Wed | May 27, 2020

Hello Mi Neighbour | A society without whistle-blowers is doomed to fail

Published:Tuesday | May 1, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Hello, mi neighbour! Isn't it unfortunate that the soundest advice a parent may offer a morally and ethically sound youngster entering the working environment today is to "see and blind and hear and deaf" because "he that keepeth his mouth, keepeth his life" and his job?

What could warrant such advice? Is it the high level of corruption which permeates several public and private organisations across the world? And who will be the whistle-blower against organisational corruption?

The word 'whistle-blower' originated from the use of a whistle by 19th-century law-enforcement officials to alert the public or fellow police of danger.

Today, the person within a public or private organisation who exposes activities deemed illegal or unethical is called a whistle-blower. Unfortunately, in this environment, whistle-blowers risk reprisal from those accused of wrongdoing and can even face legal action, criminal charges, social stigma, and job loss.

There's a strong argument that whistle-blowing at the workplace is unethical because it breaches confidentiality, especially where sensitive client information is handled. The counterargument is that whistle-blowing aims to protect client/customer interest and the public at large, and therefore should be encouraged. And, yes, there are laws to protect whistle-blowers. Any thoughts?

In some instances, whistleblowers are met with hostility by management. This response often leads to acute anxiety, nightmares and stress related physical illnesses.

As a consequence, would-be-whistle-blowers, for fear of ending up in 'bad books', remain silent. Offended co-workers often seek to destroy the career of the whistle-blowers through a technique called 'gaslighting' - a form of "mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favour the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity."




Barry Adams explains that to be a whistle-blower takes bravery. "The list of negative consequences seems endless: broken promises, disillusionment, isolation, humiliation, vindictive tactics to make the individual's work more difficult and/or insignificant, formal reprimand, and difficult court proceedings."

Where whistle-blowers are dismissed, they may struggle to find further employment due to poor references and blacklisting. The social impact of whistle-blowing, through loss of livelihood and family strain, may also impact whistle-blowers' will to live.

When all is said and done, a society without whistle-blowers is doomed to fail.

And here I would ask everyone to join in paying tribute to Jamaica's integrity-building, anti-corruption organisation, National Integrity Action (NIA), whose vision is for "a Jamaica where government, businesses, civil society and the people manifest integrity in their conduct, are held accountable and apply proper sanctions for corrupt activities". Its mission is "to combat corruption and build integrity in Jamaica through the persistent promotion of transparency, accountability in the conduct of government, businesses and the wider society". And the NIA "has accepted the mandate to combat corruption and build integrity in Jamaica on a non-partisan basis for the public benefit". Here, here.

And on our part, without fear of reprisal, we will continue to be whistle-blowers on behalf of the principles of neighbourliness: love your neighbour as yourself and do unto others as you would have them do unto you, until we all get the message! PHEWWWWWW!!




- Miss Powell, St Andrew - for mattress.

- Janet - for offering a refrigerator to a neighbour.

- Miss Maitland, St Andrew - for offering accommodation.

- Neighbour - for food items.




- Bro Barrett, Manchester - asking for help with medication.

- Keisha, Manchester - asking for a dresser and a bed frame.

- Neighbour - needs a front door and a refrigerator.

- Tabean, St Andrew - mother of four asking for table, bed, dresser, chairs.

- Elaine, Kingston - asking neighbours for a stove.

- Neighbour, St James - asking for a bed and a dresser.

- Mr Johnson, St Elizabeth - asking for a mattress.

To help, please call Silton Townsend @ 334-8165, 884-3866, or deposit to acct # 351 044 276 NCB. (Bank routing #: JNCBJMKX) or send donations to HELLO NEIGHBOUR C/o 53 Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 10; Paypal/credit card; email: Or contact e-mail: Mr Townsend exclusively manages the collections and distributions mentioned in this column and is neither an employee nor agent of The Gleaner.