How to ensure the right steps in the Whistleblowing Process in Malaysia
WHISTLEBLOWING is an act of disclosing information of corruption and malpractices within an organisation or a workplace.
In most cases, information can be sensitive, leading to potential harm to the whistleblower. Hence, the whistleblower protection has been established by many governments to encourage informants to come out and help combat the scourge of corruption.
The Malaysian Parliament passed the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 in May 2010 and the Act came into force on Dec 15 the same year, in a major initiative under the Corruption National Key Results Area (NKRA) of the Government Transformation Plan (GTP).
It is aimed at providing protection to whistleblowers who gave information of corrupt practices in the public and private sectors.
In order to receive protection, it has to be ensured that the complaint is made to an officer of an enforcement agency.
The five key enforcement agencies are the Royal Malaysian Police Force, Royal Malaysian Customs Department, Road Transport Department, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Immigration Department of Malaysia.
Other agencies include institutions such as the Securities Commission, Bursa Malaysia and the Companies Commission of Malaysia, which are of particular significance to whistleblowers from the corporate sector.
Whistleblower protection cannot be given if a complaint is made to a government agency that is not defined as an “enforcement agency”.
If a complaint is made to a proper agency, the receiving officer is obliged to take down the report in writing and provide the informant with a case reference number.
The complaint must also be made to the relevant enforcement agency, for instance, if it involves a JPJ officer but has to do with the taking of bribes, the right agency would be the MACC.
Besides lodging a report in person, it is possible to make a report via phone, e-mail, fax or letters.
The receiving officer must be able to contact and meet the informant personally to open an official case file.
The complainant must also be made identifiable as whistleblower protection cannot be given to an anonymous source.
There is no central management or authority that governs the implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010.
This is to ensure greater flexibility for all enforcement agencies in implementing the whistleblower framework within their existing governance structures.
Furthermore, a decentralised model helps increase the likelihood of successful protection and secrecy as well as prevents reprisals.
The key enforcement agencies will work together to ensure the implementation of the policy is effective.
However, the terms of the Act are specific. Protection can only be given when the information is received by an officer of an enforcement agency confidentially.
The whistleblower will not be granted protection and will be putting themselves in a precarious position if they choose to in- form others of their decision to make a complaint.