PETALING JAYA: Latheefa Koya, known as an outspoken lawyer of PKR and human rights activist, is now the head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
The sudden news of her replacing Datuk Seri Shukri Abdull as chief commissioner sent shock waves, leading to much thumbs up from supporters but brickbats from critics over the manner of the appointment.
There was much question about her PKR membership. But this was dispelled after Latheefa made known that she had resigned from the party on Monday.
Lawyers for Liberty adviser N. Surendran also announced that Latheefa had resigned as its executive director.
Meanwhile, there has been mostly positive reaction from civil society leaders to the appointment.
“Congratulations @LatheefaKoya on your appointment as MACC chief. And Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!” social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir tweeted.
Former Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan also congratulated her.
“No doubt many crooks will be uncomfortable and terrified. Another bold appointment by the Pakatan government. Well done!” she tweeted.
Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel said that although the appointment process should have been opened to applications and reviewed by a Parliamentary Select Committee, Latheefa was still the right choice.
“The random choice made in this case is a good one. Latheefa is known for her fearless, no-nonsense approach,” she said.
Gabriel also said that Latheefa does not need to have any experience in MACC to be leading the commission in combating 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 (AICHR) Eric Paulsen said Latheefa’s appointment sent out a powerful message that the government was serious in eradicating corruption and power abuse.
“It is no more business as usual. Big fish or small fish, Malaysia must be corruption free,” she said.
Former Bersih 2.0 chair Maria Chin Abdullah, in congratulating Latheefa’s appointment as the country’s first female MACC chief commissioner, however questioned the manner it was done by the Prime Minister’s Office.
“First, 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 there is better transparency when it comes to key appointments,” she said.
But Maria also said that she was glad that Latheefa’s appointment came with a two-year contract 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.
“I also look forward to seeing the appointment of the new Suhakam commissioners in the near future and hope that it will be done the right way to ensure transparency and increase public trust in our institutions,” she said.
(IPCMC, which stands for the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, is expected to get off the ground this year.)
Former DAP member Shamsher Singh Thind cited a promise in Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto, which said that the appointments to the MACC, Suhakam, Election Commission 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 is on May 17, 2020,” he said.Shamsher pointed out that Latheefa once criticised Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for practising nepotism and cronyism on the issue of PKR state chief appointments in December last year.