06 October, 2007

Malaysians urgently need whistleblower protection and FOI Act

Malaysians urgently need whistleblower protection and FOI Act
by CIJ, 5 October 2007

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is deeply concerned about the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) threat to prosecute Opposition politicians Sivarasa Rasiah and Sim Tze Sin. The duo have been given a week to reveal the identity of a person who recorded a video implicating a senior lawyer in the fixing of senior judicial appointments.

English daily theSun, The Star and online daily Malaysiakini.com reported on 5 Oct that the duo were served notice by the ACA to reveal the identity of the person who recorded the video or face jail term or fine, or both under the Anti-Corruption Act 1997.

The ACA's main objective should be to investigate these serious claims, rather than investigating the identity of the whistleblower behind the video. Establishing the authenticity of the video is only one way of establishing whether the judicial appointment in question was subject to corrupt practices.

Further, there is no mention in the press that the ACA offered any protection for the whistleblower, while the investigation panel headed by former Chief Judge Haidar Mohd Noor lacks the power to protect any whistleblowers. This could be misconstrued as an attempt to expose the key person behind the video to potential danger.

Sivarasiah and Sim have cooperated with the ACA during questioning. The threat of jail is likely to deter potential whistleblowers, making it more difficult for the ACA to carry out investigations in the future.

We ask the ACA to publicly answer some serious questions that this move has raised, including why it is that the ACA has only exerted pressure on the whistleblower, while no action appears to have been taken against the people implicated in the video.

The public has high hopes that the ACA will uphold its responsibility to be independent, fair and transparent in its undertakings. We urge the ACA to immediately to answer and address the concerns raise above and institute measures for whistleblowers' protection before seeking to expose his/her identity.

Further, we urge the ACA to press the Government to pass both a Whistleblowers Protection Act and a Freedom of Information Act to institutionalise the protection of whistleblowers.

The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) aspires for a society that is democratic, just and free, where all people will enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek, and impart information.

Ends

Issued by

Centre for Independent Journalism


Meanwhile, accordilg to Malaysiakini, Gerakan has called on the government to “seriously consider” the setting up of a royal commission to investigate the explosive ‘judicial appointments fixing

The Bar Council has also reiterated its call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the video clip of a prominent lawyer purportedly fixing the appointment of top judges.

Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan said it has always been the stand of the Bar Councilset up recently "can only constitute the first step" in the wider process of ascertaining the facts and inferences. that an independent panel like the one that had been

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