Whistleblower Protection – the danger of a bad example

We’ve finally found the legal instrument from which Article 52 (1d) was copied, and it’s as bad an example as we suspected

IMAGE: mykmu.net

IMAGE: Rafizi Ramli @ mykmu.net

Why do Namibian legal drafters use poorly-drafted and much-criticised laws from other countries as models for our law-making?

A case in point is the Ministry of Justice’s use of the Malaysian Whistleblower Protection Act as a basis for our own draft law currently before parliament.

The Ministry of Justice’s legal drafters decided to copy and paste Section 11 of the Malaysian law – which becomes Section 52 in our Whistleblower Protection Bill. This is the section that states a whistleblower’s protection can be withdrawn if he or she is critical of government policy when making a disclosure.

Malaysia falls below Namibia on most global governance rankings. On the Reporters without Borders Press Freedom Index, Namibia is at 17th in the world while Malaysia is at a woeful 146th. Hardly an example we want to follow then.

Malaysia is the country that sentenced one of its own MPs to 18 months in jail for whistleblowing. Rafizi Ramli, vice-president of the People’s Justice Party, did not receive protection under the whistleblower protection law when he disclosed part of an official audit document dealing with the 1MDB scandal, the biggest corruption scandal to hit the country, involving Prime Minister Najib Razak. Instead he was found guilty under Malaysia’s Official Secrets Act and sentenced to a prison term. Rafizi is currently free pending an appeal against his conviction.

The Malaysian whistleblowing law is seen at best as ineffectual and at worst as draconian. Even the most basic research would have picked up the problems there are concerning whistleblowing in Malaysia.

Namibia should be seen as a best practice country and not one that follows bad examples and even incorporates them into our law. Government would be best advised to scrap Section 52 (1d) of the Bill currently before the National Assembly. If it does not, the eventual law will in all likelihood face a constitutional challenge.

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