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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Whistleblower Act won't shield NFC 'trumpet-blowers'

Protection under the Whistleblower Act for persons leaking information on corruption will not apply to those exposing alleged abuse of government funds in the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal, says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz.

“In the NFC case, he is not a whistleblower, he is a trumpet-blower. There is no protection for trumpet-blowers.
“The basis is secrecy, which is an important element. If he trumpets it to the entire world, everyone knows that it is him... what protection does he need?” the de facto law minister told the Dewan Rakyat during Question Time today.
“Secondly, we must understand that the Act cannot protect those who break the law. It only protects whistleblowers.
“If he contravened the Banking and Financial Institution Act (Bafia), we cannot give protection to him as he is an offender.”
The 'he' referred to is Rafizi Ramli, the PKR director of strategy, who has been charged under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act for disclosing the financial statements of the NFC.
The opposition have accused that the charges against the PKR official are an attempt to silence him, though this was denied by authorities.

NONENazri (right) said this in answer to a supplementary question from Khalid Ibrahim (PKR-Bandar Tun Razak), who wanted to know why the people who exposed alleged mismanagement in the national feedlot project were not accorded legal protection, after answering the MP’s main question on the kinds of legal protection available under the Whistleblower Act.

The federal minister added that he often sees Rafizi coming to Parliament itself to hold press conferences on NFC and as such he believes, the latter’s disclosures were neither secret nor does he seem to warrant any protection.

‘Number one law minister’

Nazri also joked that if opposition MPs do not understand about the secrecy element involved in the Whistleblower Act, they can approach him outside the Dewan and seek his explanation as he is “the number one law minister” that no one can replace.

His comment drew snickers from Pakatan parliamentarians, which he waved off as manifestation of their jealousy of his “number one” position.

In answer to another supplementary question from Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan), the de facto law minister said that corruption exposes aside, whistleblowers are not allowed to leak state secrets as specified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and confidential financial information protected under Bafia.

Such information, he explained, cannot be exposed even if the whistleblowers do not know about it as “ignorance of the law is no defence”.

Nazri also advised opposition MPs, whom he said are fond of exposing sensitive information, to read the OSA and Bafia carefully so that they do not take a wrong step and be charged in court for it.

Bung Mokhtar had wanted to know if there are any limits to the kind of information that whistleblowers can disclose.

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