Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 30th January 2013
That the Barisan Nasional (BN) government abuses state resources for its own political programmes and propaganda is no longer surprising to most Malaysians. That a former two-term UMNO state assemblyman, Dato’ Fuad Hassan, would be appointed, in 2009, as the Director General of the Department of Special Affairs or Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas (JASA) under the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, is also no longer surprising.
JASA is nothing more than a taxpayers-funded propaganda arm of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, costing the public a wasteful RM23 million as it has been allocated in the 2013 budget. The widely reported recent statement by Fuad Hassan at the Johor Social Media Partner gathering where he answered, “God willing… BN could obtain a two-third victory in the upcoming general election if we continue to work hard and strive to achieve what was targeted” clearly shows the political bias as well as the political objectives of this senior civil servant. In April 2012, Fuad Hassan was also reported as saying that JASA, in cooperation with other government agencies such as KEMAS, works in order to strengthen the BN coalition for the general election.
In fact, JASA makes no attempt to even hide its political objectives and bias. According to its website, JASA’s motto is “Memimpin Pendapat Rakyat (Leading Public Opinions) ke arah menyokong Kerajaan melalui gagasan 1 Malaysia.” JASA’s mission clearly degrades the professionalism and integrity of civil servants, the majority of whom want to serve the people without having to involve themselves in the work of defending the record of the BN government and using underhanded tactics to attack the opposition. I am sure that most of the 1,300 civil servants who currently work in JASA would be glad to serve the people of Malaysia in other capacities in other ministries or departments.
Even the activities organized by JASA to increase support for the Gagasan 1 Malaysia concept have resulted in spectacular failures and done more harm than good to societal harmony. In a Rapat 1 Malaysia gathering organized by JASA in Feb 2010 (which featured a former UMNO ADUN, Datuk Hj Zainal bin Hj Sakom and lecturer and columnist Dr. Ridhuan Tee) the keynote speaker, Dato’ Nasir Safar, then special officer to Prime Minister Najib, was reported to have said that ‘Indians are beggars’ and ‘Chinese, especially the women, came to Malaysia to sell their bodies’.
Finally and most troubling is our discovery that JASA has most likely been embarking on an aggressive voter registration exercise nationwide to place phantom voters on the electoral roll, including voters who are not born in Malaysia who are registered in urban areas without house addresses and street names such as Kampung Melayu Majidee in Johor Baru, Kampung Sri Gombak Indah in Gombak and Kampung Baharu Ampang in Ampang.
As part of the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP), my team and I have found thousands of such cases – voters not born in Malaysia registered in urban areas without house numbers and street names by a government agency – who were likely registered by JASA and KEMAS. That the BN government is attempting to duplicate its Project IC efforts through agencies like JASA and KEMAS, in cahoots with the Election Commission (EC) and the National Registration Department (NRD), should not be surprising in light of the recent evidence given by former civil servants in the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
It is likely that Azrul Azwar, chief economist of Bank Islam, was suspended on the basis that he gave a favorable scenario for Pakatan Rakyat to win the next general election in a forum organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore. Azrul was giving his professional argument that was backed up by comparisons in the increase in the number and percentage of new voters since the 2008 general elections. If Azrul, who is not even a civil servant, was suspended for giving his professional opinion as an economist, then Fuad Hassan should be sacked from the ranks of the civil service for his overt role as Chief propagandist for the BN, which is clearly demonstrated by the events and activities JASA organizes, the speakers which JASA invites to its events and the materials which JASA prints and distributes.
Furthermore, Fuad Hassan should be investigated for his possible role in giving illegal immigrants ICs and registering them as voters. This action is far more dangerous and threatening to the security of the country than anything which Azrul Azwar had done in his capacity as Chief Economist in Bank Islam.
Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist