Latheefa's appointment as MACC chief hailed – but other questions arise


PETALING JAYA: Latheefa Beebi Koya's appointment as the new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner has been met positively – but it also raises some questions that have to be answered.

Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel said Latheefa was the right choice for the job but added that the appointment process should have been opened to applications and reviewed by a Parliamentary select committee.

"The random choice made in this case is a good one! Latheefa is known for her fearless no-nonsense approach," she said.

Cynthia added that Latheefa does not need to have any experience in the MACC to lead the fight against graft.

PKR vice president Zuraida Kamaruddin tweeted: "Another pride for the nation… Women on the job".

Malaysia's Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights Eric Paulsen said Latheefa's appointment sends a powerful message that the government is serious in eradicating corruption and power abuse.

"It is no more business as usual. Big fish or small fish, Malaysia must be corruption free."

Former Anti-Corruption Agency (before it became the MACC) director of investigations Datuk C. Thavarajah said Latheefa would bring in fresh new ideas to elevate the commission.

"She will be able to contribute more from her unique perspective. Due to her law background and being active in cases and issues related to the MACC, she will also very qualified to assume this post," he said.

Thavarajah also played down Latheefa's links to PKR, saying it was not a big factor in her ability to carry out her duties fairly.

"For me, she is very qualified for the job due to her background and she is very capable.

"People will always find fault in any appointment. We should focus more on what the person can bring to the job and how they can contribute," he said.

Former Bersih 2.0 chair Maria Chin Abdullah congratulated Latheefa on her new post but also questioned the nature of her appointment.

"I would like to ask whether her appointment had gone through the Parliamentary Select Committee on Major Public Appointments.

"This committee was formed for appointments like this in order to ensure that there is better transparency when it comes to key appointments," she said.

Maria added that she was glad that Latheefa's appointment was for a two-year term effective June 1.

"I hope term limits can be standardised in all key institutions especially in the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (limited to two terms), Election Commission (no limit), and the future IPCMC (to keep to two terms).

Former DAP member Shamsher Singh Thind pointed out a promise in Pakatan Harapan's election manifesto, which said that appointments to the MACC, Suhakam, EC and the Judicial Appointments Commission Malaysia must go through a Parliamentary Select Committee.

"They speak so loudly. But, the Prime Minister's Office suddenly appointed Latheefa as the chief commissioner despite the fact that the previous chief commissioner's contract expiry date on May 17 2020."

Shamsher also pointed out that Latheefa once criticised Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for practicing nepotism and cronyism on the issue of PKR state chief appointments last December.

Other criticisms on her PKR membership was raised as well. But, it was quickly dispelled after Latheefa announced her resignation from the party on Monday (June 3), via a tweet on Tuesday (June 4).

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) adviser N. Surendran also announced that Latheefa had resigned as  its executive director and announced her replacement.

"Following Latheefa's resignation from LFL to take up her new appointment, we are pleased to announce that human rights lawyer Melissa Sasidaran has been appointed as the new LFL director," he said in a statement.