PETALING JAYA: Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong has hit out at the Department of Special Affairs (Jasa) for spreading fake news after it repeated an accusation against DAP which was earlier disproven.
In a statement today, he said Jasa is tasked with providing accurate information to the public and suggested that the department be abolished if it only served the political interests of Barisan Nasional (BN).
This was after Jasa issued an update through its WhatsApp chat group yesterday, repeating the claim of Johor state exco Jais Sarday who, together with Muar MP Razali Ibrahim, said Liew and a Pakatan Harapan delegation had been attacked at a Ramadan bazaar on June 10 because in 2007, DAP had protested and called for the bazaar to be relocated.
However, Liew said it was MCA, not DAP, that had been behind the move to shut down the bazaar at the time.
He said former MCA state assemblyman for Mengkibol, Gan Peng Sieu, had led the protest and made representations to the district officer.
In a statement on June 13, Gan acknowledged that he had done so but said he was only acting out of his duty as a state assemblyman.
“In 2007, it was my duty as an assemblyman to voice the legitimate concerns of traders in town over the suitability of the venue and the alternative venues available for the pasar Ramadan,” he said.
Liew, who is Johor DAP chairman, said Jasa’s act of repeating the claim against DAP despite Gan’s admission was made in bad faith.
“That Umno could use the propaganda machinery of the government to facilitate false accusations and perpetuate falsehood against its political rivals, shows the classless depths to which its abuse of power has reached,” he said.
Noting that Jasa had been given an annual operating budget exceeding RM20 million, he said it was “unfortunate” that millions of ringgit in national funds was used to spread fake news.
“If it is being used in such a manner, Jasa does not benefit the people but only serves the political purposes of BN.
“Such a department should be abolished in order to trim unnecessary expenses, so that the government can spend more on the matters that really benefit the ordinary people, including education, healthcare, and public transport.”
Jasa’s operating budget for 2017 is RM22,886,500. This is RM85,500 more than the RM22,801,000 allocated in 2016, and some RM1 million more than the 21,718,100 given in 2015.
Liew also called on Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak to instruct Jasa, which is under the purview of his ministry, to stop circulating fake news “as fodder for political accusations”.