AI can enhance whistleblowing

The practice treads the line between traditional ethics and modern business practices, and navigates a terrain fraught with cultural and legal complexities.

The Malaysian corporate ethos, traditionally respectful of hierarchy, often clashes with an environment open to criticism, leading to a need for protection for whistleblowers.

The Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 is a step in this direction, but still grapples with effectiveness and practical application. This is accentuated by a general cultural reluctance to embrace whistleblowing.

Artificial intelligence can transform this landscape. Its ability to dissect large datasets and identify unethical patterns brings an unprecedented level of objectivity and efficiency to whistleblowing. This technological evolution becomes particularly crucial in a culture where direct criticism is often circumvented.

The increasing awareness of whistleblowing’s importance in Malaysian organisations, as highlighted in the Deloitte 2023 Asia Pacific Conduct Watch Survey Report, shows the need for stronger policy implementation and a cultural shift.

AI offers a solution to the primary obstacle to whistleblowing — the fear of retaliation.

AI-driven platforms, providing anonymity and confidential reporting channels, align well with the protective measures outlined in the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010.

However, the integration of AI into whistleblowing systems must be navigated carefully, ensuring these systems operate transparently and without bias, in consideration of Malaysia’s unique cultural and legal context.

For Malaysian businesses, integrating AI into their whistleblowing mechanisms demands a thoughtful, strategic approach which requires:

ASSESSMENT of the landscape: Begin by evaluating the whistleblowing infrastructure, understanding cultural nuances, legal frameworks and identifying areas where AI can add value.

SELECTING suitable AI tools: Tailor the choice of AI tools to the organisation’s needs, focusing on data analysis for pattern recognition, secure communication channels and automated report management systems.

ALIGNING with legal and ethical standards: Compliance with Malaysian laws, especially the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 and ISO 37002 guidelines, is critical. AI systems must respect the confidentiality and protection of whistleblowers as mandated by law.

POLICY development and employee training: Update the organisation’s whistleblowing policies to incorporate AI use. Training sessions for employees should emphasise the importance of whistleblowing, the functionality of the AI-enhanced system, and assurances regarding protection and confidentiality.

IMPLEMENTATION and continuous monitoring: Deploy AI tools within the infrastructure, ensuring technical integration and seamless operation. Monitoring of the system’s effectiveness and ethical operation is essential.

FEEDBACK mechanism and continuous improvement: Establish a feedback loop from users of the whistleblowing system, using this input for improvement to ensure the system’s effectiveness and alignment with organisational values and legal requirements.

CULTIVATING a culture of integrity: Beyond technological implementation, nurturing a culture that values transparency, ethical behaviour, and open communication is essential.

In conclusion, the integration of AI into whistleblowing practices in Malaysia represents a crucial advance towards a more ethical and transparent corporate environment.


Criminologist, Graymatter Forensic Advisory, Kuala Lumpur


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

Source: NST

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