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by Hwa Yang Jerng | Linkedin
In Malaysia, talk of a Sexual Harassment Act (of law) has been bandied around by various bodies, hitting the press over 2017 and 2018. As of November 2018, this has not yet been tabled in Parliament *sic*. However, we already have Act 711, the Whistleblower Protection Act, which points complaint about improper conduct in general to "enforcement agencies," under a so-called "no wrong door," policy. These are relevant, and they can be improved.
The problem I would like to raise about a "no wrong door," policy is that there remains a general sense among powerless citizens that the enforcement agencies are "all wrong doors." This remains especially true of sexual harassment. This is evident when complaints about bad behaviours of citizens and corporations are sent to
- the unregulated networks of social media, where they take on great momentum, resulting in extra-judicial chaos, and
- mass-media organisations which have graciously take on the responsibility of coordinating a response from enforcement agencies.
In the interest of emboldening the public to increase its volume of complaints, while ensuring that complaints are processes in an orderly fashion, I briefly propose an improvement to the whistleblowing protocol for improper conduct in general, to be cooperatively regulated by the federal government, and civil society. Act 711 can be extended to include three things.
First, a formal and independent Commission of Complaints, with a commissioner of complaints, should be created, with minimal cost and staffing, to administer the two items below.
Second, a protocol. It seems like a double-blind architecture would work best, the sort of thing commonly used to reduce prejudice in scientific data collection, via anonymity.
Types of parties: Improper People, Complainers, Collecting Agencies, Reporting Agencies, Enforcement Agencies
- Improper People are those accused of improper conduct.
- Complainers are whistleblowers, the people making the complaints.
- Collecting Agencies would be responsible for taking named, and anonymous complaints, and collecting them in a regular format, while hiding the identity of Complainers, keeping Complainers updated on the status of their complaints, and advocating for complaints to be dealt further along the chain. Lawyers' offices are suited for this role.
- Reporting Agencies would be responsible for consolidating anonymised complaints from Collecting Agencies, and coordinating a response from Enforcement Agencies. Lawyers' offices are also suited for this role.
- Enforcement Agencies, as already assumed by Act 711, are the specialised agencies which handle law enforcement of various subsets of the law.
Third, a blockchain. Technology has recently graced us with this marvel designed to keep track of things so that they are never lost, easy to find, and always checkable, by anyone, at any time. All complaints should be consolidated on a blockchain upon arrival at the Commission of Complaints, and the maintenance of the blockchain should be assigned to the Commission.
Public access to certain types of information on the blockchain should be updated in real-time: the identities of all Collecting Agencies and Reporting Agencies, the number of complaints and the type of complaints that have arrived at Collecting Agencies, and the current ticket status of each complaint as it is passed through the protocol, for example. [All of this mirrors how court cases are tracked on a court docket, but here we are talking about complaints which have not yet become court cases.]
That's all. I want to keep this brief.
Thanks for reading.
Hwa Yang Jerng (Jerng to friends) is a software developer, armchair analyst, programmer, and cafe entrepreneur. He’s a fan of integrating tech with governance (or at least, sharing these ideas for the purposes of further discussion). You can read his other thoughts here.