C4 Center-POI joint seminar examines the state of whistleblower protection in corporate Malaysia

PRESS STATEMENT

𝟏𝟐 𝐀𝐔𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐓 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏

C4 Center-POI joint seminar examines the state of whistleblower protection in corporate Malaysia

A seminar jointly organised by the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) and the Promise of Integrity alliance (POI) highlighted the importance of proper whistleblower protection in the private sector, providing together major stakeholders in the public, legal, and private sector a platform for discourse.

Titled “Whistleblowers’ Vital Role to Stem Corruption in the Workplace: Is there enough protections within and outside the company structure?”, the event saw the presentation of C4 Center’s research findings on the current state of whistleblower protection in Malaysia, as well as a presentation and forum featuring a panel of experts.

“Whistleblowing is vitally important in protecting the organisation and the community through combating corruption, fraud, and misconduct that otherwise may remain unexposed,” shared Dato’ P’ng Soo Hong, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations and Managing Director of First Solar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, in his welcome remarks, on behalf of POI.

POI is an alliance consisting of B. Braun, Boston Scientific, Celestica, First Solar, Intel, Jabil, Keysight Technologies, Manpower Group, Motorola Solutions, and SilTerra Malaysia, that believes in transforming the supply chain into a globally competitive business environment by enabling the highest standards of ethics and integrity, which would pave the way to greater social and economic prosperity.

“Whistleblowers create an ethical environment, and should not face reprisals or retributions, but yet, the reality is that this is an extremely dangerous task in the environment we operate in today,” said Cynthia Gabriel, Executive Director of C4 Center, during her opening note.

The event saw a keynote address by National Centre For Governance, Integrity

and Anti Corruption (GIACC) Deputy Director General Farah Adura Hamidi as well. She spoke about the corruption risk assessment process, and provided an overview of Malaysia’s current efforts into good corporate governance.

“Whistleblowers in the real world have no protection, many of whom risk their jobs, their families, and their lives, to report wrongdoing, and they need to be protected,” said Farah, adding that whistleblowers should not be feared or deemed detrimental by the private sector.

Following that was a presentation by Farizal Muzaffar Hafiz Abdul Wahab, Senior Manager of the Integrity and Discipline Department at Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (MRCB), seconded from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the climate and statistics on whistleblowing in Malaysia, and shared on the challenges faced in the implementation of whistleblower protection, and the operations side of the protection.

“The majority of fraud is captured through whistleblowing, as whistleblowers are often close to the action and have the most information,” shared Farizal, adding that relationships have to be established and fostered between potential whistleblowers and the authorities.

C4 Center’s research findings were presented by Legal Consultant Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, which examined the state of whistleblower protection among corporate entities from a legal perspective.

“We have cases where whistleblowers get dismissed from their jobs for reporting corruption in their organisation, and they should not be facing that kind of action for exercising their right as a whistleblower,” said Fadiah.

The panel was graced by Boston Scientific’s Legal and Compliance Senior Manager for the Asia Pacific Region, Jye Mei Wong; Intel’s Asia Regional Compliance Counsel, John Chung; Legal Director of the Government Accountability Project, Tom Devine; Staff Attorney and Director of the International Program of the Government Accountability Project, Samantha Feinstein; Partner of Nadzarin Kuok Puthucheary & Tan, Advocates & Solicitors, Joachim Xavier; and Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce & Industry Board Member, Dr KM Loi.

Over the course of the panel presentation, the panellists, moderated by C4 Center’s Cynthia Gabriel, discussed the need for adequate whistleblower laws in Malaysia, touching on various topics such as the realities of Section 17A of the MACC act from a corporate perspective, the code of conduct for companies, and whistleblower mechanisms in place.

Fraud and corruption are among the corporate crimes that stand as the primary obstacles to sustainable socio-economic development, and Malaysia is not exempt from this.

Weaknesses in addressing corruption in the private sector undermines governance, leading to adverse effects for fair competition, domestic and foreign investments, and loss of future

business, with consumers and the general public bearing the cost of this corruption through higher-priced goods and sub-par services.

The insertion of Section 17A to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 allowed for the prosecution of commercial organisations when an associated person engages in corruption to obtain or retain business, or to seek an advantage, with the provision allowing for the prosecution beyond the employees or agents taking part in that corrupt practice.

Many companies,especially the small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to cope with the requirement of S.17A, and some of them might not even be aware of this provision. There is a need to examine the experiences and understand the challenges of companies in their efforts to comply with the amendment and to learn from the best practices of reputable multinational companies.

With the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 deemed inadequate in providing protection to whistleblowers, there comes a need to bring the stakeholders together, and understand from the perspective of the business community what can be done to improve the act.

“It is time for Malaysia to move forward and ensure that whistleblowers are strongly protected in this country, in order to encourage and nurture whistleblower culture, so that they feel safe in blowing the whistle,” said Sudhagaran Stanley, Programme Manager of C4 Center, in his closing remarks.

END

Released by:
Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Center)
For further enquiries, please contact 012-379 2189 / 03-7660 5140

Promise of Integrity (POI)
For further enquiries, please contact 016-422 4818
Visit POI’s website.

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