LETTER | Decades of silenced pleas, reports, and scandals: We, the public service whistleblowers, have waited on similar yet discarded promises.
No more excuses: The lights must be turned on every corner of Malaysia. Today’s historic unity cabinet can and must reset Malaysians’ shared destiny by immediate legal protection of our country’s heroes, its whistleblowers.
Whistleblowers paid the price when the cabinets of 2013 (Najib Abdul Razak), 2018 (Dr Mahathir Mohamad), 2020 (Muhyiddin Yassin), and 2021 (Ismail Sabri Yaakob) irresponsibly ignored the public service’s pleas.
Instead, they left our future generations with trillion-ringgit blindspots, high-risk corruptible public institutions, and a poor quality of life—destined to stagnate—for ordinary Malaysians.
Whistleblowers can unite the nation rapidly, visibly, and sustainably. We can create positive reinforcement loops that directly solve entrenched failures in every district.
Whistleblowers inspire other whistleblowers. We are on the ground where MPs are not. In schools, hospitals, police offices, administrative departments, and each and every level of Ministries.
Malaysia’s lack of whistleblower protection is a scandal. Who benefits when thousands of whistleblowers are attacked while politicians and senior public service officers refuse complete and independent legal protection?
Malaysia’s status quo for whistleblowers is an international disgrace and a public humiliation. A class of rotten apples at the top have traded millions of Malaysians’ progress for their own personal wealth, power, and immunity.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s whistleblower heroes are approaching extinction, unable to expose massive civil and criminal scandals, stunning inequality, and eye-watering leakages.
This unity cabinet must immediately take prescriptive and legal reforms to protect whistleblowers who chose the nation’s truth and prosperity over their safety.
Most of Malaysia’s endangered whistleblowers cannot trust the executive branch to offer serious, expedient, and fair whistleblower protection.
Thus, the unity cabinet must establish a public ombudsman, a “people’s defender” that investigates severe misconduct among civil servants and offers a one-stop resource for whistleblowers’ protection, investigation, and disciplinary or legal actions.
The most serious cases must be investigated independently. Only a public ombudsman can provide that safety guarantee.
First, each ministry must issue and execute a circular, with immediate effect, that:
(1) States any informal or formal retaliation against a whistleblower is one of the highest disciplinary offences and will no longer be tolerated;
(2) States that protection of alleged disciplinary, civil, or criminal offenders is a type of illegal gratification under MACC Act 2009 and will be prosecuted, and;
(3) Automatically protects against disciplinary retaliation if whistleblowers testify in a civil or criminal court proceeding.
Second, Parliament must immediately draft, collaborate on, and pass critical amendments to the nation’s laws with retroactive effect to:
(1) Remove contradictory, intentionally ambiguous anti-whistleblower provisions that silence disclosures such as Section 19 Public Officers Regulations & Discipline 1993; 203A-Penal Code; Sedition Act 1948; Official Secrets Act 1972;
(2) Extend civil as well as criminal protection to victims, families, and witnesses, and;
(3) Amend significant portions of the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 to allow whistleblowers to obtain legal advice without losing protection ( Section 3a) and allow a report to entities beyond the executive branch without losing protection (Section 3b).
For example, this includes court proceedings, Suhakam, self-application, and writing to the media.
Third, Parliament must establish a public ombudsman outside the executive branch that:
(1) Receives, investigates, offers whistleblower protection, and takes legal or disciplinary action in severe public service misconduct cases;
(2) Its budget is to be a percentage of the federal budget;
(3) Its key Commissioners should be drawn from legal societies, good governance CSOs as well as research institutions, and subject-matter experts (e.g., health, children, environment);
(4) Former and current public servants, as well as politicians, must be excluded due to a perceived or actual conflict of interest with investigations into the public service, and;
(5) Has specific departments focused on marginalised populations: rural or poor communities, Orang Asli, East Malaysia, people with disabilities, elderly, children, and women.
This unity cabinet must deliver tangible, clear results that outlast their tenure and apply broadly to all Malaysians in the peninsula, Sabah, and Sarawak.
To effectively dismantle corruption and establish decades-strong reform in Malaysia’s ministries, agencies, institutions, and all public services, we can only start with rakyat-centric institutional reforms.
A civil service can make or break a government. A covered-up government scandal can fracture a nation.
Profound, independent, and rapid protection of whistleblowers is a universally-loved reform with prominent, widespread, and immediate benefits.
Nothing can justify a delay. Without whistleblowers, all reform is likely to be on paper only; otherwise delayed and made ineffectual.
No policy, ministry, or government institution in Malaysia is safe until Malaysia’s whistleblowers are safe.
Each cabinet accepts the legal responsibilities of the federal government’s past, current, and future scandals.
Thus, today’s unity cabinet is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dismantle corruption, abuse, misconduct, leakages, and other universally-hated traits of Malaysian life.
The Tiada.Guru Campaign humbly submits this joint statement as a letter to the editor on whistleblower protection. It is authored by the Tiada.Guru Campaign, represented by Fiqah Roslan and Sharmila Sekaran, and co-signed by these individuals as well as organisations:
Former Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto
Saiful Nizam, father of Ain Husniza
Persatuan Pengundi Muda (UNDI18)
The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center)
Freedom Film Network
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Save The Schools MY
Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE)
Agora Society Malaysia
Pertubuhan Pembangunan Kendiri Wanita dan Gadis (WOMEN:girls)
Rangkaian Solidariti Demokratik Pesakit Mental (SIUMAN)
Society for Equality, Respect And Trust for All Sabah (SERATA)
Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY)
Justice for Sisters
Monsters Among Us
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.