PUTRAJAYA: A letter issued by the Information Department that it has frozen all personal overseas trips for staff effective May 1, is an internal circular.
The memo, dated Feb 28, was uploaded to a social media account and has gone viral on platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.
The letter states that all Information Department officers and staff will have their personal overseas trips frozen to prepare for the 14th general election.
Information Department director-general Datuk Ibrahim Abd Rahman said the circular was sent to remind officers wishing to go abroad for private holidays or personal matters to make their applications in advance.
"This is to avoid staff (being absent) when the department needs them to focus on the department's activities and official government programmes.
"The department is involved in various national activities, which include National Day, the SEA Games, the King’s coronation, advocacy activities, public engagement and government's policy marketing.
"It is the responsibility of the department to help the Election Commission in ensuring a smooth democratic process by running the voting campaigns and educating the public on voting procedures and methods through the media," he said in a statement today.
Ibrahim added that it is the department's ultimate responsibility to disseminate information on the government's policies.
"It is normal to issue such a circular a year before Parliament is dissolved to remind all staff to be prepared for the election.
"Some personnel and officers (would) reserve flight tickets a year before the date of their flight because of the cheap rate. When their leave application is not approved, they will appeal using the excuse that they have booked their flight tickets.
"Due to the busy schedule and many official programmes organised by the government and department, the circular to freeze personal overseas trips is only meant for Information Department staff. It does not involve other civil servants," he said.
Ibrahim said staff can still travel domestically, and can apply to do so through their respective division heads and directors.
He said the freeze will not affect those who have been offered to perform haj or umrah.
"And for those who need to go overseas for (important or emergency) reasons, (their applications) can still be considered based on merit. For instance, the death of family members," Ibrahim added.