The Star of Penang, Malaysia, reports that parliament there has passed a new Whistleblower Protection Bill. Unfortunately, the bill only protects informants who provide confidential information to the government. The Star rightfully inquired of the government why other disclosures would not be protected. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong answered, “We have to distinguish the matter involved in Balasubramaniam and Raja Petra’s case. They are not whistleblowers because they revealed their identity. They told the world who they were. A whistleblower is someone whose identity we don’t know.” Obviously, this is a narrow view of whistleblowing that I do not share.
Liew also told The Star that a person could not seek protection under the new Act when he exposed information to the media. He added that protection for the informant would be withdrawn if the informant exposed it to the media after disclosing the information to enforcement agencies. This view is contrary to the majority view in American courts: going to the media is often the most effective way to get the government to take action.