KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — The government will rebrand the Department of Special Affairs (JASA) as the Department of Community Communications (JKOM) with different roles and functions, according to Minister of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM) Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
“The main objective of JKOM is 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 practice 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 of the Supply Bill 2021 for his ministry at the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.
Saifuddin also said that the functions of JKOM differed from that of Japen (Department of Information) as the main task of J-KOM right now is to implement strategic communication to promote the new normal following COVID-19.
Japen, on the other hand, he said was tasked to provide an understanding of government’s policies, programmes and initiatives to the public through, first and foremost, communications.
The minister said the functions of J-KOM will also not overlap with its brother agencies such as the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama), Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) and the Malaysian National Film Development Corporation (Finas) which have their own target groups, as well as different approach and activities.
When replying to Sim Tze Tzin (PH-Bayan Baru) on the allegation that J-KOM would be a propaganda agent, Saifuddin strongly refuted it and stressed that its director-general and deputy director-general will not be appointed among the politicians.
“I am giving 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 assurance that the director-general and deputy director-general of J-KOM will not be appointed among the politicians. They must be a combination of a professional and a good administrative officer with high credibility,” he said.
He said the candidates will have to also undergo the application and interview processes as stipulated by the PSD.
On the allocation of RM85.5 million given to the department, which was deemed too big, Saifuddin somehow 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 based on the number of parliamentary and state constituencies like previously.