By Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye
KOTA KINABALU: The reported move to amend the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2010 must be welcomed because it is a signal that the authorities are stepping up efforts to combat corruption.
While the Act so far has been able to give some protection to those who report cases of alleged wrongdoing in public service, it has its weak spots and shortcomings.
Since 2011, there have been over 73,000 whistleblower complaints, but only 527 of the whistleblowers had received protection under the law.
This is indeed a dismal figure.
The weaknesses must be addressed to give the Act more teeth, the informants more confidence to come forward, and for the further assurance that the proper goals are pursued to combat this pernicious crime of corruption.
It has been reported that the Act has had a measure of success but it is important to also know the number of cases in which the informants had failed to get the much-needed protection.
The authorities should now reveal the causes of these failures, and the shortcomings of the Act that should be amended and strengthened.
While loopholes in this Act are being addressed, it is also important to review other laws which could negate the efforts of whistleblowers.
One such act is the Official Secrets Act which can impose severe restrictions to the reporting of cases of corruption in the civil service.
It has also been noted that there is a need to give more publicity to the Whistleblowers Protection Act so that more and more people can be encouraged to come forward with information and important leads on graft and power abuse.
Graft busters have long been cognizant of the weaknesses of the Act and are now swift to welcome amendments.
It is imperative that their views be solicited before amendments are tabled in Parliament in due course.
Suggestions should also be solicited from the public and civil society.
We are all fully aware that where corruption is endemic, we need to wield the big stick to discourage it. Corruption must never be tolerated.
ALLIANCE FOR SAFE COMMUNITY