PUTRAJAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says it was his personal decision to appoint Latheefa Koya as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner.
"She is very straight. She says what is the truth. She doesn't mince her words.
"So we need somebody who is of strong character," said the Prime Minister.
Dr Mahathir confirmed he did not discuss the appointment with his Cabinet.
"Normally, I make the decision myself because I don't have to ask the Cabinet about who I approve.
"If she finds something against the law, she will investigate and report," he told a press conference at the Hari Raya Aidifitri open house celebration in Seri Perdana on Wednesday (June 5).
However, Dr Mahathir added that he had "listened to many people" before making his decision.
"You have to listen to everybody, then you make your assessment and you approve whoever it is you want to approve.
"I have been doing this since a long time ago," he said.
The Prime Minister added that he would be "tied" if Cabinet were to decide.
"I am free to evaluate and make the appointment," he said.
When asked about reasons for the sudden announcement, Dr Mahathir said that surprises happen.
"Sometimes it happens. For example, when DAP proposed me as Prime Minister – that was a surprise to me. But sometimes, we get surprises," he said.
Latheefa's appointment – announced on June 4 –came as a surprise to many. She replaced Datuk Seri Shukri Abdull, who quit before his tenure was to have ended in 2020.
She has resigned as a PKR member and as the executive director of Lawyers For Liberty.
Asked if the appointment was to keep everyone on their toes, Dr Mahathir said they could not be complacent.
To a question about her having been part of Pakatan Harapan before she resigned from PKR – which some have questioned on grounds of neutrality – Dr Mahathir said they could not penalise PKR members who helped them win GE14 in May last year.
"These people all worked very hard to make us win. Our manifesto says people who work for us cannot hold any posts.
"That's not fair. Of course we don't make them heads of departments or companies. They can become members of the board.
"In certain cases, if they have the right qualities, we will appoint them – even those who are in politics," he said when asked if there could be impartiality in Latheefa's appointment as she was formerly with PKR.
When asked about why no one from within the MACC was appointed to the position, Dr Mahathir said there was no need for a "monopoly".
"It's not always that we appoint people who are No. 2, No. 3 and all that. We have a right to appoint anyone we feel is fit," he said.
Dr Mahathir added that Shukri, the former MACC chief, had wanted to step down last year.
"It took time to find a replacement," he said.