The government has agreed to rebrand the Department of Special Affairs (Jasa) as the Department of Community Communications (J-KOM) with different roles and functions, Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says.
He said the main objective of J-KOM will be to create two-way communications between the government and the people, namely to convey accurate, authentic, and wise government information to the people, as well as to hear the voices and feedback from the people.
“The method used is by developing the community, especially at the grassroots level, who practise a culture of knowledge, are digitally skilled, and appreciate the meaning and focus of patriotism by adopting the community empowerment approach,” he said when winding up the debate on the Supply Bill 2021 for his ministry at the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.
Saifuddin also said the functions of J-KOM would differ from those of Japen (Department of Information) as the main task of J-KOM at the moment is to implement strategic communication to promote the new normal in light of Covid-19.
Japen, on the other hand, is tasked with providing the public with an understanding of the government’s policies, programmes and initiatives through, first and foremost, communications.
The minister said the functions of J-KOM will not overlap with those of other agencies such as Bernama, Radio Televisyen Malaysia and the Malaysian National Film Development Corporation (Finas) which have their own target groups as well as different approaches and activities.
Responding to Sim Tze Tzin (PH-Bayan Baru) on the allegation that J-KOM would be a propaganda agent, Saifuddin refuted it and stressed that its director-general and deputy director-general would not be appointed from among politicians.
“I am giving the assurance that J-KOM is not a propaganda machine, not under my charge. The appointment will follow the Public Service Department’s (PSD) criteria and the main criterion for the appointment is that he or she must be IT-savvy.
“I am also giving the assurance that the director-general and deputy director-general of J-KOM will not be appointed from among politicians. They must be a combination of a professional and a good administrative officer with high credibility,” he said.
He added that the candidates will have to undergo the application and interview processes stipulated by the PSD.
On the allocation of RM85.5 million to the department, which had been deemed too big, Saifuddin hinted that the allocation would be reduced.
He said the reduction was possible as the allocation for J-KOM would be given based on the number of districts and not the number of parliamentary and state constituencies as was previously the case.