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C4: Syed Saddiq expose shows need to strengthen whistleblowers law

 | October 6, 2017

Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism says whistleblower protection should be given immediately, not only after a report has been lodged with law enforcement agencies.

Cynthia-Gabriel_syed-saddi_600

PETALING JAYA: The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) has called for amendments to strengthen legislation governing the protection of whistleblowers, following reports that a PPBM Youth leader is being blackmailed with “sensitive” pictures.

C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said today that the Malaysian Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 (WPA) was insufficient to protect potential high-profile whistleblowers such as Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.

“Because public trust is low in our institutions, some whistleblowers choose to go public instead of immediately lodging it to the authorities.

“But because of the way our Whistleblower Protection Act has been written, Syed Saddiq has zero protection at all,” she said in a statement.

According to Gabriel, under Section 7 of the WPA, individuals are compelled to make a report with law enforcement agencies before any whistleblower protection against harm can be extended to them or their family.

However, she said this should not be the case as any public exposure of an intention to disclose improper conduct should automatically confer legal and police protection before any report is made.

On Tuesday, Syed Saddiq said he was being blackmailed to quit PPBM by certain quarters who had threatened to expose several “sensitive” pictures of him.

He said he believed this was due to his refusal to attack the PPBM leadership and also to pressure him to leave the country.

This followed his claim at a media conference on Monday that he had been offered RM5 million by a “senior adviser of the prime minister” to leave his party and take up post-graduate studies overseas.

Syed Saddiq subsequently lodged a police report over the threats but declined to reveal further details on the nature of the pictures.

Gabriel said C4 had previously made recommendations to empower whistleblowers and strengthen the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) ability to tackle corruption in the country.

The recommendations, which were submitted to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low on Aug 19, 2015, included amendments for whistleblowers to retain protection even if their identity is made public, and allowing whistleblowers to disclose information through other means such as the media, internet or lawyers.

C4 also recommended that an independent statutory body such as the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) evaluate whether the whistleblower should be extended protection.

Urging the police to take immediate action over high-profile whistleblower cases such as Syed Saddiq’s expose, Gabriel said those who were concerned over the PPBM Youth leader’s integrity should turn to other forms of legal recourse only after the conclusion of MACC’s investigations.

“We call on the public to strongly condemn all such threats against anti-corruption work regardless of political affiliation, and to stand in solidarity with all whistleblowers,” she said.


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