August 24, 2012
The Hazards of Whistleblowing
by Iskandar Dzulkarnian@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com
What is a whistleblower? It is someone who blows a whistle. In sports, it’s a referee who won’t hesitate to blow the whistle when there is foul play. But in layman’s terms, it is someone who reveals a criminal act, be it corruption, graft or money laundering.
In Malaysia, we even have a Whistleblowers Act. It is enacted to protect whistleblowers from accidentally choking on their whistles. It also means that whistleblowers who reveal acts of crime and corruption will be given protection. Depending on the gravity and scale of the crime, whistleblowers may even be granted new identities, passports, new careers and relocated, sometimes in new countries.
But not everyone who blows a whistle will be protected under this Act. There are stringent rules to follow. Some of them are:
- The disclosure must be reported to an enforcement agency;
- The information must not be made public by the whistleblower himself; and
- His identity must be concealed.
The whistleblower cannot act alone and he cannot disclose any information to the public, and neither can he reveal his identity. It must be left to the enforcement agency to decide any action.
If he does not follow such protocols, he is completely on his own. Trying to be a hero, and going public will not protect him from powerful enemies out to silence him. Neither can he make use of any documentary evidence that may be classified to prove his findings.
Choose targets carefully
Documentary proof like leaked customer profiles that breaches the Banking and Financial Act or Official Secrets Acts can be used against him. Even his sources can be hauled up and prosecuted for abetting him.
The accused, the accursed and the criminals also have statutory rights, and are innocent before proven guilty. The law protects them from being blown apart by amateur whistleblowers who do not have rock-solid evidence. Flimsy evidence will be torn apart, and documentary evidence must not break any secretive laws drawn to protect the government.
Whistleblowers also have to pick and choose their targets carefully. Reporting to the police if one has evidence that their next door neighbour is a drug pusher and hoarding drugs is quite all right.
And blowing the whistle on the Makcik hawking nasi lemak with her young children at the roadside, but coming home to a million-ringgit bungalow, with a spanking new Mercedes is OK, as she might not be paying income tax on the millions she makes from the daily sales of the nasi lemak.
Even reporting the traffic Police or JPJ officers who try to ask for a RM30 bribe is all right. These same officers are also encouraged to blow the whistle on those who try to bribe them. So it is not surprising that there are cases of arrests from those who tried to offer a RM10 bribe for a broken front lamp on their motorbike.
Whistleblowers must draw the line when it comes to the government or VIPs with powerful government connections as it will be a losing battle. This category is even more powerful than the Mafia or the Yakuza. They also make very powerful enemies, and hide behind an army of lawyers who can make your life very miserable.
Rafizi and the NFC fiasco
One whistleblower extraordinaire is PKR’s strategy chief Rafizi Ramli who blew the NFC scandal wide open until the cows started mooing in distress, and resulted in some of their directors being charged, while the seemingly innocent wife had to resign her ministerial post in protest. It seems a man has taken over her ministerial post of women’s affairs for the time being.
But Rafizi was too bold and too confident. His public exposé has caused shocked and terrible embarrassment to the Federal government. Where is the government going to hide its face? In short, he has created many powerful enemies hell-bent to see him choke on his whistle.
Sad to say, the Whistleblowers Act has washed its hands of his plight after he was arrested as he failed to abide by the WhistleBlowers Act’s stringent rules.
In fact he, should have reported to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and allow them and Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail to handle such sensitive matters. Or at least sent a copy of the disclosure to the Agriculture Ministry to take further action.
His other disclosure on the RM1.18 billion LRT Ampang extension project has also caused many allegedly guilty parties trying to feign innocence. In this case, he should have referred his findings to PEMANDU or to the Minister of Transport Kong Cho Ha who is in better position to handle the matter.
If he should be convicted, MCA’s Ong Tee Keat may get a walkover in his Pandan constituency, as Rafizi is slated to contest there. Other PKR leaders that have been charged include Anwar Ibrahim, Azmin Ali and Badrul Hisham over the Bersih 3.0 incident. I am sure MP wannabes in their respective constituencies must be praying hard for a walkover against these three giants too!
Don’t believe the promises
Another whistleblower is none other than private investigator P Balasubramaniam (left) who tried to blow the cover of our Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak over the sickening Altantuya episode, by making a statutory declaration, only to retract it 24 hours later, and shipped himself to a far-off land.
The Whistleblowers Act was also helpless to give him any protection as his blow-job did not follow adequate guidelines. He has also alleged that he was offered RM5 million for his retraction, but only received a mere RM700,000 to date.
The moral of the story is that any person who aspires to have a blow-job as a whistle blower should seriously study the WhistleBlowers Act in detail, and do not try to blow the whistle without solid proof. Documentary evidence that is protected by the Official Secrets Act or Bank Negara enactments should not be tendered as evidence.
Only as a last resort should you make a statutory declaration, as it has lost much of its power to convince the judiciary of its effectiveness. Saw how they tried to jail one prominent blogger (right) who turned fugitive on a self-imposed exile?
And finally, if as a last resort you have to make a SD, make sure anyone that tries to offer you compensation to retract your SD are not shady characters.
Always, insist on cash upfront or else they will take you for a ride and short-change you later. Don’t believe in their sweet promises of luxury apartments, millions of ringgit in cash, government positions or promises of million-ringgit projects.