is parked?

If the Prime Minister wants all MPs to support the 2021 Budget, then he should drop the bad idea of the revival of JASA as a propaganda unit to spearhead the demonization of the DAP and opponents to the PN government.

The RM85 million should be channelled to the promotion of unity from the diverse races, languages, religions and cultures in the country, answerable to a bipartisan parliamentary Select Committee.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri