Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah today assured that the Department of Community Communications (J-KOM), previously known as the Department of Special Affairs or Jasa, would be non-political in nature.
In an interview with the media in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration, he said the programmes planned under the department would include every race and level of society.
“It’s important to understand that J-KOM isn’t political. It is multiracial and will be structured according to region, not electoral districts,” he said, adding that this would be more appropriate for J-KOM as a government agency.
He also said the first programme under J-KOM would involve communications for people with disabilities or OKU.
For now, though, the department has yet to begin operations, he said, adding that job vacancies would be advertised in the near future.
“We don’t have enough sign language interpreters,” he said. “We will ensure that every region has its own sign language interpreters, including for every government event.”
He said these interpreters will not be required to work as full-time staff at J-KOM although they must at least receive training under the department.
This follows complaints from sign language interpretors on television who said the space allocated for them on-screen was too small.
“If you can’t hear what someone else is saying, you can increase the volume. But if you can’t see the signs from the signer, you can’t enlarge the screen,” he said.
J-KOM previously sparked controversy due to its RM85.5 allocation in Budget 2021 under the name of Jasa.
Critics including several former ministers had questioned the amount before the budget was debated in the Dewan Rakyat, calling it excessive.
The allocation was later reduced to RM40.5 million.
Saifuddin also said the programmes implemented by the Pakatan Harapan administration would be continued by Perikatan Nasional according to the ministry’s 2019-2023 strategic plan.
“However, we reviewed this to ensure that it is in line with the Covid-19 situation,” he added.
“This means that the ministry has made several amendments and is focusing on one or two new things as well.”