The information department has dismissed speculation that the 14th General Election (GE14) is very near following the leak of a circular to all staff restricting them from leaving the country.
Its director-general Ibrahim Abdul Rahman clarified today that the circular was a “routine reminder” to staff to be prepared to face the impending polls.
He acknowledged that the internal document was issued by him but said it was not intended for other agencies and people outside the department.
“It does not involve all civil servants as has been spread,” he said in a statement.
“It is standard also for the circular to be issued a year before the end of the parliamentary term to remind all information department staff to be ready to face the general election when it is announced soon after,” he said.
He noted that the present parliament’s mandate ends in the middle of 2018 and many people anticipate the election will take place this year.
The circular stated that all government staff seek approval to leave the country either for official or personal reasons, he said.
He added that this was provided for under the circular “Pekeliling Am Bilangan 1 Tahun 2014” issued by the Public Services Department stipulating rules on civil servants’ personal travels outside the country.
He pointed out that it did not touch on holidays within the country, for which leave can still be sought from the respective departments and their directors.
The circular dated Feb 28 which has gone viral on social media, contains a reminder for staff to avoid travelling abroad for personal vacations and private dealings.
Ibrahim said it was issued to prevent staff from buying tickets for overseas travel, including making early purchases to take advantage of cheap air fares, when they may be required for department activities and official government programmes, he said.
He also noted that the department was one of the agencies under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry involved in the upcoming National Day celebrations, the Sea Games, the king’s coronation and other government activities.
He stressed that it is also the responsibility of the department to continually convey information on government policies.
The department’s responsibility included helping the Election Commission ensure the democratic process was observed smoothly during campaigning and polling, apart from educating the public on the procedures and methods for voting via the media and through personal communication prior to GE14, he said.
“The freeze does not involve those who have been offered to fulfil their haj or umrah,” he said, adding that an appeal to go overseas on extenuating circumstances would still be considered.
Source : @ FMT Online