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  • Nigel Akuani 

See Something Suspicious, Say Something

Port Moresby: Since the establishment of Papua New Guinea’s Whistleblower Act in 2020, young people are now making a genuine call to people of good will serving in the workforce to speak up and report suspicious instances of malpractice and corruption.

Five young and dynamic students from Don Bosco Technological Institute (DBTI) Boroko, were part of the Chat Room of Wednesday 28th July 2021, to give their take on the crucial role the Act plays in ensuring transparency and accountability.

The students discussion focused on a brief insight into the origin of the Whistleblower Act, its function and benefits in addressing malpractice and corruption occurring in the country’s various sectors, case reports that came under the media’s scrutiny, a distinction of efficiency when applying such an Act in developed and developing countries, the pivotal role youths of the day played in steering the nation to prosperity, duty of parents in teaching moral values and principles that should be ingrained in their children from an early age, and a strong call of action for people of honesty and integrity to step forward and exercise their powers and rights provided for by the Act.

Third-Year student, Egbert Awani studying Metal Fabrication and Welding, said the purpose of the Act’s establishment was to identify and report cases of misconduct in office. “In any game you have referees, and they are referred to as whistleblowers because they blow the whistle when something is wrong in the game. In the same way in society, a whistleblower is a person who reports to law enforcement authorities any misconduct that has been intentionally overlooked by those entrusted management,” he stressed.

Frederick Kembu, a First-Year studying Information Technology, referenced a quote by Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke entitled ‘When Good People Do Nothing’, and said the legislation of the Whistleblower Act was a positive step forward but required honesty and bravery from individuals and groups in reporting practitioners of unprofessional conduct. “The moment we realize the importance of this law and when we start to become brave in our deeds of self-sacrifice for the common good, where we are not afraid to take judgement and we start risking our lives to infiltrate corruption, only then will our country see the long-overdue change it deserves,” he said.

He told of renowned people who were Whistleblowers and the significant impact they caused in their country and urged the upcoming younger generation to aspire to be honest and responsible contributors in their respective societies putting their self-interest aside. “Frank Serpico reported police corruption in the New York Police Department, and Aleksandar Obradovic of Serbia who leaked documents on corruption and fraud inside a state-owned company. These people caused a major reform that underlined the grave importance of management of public offices. Our youth have within themselves this potential to cause tangible change out of genuine goodness and this should serve as a constant reminder as they come to serve society and grow older,” he expressed.

Emphasizing the need for more advocacy of the Act, Roberta Baraka, a Second-Year student in Maintenance and Machine Fitting, called for more strategic awareness that targeted youth and informed the masses. “Despite the law’s legislation, there is a lack of knowledge among young people. Though awareness is done, they are not targeting young people. Advocacy methods have to be tangible, appealing and digital that will instantly grab our attention,” she said.

“There has to be more awareness of this act so people can really come out, are you tired of seeing corruption and seeing our parents paying taxes but little to show for it in terms of service delivery and development? If you already know of the Whistleblower Act, then uphold your right and moral obligation to report malpractices. Do not be afraid and report it,” she added.

Wayne Kasi, First-Year in Information Technology, shed light on the impact malpractice had on organizations and society and said many people tend not to report offences due to safety reasons. “There is not enough awareness in society about the positive attributes this Act provides for. As a result, people are too afraid to speak out because they feel that in doing so jeopardizes their own life and the lives of their family,” he clarified.

Also, in Year-1 studying Information Technology, Katherine Ovia, described honesty and integrity as the core values that were rudimentary to applying and upholding the laws set out under the Whistleblower Act.

Chat Room's next session on Wednesday 4th August, will have students from Marianville Secondary School talk on the topic 'Engaging Youths in Fight Against Corruption'.

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