Shock over PJ council’s policy of disclosing complainant’s identity

Cynthia Hor filed a complaint with MBPJ over fears of a landslide occurring at a construction site near her house in Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya.

PETALING JAYA: The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) has been criticised for revealing confidential details of a resident to a developer against whom she had filed a complaint over construction work near her house.

Cynthia Hor, a resident of Damansara Perdana, was shocked to find that her full name and address had been given in a letter by the council’s Engineering Department, demanding an explanation from the developer, Mammoth Empire Holding Sdn Bhd.

“Did they have to disclose my name and home address?” she asked.

Hor said this was a violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, which provides protection to those who voluntarily come forward to report wrongdoings.

The act among others prohibits the disclosure of a complainant’s confidential information, including the name and address.

“I only wanted MBPJ to come and check if what I see could be a trigger to a possible landslide,” Hor told FMT.

“Each time it rains, I see a little more vegetation disappear. I was worried that if that area is prone to a massive landslide, someone needs to do something about it.”

Hor questioned MBPJ’s intention in disclosing her name and address to the developer, saying it served no purpose in the investigation.

A copy of the letter was also sent to her.

The letter from MBPJ to developer Mammoth Empire Holding Sdn Bhd, complete with Cynthia Hor’s full name and address.

Hor said if MBPJ could not guarantee the confidentiality of a complainant, “nobody will come forward to do their civic duty”.

“It is no different from a person lodging a report about his neighbour who is abusive, and when the authorities decide to take action, they disclose who made the report,” she said.

But MBPJ’s Engineering Department director, Ismail Shafie, said there was nothing wrong in disclosing the name and home address of a complainant.

Ismail told MBPJ councillor Sean Oon that the developer needed to know who the complainant was “in order to verify the legitimacy of the location”.

“He also said this was not a personal complaint, but a complaint that involves the public, therefore there is no issue in disclosing the identity of the complainant.

“He obviously does not understand the concept of respecting a complainant’s privacy. In this case, Cynthia acted as a whistleblower and her identity should be protected,” Oon told FMT.

Oon said MBPJ should have asked Hor’s permission before revealing her identity to the developer.

“Is this how they treat every complainant who lodges a report with MBPJ? Is this their standard operating procedure?

“If this is how they handle whistleblowers, I’m afraid not many people will dare come forward to voice their complaints in the future, for fear of their identity being disclosed in this manner and jeopardising their safety,” he said.

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