Protect’s Head of Advocacy and Advice, Bob Matheson was interviewed by South Korean TV channel, EBS (Educational Broadcasting System) for their weekly programme ‘Documentary insight’ to discuss how Protect supports whistleblowers, our work with organisations, the whistleblowing legislation in the UK, and the new EU legislation which will be introduced by 2021.
Whistleblowing cases in South Korea are received through Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission (ACRC). After receipt the cases, related departments with investigated rights will judge whether it is affected public interest or not. Then they will notify the respondent.
In South Korea, people tend to consider whistleblowers as traitors without loyalty for speaking out, and Bob was asked what could be done to change this social perception, and his suggestions to improve whistleblowing in South Korean society.
He said, “Education and familiarisation. A lot of the negative views towards whistleblowers come from a place of misunderstanding. Whistleblowers are in fact, integral to making our hospitals safe, our financial institutions stable, and our governments uncorrupt. Once what is at stake is made clear, who can really argue with that?
Further, because the public will generally only see the exceptionally small number of whistleblowers who end up raising concerns with the media, there is a perception that this is the start and end of the process, rather than the last step in a long painful journey of trying to bring the issues to your organisation’s, or the relevant statutory authority’s, attention. Our research suggest that 8% of the population have raised whistleblowing concerns in the last two years, which amounts to over 5 million people in the UK alone! Whistleblowers are often thought of as disloyal, and yet the vast majority of individuals who I’ve spoken to are extremely loyal to the aims of the organisation.
We can only challenge these misconceptions with firstly teaching people, and then showing them differently. By embedding a culture for the large magnitude of day-to-day wrongdoing, we familiarise society with what whistleblowing actually means, and pave the way for societal change.”