Strengthening Public Service Delivery: Stronger + Broader + Assured Protection for All Whistleblowers (e.g., in Schools)

By:

Fiqah Roslan

Affiliations:

The Tiada.Guru Campaign

Policy Code:

3d Anti corruption

Problem Statement:

Whistleblower Protection is sorely lacking in Malaysia: the public service does not feel at all protected by MACC nor their internal Ministry departments if they report misconduct or corruption. Over 60% of teachers do not feel safe reporting corruption or misconduct. In 11 years, MACC has only ever filed one charge (1) with the Whistleblower Protection Act.

In the education sector, for example, the Ministry of Education (MOE) controls over 419,000 public servants, predominantly teachers. In most school-based abuse/negligence/misconduct cases, teachers & students are the primary witnesses and often well-aware of the MOE’s long-term SOP & law violations. However, if teachers blow the whistle—as required by the Public Officers Regulations 1993 and/or MACC Act 2009—in the vast majority of cases, these teacher whistleblowers are threatened, pressured, and harassed.

This is a direct result of there being no separation and independence between perpetrators and whistleblowers because it is often the whistleblower’s superior who both receives the complaint and determines the outcome. That same superior has full control over the whistleblower and may institute transfers, disciplinary actions, even dismissal arising from complaints being raised, rather than offering protection to the whistleblower.

Currently, internal disciplinary investigations do not afford any legal whistleblower protection, reminds Abu Kassim Mohamad (Director-General of the Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre); witnesses are likewise frequently warned to not assist criminal / civil litigation. According to whistleblower surveys and survivor testimony, hundreds of school misconduct investigations were shut down because the MOE claimed “no evidence against the teacher, so we cannot take action” when in fact, of course, corrupt MOE officers instead threatened witnesses and fabricated evidence.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

In the context of schools, only once teachers, students, staff, and parents are legally protected as whistleblowers will the true extent of damage be revealed, and we can take remedial actions to prevent the cycle of corruption. Whistleblowers ensure corruption is accepted by all as serious violations of law—not trivialized or propagandized through terms such as “issues”, “complaints”, “internal matters”, and / or “concerns”.

Proposal of Solution:

Whistleblower protection must be significantly increased for all public servants - but especially in cases of child abuse, child neglect, sexual harassment/assault against minors, this protection must also be extended to school staff, students, and parents. The scope of protection & consequences against retaliation must correct the enormous power imbalance between adult perpetrators and minors (e.g., marginalised communities, OKU, Orang Asli, migrants, B40 groups).

It is urgent and critical that whistleblower protection be provided by an independent Public Ombudsman with powerful firewalls against Legislative and Executive interference.

Thus, through an eventual independent Public Ombudsman, we plead for upgraded protection for all witnesses of school-based misconduct:
 be allowed to submit whistleblower reports + evidence confidentially and be only required to reveal themselves (if required) during a formal disciplinary, civil, or criminal proceeding.
 be allowed to consult lawyers without restriction both within the Ombudsman structure and external legal sources without any penalty against their protection.
 be given protection without any restrictions from other legislation (e.g., OSA, Sedition Act, Penal Code 203A), motivation, or types of disclosure.
 be incentivized with monetary compensation (and for staff/teachers: Sasaran Kerja Tahunan scores + promotion opportunities)
 if the victims are minors [or other protected categories], all damages/rewards are automatically tripled.
 If the alleged misconduct / crime reported by the whistleblower is of a heinous, violent, sexual, or widespread nature, all damages / awards are automatically tripled.

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