KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Territory Information Department has defended itself against criticism on social media over its Budget 2021 public announcements, with its director pointing out that it ran such broadcasts last year as well.
A video of one of the department’s vans telling the public about the benefits of the budget at a wet market in Taman Tun Dr Ismail on Saturday attracted a barrage of negative comments on Twitter, with several slamming the messages as propaganda and stating they were a waste of public funds.
Some users also questioned the timing of the broadcasts ahead of a crucial budget vote on Thursday which, if rejected, could result in the resignation of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his Cabinet.
“This Info On Wheels programme officially started in January this year. However, the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory Information Department carried out a pilot project in 2019 when we disseminated information about this year’s budget,” the department’s director, Erwin Khairul Ahmad, told FMT.
“We are also active on social media and YouTube, and there are other government channels like RTM and Bernama which provide this same information,” he said.
The Info On Wheels’ Budget 2021 programme kicked off on Nov 8 in the 11 parliamentary constituencies in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. The department’s other public announcements include educating the public about Covid-19, the movement control order and related SOPs.
In the video on Saturday’s programme at the TTDI wet market, the van’s megaphone could be heard explaining that the budget was drafted based on three main objectives: the people’s welfare, business continuity and economic resilience.
“The objectives and strategies are to ensure that the livelihoods of the people are protected and the country’s economy continues to sustain itself even as it is hit by Covid-19.”
One Twitter user did not agree with the vehicle “blaring messages from the government” about the benefits of the budget instead of educating the public about Covid-19.
“What a dystopia we live in. I wish it were a nightmare,” said @nauwarshukri.
“So easily wasting the money I pay in taxes…,” said @nash_71, another Twitter user.
Among the other comments on the video, which was posted on the department’s Twitter feed, are “shameful”, “pathetic” and “an act of desperation”.