Sacked Jasa staff blame BN, Puad Zarkashi for dire straits

Jason Santos

SPECIAL Affairs Department (Jasa) contract workers who were sacked are crying foul, alleging they were not political appointees and only followed the instructions of their bosses.

In saying they were being victimised, they told The Malaysian Insight they were only lowly paid workers who were never involved in policymaking and simply followed instructions.

Jasa staff member Asrayani Sumasih has blamed her former bosses for using Jasa as a propoganda tool to achieve the goals of politicians from the Barisan Nasional administration. 

She said most Jasa officers were hired right out of college.

“Our starting salary was around RM1,600, and increments were based on the number of years put in.

“All of us were surprised when we got our termination letters on September 15. Some of us have appealed so that we may be absorbed elsewhere, but this is highly unlikely,” said the 38-year-old Sabahan.

Asrayani, who worked at Jasa for 11 years, said she had seen many of her colleagues leave the department to join politics over the years. 

The mother of two now fears for her own future as she will be out of a job on October 15. She said she planned to keep food on the table as a Grab driver until she could nail down a full-time job.

From speeches to Facebook ‘likes’ 

Originally, Jasa contract workers were required to document and file political and religious speeches, as well as reactions and sentiments towards them. 

“All speeches and comments were transcribed, down to the last word. It would then be filed and sent to Putrajaya.

“No one in the agency knew the purpose of collecting such data but soon realised they were for the use of politicians and those in Putrajaya,” she said.

She said their job scope was expanded when former Umno Supreme Council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi was made director-general and Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz director of strategic communication.

“We were not only asked to take down speeches and what the people were saying about the government, but also boost the popularity of some politicians. 

“This was done by the Jasa director-general himself, who wanted to be the Umno Batu Pahat candidate in the 14th general election. 

“More than 1,200 Jasa staff nationwide were ordered to ‘like, share and comment’ on Puad’s Facebook statuses and social media profiles. 

“They were also told to counter bad comments against him,” she said.

More than 1,200 Jasa staff nationwide were ordered to like, share and comment on former Umno Supreme Council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi's Facebook statuses and social media profiles, says a Jasa staff member. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, September 27, 2018.

To keep their jobs, the staff were also told to screenshot their work and file it along with their reports. 

Those who refused were booted out for not meeting their key performance indicator. 

It was learnt that an officer from Sabah lost his job for refusing to follow this instruction, arguing that his report on the views of Sabahans would not affect election results in Batu Pahat, Johor. 

Puad resigned as Jasa director-general just before GE14 after failing to be nominated as a candidate for the Batu Pahat seat.

Hard times ahead

When the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government took over Putrajaya, it announced that 17,000 political appointees would be phased out, including the 800-odd contract staff at Jasa.

The Jasa staff have now blamed Puad and his officers for their current predicament.

Jasa was seen as a propaganda tool of the previous BN administration. In the past, it received criticism from PH leaders and the public.

Mawan Ghapur, 28, who had just got a 30-year housing loan approved, said he will face difficulties servicing the loan.

“I have one child and my wife works as a clerk. She won’t be able to foot all the bills if I am out of work,” said the Jasa staff from Sabah.

“I am a Grab driver now, and I will take this up full-time from next month.”

Mawan said he believed up to 80% of Jasa staff will face hard times in the next three months if their appeals to be posted elsewhere are not entertained. 

“Most of us have all sorts of loans to service… house, car and even personal loans.

“I have been with Jasa for four years… I’m not sure how my family will surive,” he said. 

Another soon-to-be-unemployed Jasa staff member Zizi Hanifah said she had to put off plans to get married this year.

“Like my colleagues, all of us have financial commitments. 

“I also took a massive home improvement loan recently and that had taken a huge chunk of my salary,” said the 35-year-old, who has been with Jasa for six years. – September 27, 2018.

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  • Wonder if this qualifies as abuse of power?

    Posted 5 years ago by Johan Ariffin · Reply

  • Kudos to TMI for digging this up, hope we'll soon know how extensive these operations were, how much taxpayers' money was used etc. Please continue your excellent investigative and on-the-ground journalism and pressure the government to set up an RCI.

    Posted 5 years ago by Anak Kampung · Reply

  • The revelations justify the dissolution of JASA. Shocking in a democracy.

    Posted 5 years ago by Gerard Lourdesamy · Reply