CITY GUIDE >Highlights
It takes courage to be a whistle blower
By Ben Lim Chiow Ang (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-30 10:56

What action would you take if you discovered your superior was abusing their position?

All too often it's a case of damn if you do and damn if you don't. Blowing the whistle might put your own rice bowl at stake, but keeping silent comes with a battle of conscience that can affect your performance at work.

Unfortunately our course of action is dictated not simply by personal values but also by the culture embedded in the organization and the society in which we live.

In a society like China, whistle-blowing on your own superior in a public institution is unthinkable.

Examples of this "respectful" silence makes the news every day in China: The tragic incident of young toddler who died in a pediatric hospital in Nanjing, the errant drivers accused by traffic police of operating illegal cabs in Shanghai, the inmate who died while in custody in a Yunnan prison.

There was cover-up during the initial investigation in all three cases and it was only from subsequent independent investigations that the truth came to light.

However, I believe it is too little too late, because the credibility of those organizations has already been undermined with their initial denials.

You might reasonably question why it was that no one stood up and blew the whistle at the earliest opportunity.

Remember though that it must take a lot of courage to be a whistleblower when your career or even your life is in jeopardy.

There was a well-documented case of such a spirited move in the infamous HIV village in Henan province.

The courageous act by physician Gao Yaojie and infectious disease specialist Gui Xien, who stumbled upon the HIV village and made it public, is commendable when we consider the situation of the 1990s and early 2000s in China.

To blow or not to blow the whistle in a competitive corporate world is an extremely serious and risky move, but always remember it is ethically right.

I dare you to blow the whistle.

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