We need more whistleblowers

Ex- High Court Judge Syed Ahmad Idid is right.

If we silence or ‘kill’ the whistleblowers, who will then brave enough to blow the whistle?

Ex-judge: Protect whistleblowers, informants

Soon Li Tsin
May 23, 07 12:15am

A retired former High Court judge who was once punished for being an informant himself said the government should appreciate whistleblowers and informants and not punish them.

Syed Ahmad Idid Syed Abdullah Aidid, 69, said this at a public lecture entitled, ‘Addressing Corruption in Malaysia’ organised by International Institute of Public Policy and Management last night.

“I call upon the government to be helpful to those who give information, they should appreciate them […] without information, they won’t have any cases at all.

“Those who give information are those quite near to the (corrupt) act. If you discourage them, you are telling the world, look you better not come and give us any information then there will be no cases being investigated,” he told the crowd of about a 100 people.

In 1996, Syed Ahmad resigned from the judiciary after penning a 33-page report which included allegations against 12 judges involving 39 cases of corruption, 21 cases of abuse of power, 52 cases of misconduct, immorality and other indiscretions.

The then attorney-general, the late Mohtar Abdullah had then dismissed the report as a ‘poison-pen letter’ and said there were no grounds for prosecution as the allegations were baseless.

However in June last year, Syed Ahmad in an interview with the New Straits Times claimed that he was forced to quit from his post following the probe on the poison-pen letter.

He also claimed that his allegations were never properly investigated.

‘I didn’t distribute the letter’

Asked by a member of the audience if he’d do it all over again if he was still a court judge now, Syed Ahmad said “yes” without any hesitation.

“Yes, I would but probably in another way,” he grinned.

He also said that he has been troubled with some recent findings over the report he wrote more than 10 years ago.

“You see, something has been bothering me which has not been told by the authorities… I did not distribute the letter.

“One of the seven people to whom I sent the letter must have printed and sent out. I have my suspicions now who that person is but he is not owning up because he can’t,” he said without elaborating further.

He also said the public should give the Anti-Corruption Agency time to show it’s effectiveness.

“They have a new leader now (Ahmad Said Hamdan) and we’ll wait and see what happens,” he said. 

A laughing matter

Syed Ahmad, who is also the director of Regional Centre for Arbitration Kuala Lumpur, argued that the recent pay rise for civil servants announcement might deter corruption.

He said that “salary increment does help in combatting corruption” before cracking a joke on the government’s move.

“Cuepacs said that the civil servants have pledged to be responsible and disciplined, to dress smartly, and not take long tea or coffee breaks,” he read aloud from a piece a paper which he took out from his pocket.

“Does this mean they have not been responsible and discipline, they have not been dressing smartly and they have been taking long tea and coffee breaks before this?” he chuckled.

He then delivered the cruncher: “Our inspector general of police Musa Hassan said that with these fabulous increment, ‘we hope my men will stop taking bribes’,” as the crowd roared with laughter.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday announced a hefty pay rise for civil servants which observers view as a strong indicator of a general election being around the corner.

Effective July 1, Abdullah said government servants will get a pay raise of between 7.5 percent and 35 percent.

The cost of living allowance, or Cola, will also be increased by 100 percent while members of the police and the armed forces will receive 20 percent over and above the announced increase in pay.

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