Proposed Whistleblower Act amendment to be presented in December

The govt welcomes any proposals and feedback from all parties with regards to Act 711

pic by TMR FILE

FINDINGS from the review on the proposed amendments for the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 (Act 711) will be presented to the Cabinet ministers next month.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (picture) said seven issues under the act are still being reviewed by the Working Committee on Amendments to Act 711 to improve protections provided to whistleblowers and curb corruption cases especially those involving high profile individuals.

“The findings of the study for the proposed improvement of Act 711 will be presented to the Cabinet ministers in December 2021.

“The government welcomes any proposals and feedback from all parties with regards to Act 711,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday during the Minister’s Question Time.

To date, a total of 73,545 complaints have been filed under the act since 2011, with only 527 individuals having received protection for the disclosure.

The minister said the statistics reflected the flaws present in Act 711, based on guidelines given by the United Nations (UN) Conventions Against Corruption.

“The statistics show that some provisions of the act or its implementation have some shortfalls,” said Wan Junaidi.

He was responding to a query from Port Dickson MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who requested for the government to state the proposed review on the act and its effectiveness in protecting whistleblowers who exposed misconduct by high profile individuals.

Based on the data provided by the enforcement department, the highest number of complaints recorded was in 2012 at 14,007 with only 98 individuals being given protection.

He further highlighted that in 2015, the department received 12,527 complaints but only four people received protection under the act.

“We hope to improve the existing laws in relation to the act. There also needs to be political will to enhance the system and combat corruption cases that implicate government officers or politicians.

“We can amend the laws but without political will, we would not be able to achieve what we strive for,” he added.

Wan Junaidi said several engagements with stakeholders were held including discussions with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and Government Accountability Project for the proposed amendment.

A working committee was also formed to review, evaluate and set parameters based on the proposed amendment and improvement that were received from various stakeholders.

“Members of the committee include members from the enforcement agencies, state agencies and departments, private firm and government-linked companies as well as civil society organisations and NGOs,” said Wan Junaidi.

Among the seven issues that were raised for a review include the definition of “inappropriate misconduct” under Section 2 Act 711 which is too broad and vague.

The act also does not recognise internal complaint mechanisms formed in an organisation that is not an enforcement agency to be accepted as the legitimate channel for disclosure on misconducts.

Another provision under the act that requires improvement is Section 11(1)(a) which states enforcement agencies can revoke the protection for whistleblowers if the individual is found to be involved in the disclosed misconduct.