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Whistle blowing is a term for exposing misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal
activity occurring in an organization. This paper discusses the meaning of whistle
blowing, types of whistle blower and their mistakes, factors to consider before
whistle blowing and some example of past whistle blowing case. A survey about
whistle blowing was carried out to investigate how prominent, frequent and
significant whistle blowing in Malaysia. The study involved 47 respondents from
various backgrounds. Majority of them were male, student from 15 to 35 years
old, and from city background. The term whistle-blowing was well known to
them and reading material was the main source. The whistle blowing was
described as an act of loyalty with average frequency in Malaysia. However, they
claimed that whistle blower will not be protected. Overall, they regard whistle
blowing as important. The findings indicate that the misconduct and disloyal
activity towards organization or privately attack should be dismissing as the
whistle-blowing can be a criterion that will put the organization into successful or

What is whistle-blowing?
A profession is a vocation that requires a high level of education and practical
experience in the field. In return, for the trust, they are given, the professionals
have a special obligation to ensure their actions are for the good of those who
depend on them. The moral choices made by professionals have a strong impact
on the society. Professional society for example, is an organization that promoting
the welfare of the profession. Those professionals men need to gain trust from
the public on the competence and integrity.
One of the misconduct activity that have been highlighted by few societies or
associations is whistle blowing. Whistle blowing is a term for exposing
misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization. The
alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a
law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health
and safety violations and corruption. It may be bribing or being dishonest to
customers to maintain a good status in public and even violation of law.
The term whistle-blowing origins from the common practice of a referee uses a
whistle to indicate foul or illegal play in a game. The phrase whistle-blowing was
created by a US activist named Ralph Nader in early 1970 in order to avoid
negative connotation found in other words.
Whistle-blower who whistle or expose the misconducts can be the employee,
supplier or even customers of the company or organization. In other words,
whistle-blower can be anybody who happens to become aware of illegal activities
conducted in an organization. They are often considered as heroes by the public.
This is because they are willing to risk their job in order to warn the people or to
make a report to law enforcement on misconducts happening in their company.
Most of whistle-blowers was fired from their organization while they are exposing
those misconducts or issues to the management or law enforcements.

1. Internal Whistle Blower : A person who exposes misconducts within a
company or organization. For example, employees.
2. External Whistle Blower : A person who not closely related to the company
and expose misconducts by the company or organization to the law
enforcements or through media. For example, customers or clients.

Lots of principled and courages people set out to expose wrongdoing and are
utter failures. They should not fall into standard traps and know what to do step
by step. They totally trust people in power and believe what theyve been taught
about how the system operates. Society is desperately needs principled and
courageous people, and it needs them to be successful in exposing problems and
exploring the best solutions to be taken. There are some of the common mistakes
made by those trying to expose problems.
Seven common mistakes that commonly made by those aiming to expose
wrongdoing :
1. Trusting too much.
- One of the biggest mistakes of those who discover problems is to trust
that others will also be concered and take action with him or her. Many
whistle-blowers, burned by their experiences, saying that they were
nave; they trusted others people too much. They trusted that
management would act. They trusted their collegues would support
them. They trusted that the union would back them.

2. Not having enough evidence.
- The whistle-blowers make claims about whats going on without first
having evidence to back up every details. The claims might be entirely
corrent, but those without evidence can be plausibly denied, and even
the claims with evidence can be discredited.

3. Driving away supporters by the wrong style.

- Cases such as child abuse, public health risks and corruption are usually
expose emotionally. Much overt emotion approach; shouting, hectoring,
disgust can be counterproductive and make everything be worst than
before. It is possible, though rare, to appear to be too calm about those

4. Not waiting for the right opportunity.
- Many a good expose is ineffective as it made at the wrong time, to
wrong audience or even in the wrong circumtances. Many whistle-
blowers believe that the truth is enough and not care how they speak
out. But it does. It is a common mistake for people with an important
message to go law enforcements or public when they are ready, rather
than when the opportunity is just right.

5. Not building support.
- To have some chance of success, it is vital to have supporters.

6. Playing the opponents game.
- All manner of formal channels for dealing with injustices, including
grievance procedures, ombudsmen, antidiscrimination boards and the
courts. When an individual (the whistle-blower) appeals to one of these
formal channels for action to be taken against an organisation, and the
advantages goes to the organization. The whistle-blower is worn down
emotionally and financially while the organization kepp on fight with
their expensive lawyers and mount attacks.

7. Not knowing when to stop.
- From psychological phenomenon, a person who embarked on a quest
for justice, can be hard to let go the case and get on with life. This is
especially when the chance of the case to win is small or that further
gains will require more effort for far less return.

From Gene James article, Whistle Blowing : Its Moral Justification in his book,
Business Ethics : Readings and Cases in Corporate Morality, stated that few
factors need to be consider before a whistle-blower take his or her action. Those
factors are below :
1. Make sure the situation warrants whistle-blowing. If more serious trade
secrets or confidential organization property is exposed, will it harm
others? Such a bankcruptcy and co-workers will lose theirs job. The risk
should be calculated.
2. Examine motives to blow the whistle. If the motive is to help others by
bring up the justification, yes you can go on.
3. Verify and document the information needed. Can the information stand
up in a hearing and/or court?
4. Knowing the type of wrong doing and to whom it should reported. By
knowing this, it will assist in gathering the right evidence and the chance to
win is high.
5. Allegations are state specifically and appropriately. The data obtained is to
substantiate the claim.
6. The most important to whistle-blowers is stay with the facts. Minimizes the
retaliation and avoids irrelevant mud-slinging.
7. Able to report the misconducts to internal or external contacts. If the
internal contacts is proved effective and less damaging to whistle-blowers,
choose it. Otherwise, select the appropriate external contacts.
8. If the whistle-blower want to reveal his or herself, documentation of the
wrongdoing and anticipate is really important.
9. Decide whether current or alumni whistle-blowing is the best alternative.
Become a whistle-blower while you are an employee or resign first?
Resigning should not be taken as your decisions to take an action toward
the person who keep in charge in the misconducts is to fulfill the moral
obligations beyond the welfare.
10. It is important to follow the proper guidelines in reporting and
wrongdoing. Forms, meeting and other technicalities are few things that
should be remind every day until the case is justify.


Mr Geary. U.S. Steel

Martin Marietta Corp v. Paul Lorenz
Nuclear whistle-blower backed by watchdog agency
The Brown Ferry


Mr. G and Company S

Mr. G was not educated as an engineer, but he had 14 years of engineering
experience with Company S. Mr. G convinced that a new type of product that
manufactured by his employer, Company S was unsafe under certain
circumstances. He attempted to make his concerns known to management, but
was rejected. Finally a vice president listened, who was also a friend of him, and
an investigation justified Mr. G's concerns. Thus a costly big mistake was
prevented. However Mr. G was fired on July 13, 1967, on grounds of

In a 4-3 decision, the P.S. Court denied Mr. G a cause of action, reasoning as

There is nothing here from which we could infer that the company fired Mr. G for
the specific purpose of causing him harm, or coercing him to break any law or
otherwise to compromise himself. According to his own statements, Mr. G had
already won his own battle within the company. The most natural inference from
the chain of events is that Mr. G had made a nuisance of himself, and the
company discharged him to preserve administrative order in its own house.

Mr. L and Company M

The case started with Mr. L a mechanical engineer with 16 years experience in
fracture mechanics and almost a doctorate in metallurgy joined Company M, an
aerospace manufacturer and contractor for a larger company named Company N,
in 1972. Mr. B worked in Company Ms research and development department as
a principle investigator. Mr. L was responsible for the organization and quality
control of the projects assigned to him.

In the fall of 1973, while working on the NDI Contract, Mr. L expressed his concern
for a lack of adequate data for the project to be deemed safe. The supervisors of
Mr. L were not happy with his comments. In 1974 Mr. L was unhappy with the
communication of his concerns to the client, approached Company N directly and
revealed his concerns. This caused a meeting between all parties to take place
and Mr. L was asked to take the minutes. He was directed by the manager to
modify the minutes of a technical review meeting regarding his complaint. He
revealed the misconduct to Company N at the review session. Mr. L was informed
that he should have made the modifications and should start playing ball with
management. The Company M fired him on 25th July 1975.

Lower courts rejected Mr. Ls claim of wrongful discharge on the grounds that C.S.
Court recognizes no such claim. Federal law prohibits knowingly and willingly
making a false representation to a federal agency.

The court concluded that Mr. L did present sufficient evidence at trial to establish
a prima facie case for wrongful discharge under the public-policy exception to the
at-will employment doctrine. The Court directed a new trial in accordance with
the principles here in established.


There are many lessons that can be learnt from this case

First, the board chairman should have responded to the whistleblowing complaint
much quicker, rather than waiting several months to do so. The whistleblower
could well have blown the whistle outside, such as to the media. What should a
director do in this situation?Given a directors duty to act in the interests of the
organization and his duty of care, it seems to me that directors have a
responsibility for properly investigating complaints about acts that can potentially
harm the organization if there are reasonable grounds to believe those
complaints.What if some of the possible consequences which the whistleblower
warned about actually occur? Finally, beyond their duties as fiduciaries, isnt there
a moral duty for directors to take concerns about wrongdoing in the organization
seriously, especially if enough evidence had been presented?

Second, the board did not keep the whistleblower informed about the outcome
of the investigation. It gave the impression that it did not take the complaint

Third, there was no attempt to undertake a proper independent investigation, as
both the CEO and the HR department were conflicted. The CEO had hired the GM
in the face of ethical concerns and a finding against the GM would have led to
questions about the CEOs judgment in appointing him. The HR department
should not have investigated the complaints. Quite apart from its apparent
subservience to the divisional management, it is not advisable for the department
that is ultimately responsible for taking actions against managers and employees
to be investigating complaints on its own



Mr. W, once a top engineer in the nation's nuclear weapons cleanup program, has
been relegated to a basement storage room equipped with cardboard-box and
plywood furniture. Mr. W bosses sent him there when he persisted in raising
concerns about risks at the Energy Department's project to deal with millions of
gallons of radioactive waste near Hanford, Wash. The Defense Nuclear Facilities
Safety Board, has backed up Mr. W and issued a rebuke to Energy Secretary Ms. S,
concluding that the safety culture at the $12.3-billion project is "flawed" and that
significant risks exist in the plant's design. The conclusion came after a nearly
yearlong investigation, and it confirmed that Mr. W had been "abruptly removed
from the project" when he raised technical questions about its design. Hanford is
the nation's most contaminated piece of property, housing 56 million gallons of
highly radioactive sludge in underground tanks that pose a long-term risk of
leaking into the Columbia River. The Energy Department wants to embed the
waste into solid glass and ship it to a future dump, but so far not a single gallon
has been treated. The project is more than 20 years behind the original schedule,
and the cost has more than tripled. Until he was removed from his job, Mr. W, 63,
managed a technical staff and an external staff that and also holds a doctorate in
systems engineering. He spent 20 years working for company Y, running chemical
plants all over the country, and then another 20 years in the nuclear cleanup
industry. Mr. W sent an email last year to a small circle of the top engineering
experts in chemical mixing technology, raising concerns over the decision years
ago to use an untested and potentially risky technology in the Hanford design.
The processing of the waste at Hanford requires a large number of mixing tanks
where sludges, salts and liquids are separated into high-level and low-level
radioactivity steams, using chemical processes and filters. The system was
supposed to be cheaper than mechanical agitators and less subject to failure, a
crucial feature once the tanks are in operation and too radioactive to service. But
no U.S. nuclear plant uses the technology, and Mr. W said there was significant
doubt whether they could adequately keep the tanks mixed. If tanks are not kept
properly mixed, plutonium solids could settle at the bottom and go critical. A
poorly mixed tank could also result in large burps of explosive hydrogen gas and
the solids could plug up pipes in the plant. Under a recommendation from the
safety board, the Energy Department has agreed to conduct a large-scale
demonstration of the system. The issue of testing the system should have been
resolved long ago and that it was a mistake to begin construction of the plant
before the design was 90% complete. At present, the construction is 55%


complete and the design is 80% complete. He considers his reputation in the
engineering industry destroyed. The Labor Department is investigating his
treatment. He is also suing URS, Bechtel and five executives, seeking a new
position, an apology and changes in the program.



On x,x,xxxx, three engineers in company A nuclear energy division resign
and made statements to the press and on TV declaring their concern for the
effects on the public of technical flaws in the nuclear power program. The three
engineers, Mr. X, Mr. Y, and Mr. Z had each joined GE at the age of 22. They were
managers in the areas of performance evaluation and improvement, quality
assurance, and advanced control and instrumentation respectively.

On x,x,xxxx Mr. H , a nuclear safety engineer and project manager for the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, acting without knowledge of the dicisions of the
three GE engineers, had given notice of his resignation to be effective x,x,xxxx. He
had expressed his concern about nuclear power plant safety in a CBS interview
recorded on x,x,xxxx, but not aired until x,x,xxxx.

What led to these concerns and the four startling resignations which
involved substantial personal sacrifices? The engineers cited a number of specific
unresolved safety problems in commercial nuclear power plants. Prominent
among them were hazards revealed by the B plant fire on x,x,xxxx. The fire which
started in the electrical control cables from the use of a candle to detect air leaks,
burned uncontrolled for 7.5 hours.

The two operating GE nuclear reactors were at full power when the fir
ebegan. One of them went dangerously out of control for several hours after the
fire was put out. The reactors sophisticated emergency safety devices failed
totally. The unit was in the end controlled by some available equipment which
was not part of the elaborated safety apparatus, and which emerged from the fire
undamaged as a matter of random chance.

The accident was a case of common- mode failure, a type of accident
assume to be highly unlikely, in fact, not credible. Mr. T, Superintendent of
company A, said after the fire, We had lost redundant components that we
didnt think you could lose. The record shows, however, that there was extensive
official fore-knowledge of safety deficiencies at company A and that the very
combination of problems responsible for the accident had been identified by
Federal safety authorities but left uncorrected.


The responsiblity for designing and maintaining nuclear power plants and
for assessing and guaranteeing the safety of their opertion rests to an important
degree with engineers, individually and collectively, in the industry and in the
regulatory agency. Failures by engineers at many different levels to anticipate
consequences, to establish safety criteria, to meet applicable criteria, and to
respond to recornized situations of non-compliance led to the company A fire.



We have conducted an online survey to find out the response from the
other people about whistle blowing in Malaysia. In this survey, we have asked 12
questions to the respondent. 4 of the questions are about respondent's personal
information. There are total of 47 respondents that answer the survey and 64%
from that are male respondent. Most of the respondents are students in the age
range of 15 to 35 years old. Other respondents are from government employee
(11%) and private employee (6%). Furthermore, most of the respondent came
from city background (capital of states in Malaysia). Here are the results from our
survey. The rest of the survey question will be discussed as below.
Question 5: Have you ever heard about whistle blowing before?

Figure 1: Pie chart shows the response on question 5
From this survey, majority of the respondents with percentage of 77% said
that they have heard about the whistle blowing while there only 23% of
respondents never heard about it before this survey is conducted.
From this analysis, it can be seen that most of the respondent know about
whistle blowing. This may be due to the most of the respondents from this survey
are from intellectual background. As been mentioned earlier, majority of the
respondents are students, followed by government employee and private
employee. All of them must have know about whistle blowing from education
especially students where they did not experience working experience yet. For


the employees, they most probably know about it because they already in
working environment.
Besides, there also a few respondents that never heard about whistle
blowing. This may be due to some respondents especially students who did not
study about whistle blowing yet. Other than that, they also have lack of
knowledge about whistle blowing because they did not experience working life
and the information about whistle blowing does not reach them. Some of them
might be school students who do not have an idea about working ethics.

Question 6: If yes, how do you know about whistle blowing?

Figure 2: Bar chart shows the response on question 6
Most of the respondents knew about whistle blowing from reading
materials (about 40% of the total respondents). Other than that, they also knew
about whistle blowing from the organization (16%), friends (15%), self-experience
(10%) and other resources (13%).
From this result, it is observed that most of the respondents get to know
about whistle blowing from reading materials. As mentioned earlier, most of the
respondents are students that do not have working experience yet. So, one of the
relevant sources that they may have refer to find out about whistle blowing is


from reading materials. Other than that, the students also may have known about
whistle blowing from friends and family that are already have job.
For the employed workers, they must have known about whistle blowing
from the organization where they are working with. The organizations must have
their own guidelines on code of ethics that all the workers have to follow. So, all
the employed workers must know about whistle blowing from the guidelines that
have been applied in their company. Other than that, some of the employed
workers may have experienced whistle blowing during working.
Question 7: How do you find whistle blowing is?

Figure 3: Pie chart shows the response on question 7

Based on pie chart of the result shown above, 22 out of 47 respondents
think that whistle blowing is an act of loyalty. This contributes the largest
percentage of 47%. On the other hand, 14 respondents which is 30% of the
respondent think that whistle blowing is an act of disloyalty while 11 others
answers not sure.

From the result above, majority of the respondent agrees that whistle
blowing is an act of loyalty. An act of loyalty may varies from a respondent to
another respondent. From a point of view, whistle blowing itself is a noble act
thus it prove ones loyalty to god, country, other people and himself. From other
opinion, loyalty is what is best and what is right for the person, thus whistle
blowing is for the persons own sake. However, 30% of the respondent responded
that whistle blowing is an act of disloyalty. This also depending on the persons
point of view. This may be because the person relate whistle blowing with


betrayal and integrity. The respond also depends on the situations that the
respondent are imagining. If the respondent imagine to whistle blow a higher up
that is unrelated to him, he most likely to respond whistle blowing as an act of
loyalty. On the other hand, if he imagine to whistle blow somebody close to him,
he might probably responded whistle blowing as an act of disloyalty.
Question 8: From your opinion, how frequent does whistle blowing happens in

Figure 4: Bar chart shows the response on question 8

From the result obtained, we can see a bell shaped graph. 47% of the
respondents think that whistle blowing happend in average frequency, 28% thinks
that it is most propably will not happend and 26% think it will highly to happend.

Based on the result, we can see that most people know that whistle
blowing did happen in Malaysia but not that frequent. This may be because most
whistle blowing cases did not go out to the public. There may also some factor
that result the respond such as if the respondent are in the situation that calls for
whistle blowing, will he do it? This may relate to the later question that has been
ask to the respondent which will be discussed later.


Question 9: From your opinion, did whistle blower get protected?

Figure 5: Pie chart shows the response on question 9

Based on the result in the pie chart above, 47% of the respondent think
that a whistle blower will not be protected. 36% of the respondent is not sure of
whistle blower protection while 17% says that a whistle blower will be protected.

From the result, we know that most people are unaware of whistle bower
protection act. This may be because in Malaysia, Whistle blowing protection act
has only been established in 2010. The respond from the respondent might also
be influenced by Malaysia's authorities as well. With high amount of crime ,
assassination and bribery, the protection of a whistle blower might not be taken
Question 10: Imagine you are a CEO of a company, what will you do to the whistle
blower if you are being reported for your bad doings?

Figure 6: Pie chart shows the response on question 10


Based on pie chart of the result shown above, it can be seen that 18 out of
47 respondents chose to do nothing when their bad doings as a CEO are exposed
by the whistle blower. This contributes the largest percentage of 38%. Next, 15
respondents have other opinion on this kind of situation. Their opinion is more on
to investigate the case and if it is proven to be wrong, the CEO must be able to
face the consequences. The other option that 9 respondents chose is that when
this kind of situation occur, they will fire the whistle blower. The least number of
5 respondents chose to bribe the whistle blower to change his/her statement.
This make up about 11% of total respondents.

From the result above, the most higher percentage is the option of to do
nothing on the situation. This may have been caused by they are brave enough to
face the consequences rather than put the blame on others. Other than that,
slightly less than the most chosen option is the self opinion about this situation
because the respondents have different point of view on what they will do when
come to this serious problem. Next, the respondent that chose the options to fire
and bribe the whistle blower to change his statement are made up of 32% which
it must have been due to lack of ethical value in their selves or there are other
reasons which suit their own interests without practicing the ethics.
Question 11: Imagine you are working in a company. Your manager asks you to
disobey the rules in a project. The only way to succeed in the project is by
disobeying the rules. If you refuse to continue the project, you will be fired by the
boss. What will you do?


Figure 7: Pie chart shows the response on question 11

Based on pie chart of the result shown above, the majority of 38
respondents chose to discuss with the boss on the best way to proceed the
project without disobeying the rule. This contributes the largest percentage of
81%. Next, 5 respondents are thinking of reporting the case to higher authority.
The least number of 2 respondents chose to resign and quietly leave the
company. While the other 2 of the respondents chose to proceed the project by
disobeying the rules and other option.

From the result above, the most chosen option is to discuss with the boss
on the best way to proceed the project without disobeying the rule. This option is
chose by most of the respondents must have been due to this is the better way
on resolving the problem while practicing ethics. Other than that, 11% of the
respondents chose to report the case to the higher authority. It may have been
caused by the non ethical act of the manager which have to be raised to the
higher authority position to take action on him. Next, least number of respondent
chose to resign and leave the company may have been due to the option is a non-
beneficial option which they will lose their job despite of trying to fix the
situation. The option which is to proceed the wrongdoing is not chosen by the
respondent because of this is clearly a bad practice of work.


Question 12: Do you think whistle blowing is important?

Figure 8: Pie chart shows the response on question 12

Based on pie chart of the result shown above, the majority of respondents
think that whistle blowing is important.. This made up of 64% of total
respondents. Next, 10 respondents disagree that the whistle blowing is important
while the other 7 respondents in not sure whether whistle blowing is important or

From the result above, most of the respondents agreed that whistle
blowing is important. This must have been due to the advantages of whistle
blowing itself. There are many advantages of whistle blowing such as the whistle
blower stands as a person of integrity. Other than that, the reasons to blow the
whistle on illegal or unethical activities is to protect the public and own self from
risk. On the other hand, 10 respondents disagree that the whistle blowing is
important may have been caused by the disadvantages of whistle blowing such as
the issue of personal safety and conflicts of interests that may occur. The other
respondents not sure with their stand may have been due to they have no idea
about the effect of whistle blowing from their own experience or other sources.


As a generation who may be a leader in the future, whistle-blowing should be
avoided. The misconduct and disloyal activitiy towards organization or privately
attack should be dismiss as the whistle-blowing can be a criteria that put the
organization into successful or failure. With bad publicity because of whistle-
blowing, those workers might lose their jobs and erodes the team spirit. While,
the whistle-blower may transferred to retaliation or estrangement. Reporting a
misconduct in the organization is a good thing to do, it will help the management
and other collegues be more responsible in everything. If the misconduct cannot
be helped or the management did not make any actions, the whistle-blower can
refer to the right authorities and cannot be so scared as the act stated in
Malaysias Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 (Dec 15, 2010). With the act, the
whistle-blower is protected and this will encourage others to make the workplace
into conducive workplace.



1. JOSEPHSON INSTITUTE. "12 Factors to Consider Before Blowing the

Whistle." Internet:
consider-before-blowing-the-whistle/, March 23, 2011. [December 12,
2. Jean Kumagai. "The Whistle-blower's Dilemma". Internet:
dilemma, April 1, 2004. [December 11, 2013]
3. Brian Martin. "The whistleblowers handbook: how to be an effective
resister". [On-line]. Available: [December 11, 2013]





9. Ethical and Legal Issues in Expressing Dissent, James C. Peterson and Dan
Farell, copyright 1986 by Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, ISBN 0-8403-


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