Malaysians leak information to the opposition, instead of going straight to the authorities, because there is "an issue with confidence" in the authorities, Transparency International-Malaysia says.
However, this situation renders the whistleblower vulnerable to repercussions as the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 only provides a shield for those who go straight to enforcement agencies.
"There is a weakness in the Act, and there is now a question as to whether those who blow the whistle (to parties) outside of enforcement agencies will be given protection," TI-M president Paul Low ( right ) said today.
Low said whistleblowers have provided information to opposition political parties instead as they feared their identity would be revealed or that they would receive a hostile reception from the enforcement agencies.
"They also have no confidence that their complaints will be investigated," he said when contacted.
In other countries, Low said, an independent agency is set up to receive all whistleblower complaints.
"We have the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), but it was not set up to receive complaints from whistleblowers," he added.
However, whistleblowing should not be done to gain publicity or politicise a matter, as in the case of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) exposes.
"For NFC, it was highly-politicised. If it was just to blow the whistle, the information would be revealed at once and not bit by bit," he said.
Low was commenting on de facto law minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz's statement to Parliament that protection could not be given to those who exposed information on the NFC scandal.
Nazri said PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli, who was at the forefront of the expose, was not a whistleblower, but a " trumpet-blower " as he had raised the red flag publicly.
'AG can choose who to prosecute'
Rafizi and a former bank employee have since been charged under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989 for exposing banking records of the NFC and its directors.
NFC chairperson Mohamad Salleh Ismail has since been charged with criminal breach of trust and violations of the Companies Act 1965.
Meanwhile, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee ( left ) said even if the Whistleblowers Act could not apply to Rafizi, the attorney-general still had "almost absolute discretion" on whether to charge Rafizi.
"Over and beyond the issue of technical compliance with the Act, the AG has almost absolute discretion in law in prosecution.
"One wonders whether this is an appropriate case for charges not to proceed because of the public interest served by Rafizi's public disclosure of the NFC scandal," Lim said in an email to Malaysiakini .
However, he added, Rafizi's team should seek to challenge the decision to prosecute the PKR leader "if it is able to show that he is, in fact and in law, a whistleblower".