PETALING JAYA: Latheefa Koya’s appointment as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner continues to be questioned, especially after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted that it was his sole decision to put her in the hot seat.
While Latheefa, 46, is seen as being highly principled and courageous, organisations such as the Malaysian Bar and Bersih 2.0 are concerned over the process of her appointment and her suitability for the position.
Both say that the appointment should have gone through a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), as stated in Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto.
Bersih 2.0 said Latheefa’s
appointment highlighted a structural weakness in the country’s governance that makes abuses of power inevitable.
“While current laws allow the Prime Minister to advise the King to appoint whosoever he wants, such almost absolute power in the hand of the PM does not bode well for our parliamentary democracy system of government.
“Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak used the same power to appoint his allies into key positions in his attempt to escape the scrutiny of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal and cling on to power,” it said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Mahathir had said that it was his personal decision to appoint Latheefa, and that he did not consult the Cabinet on it.
“Normally, I make the decision myself because I don’t have to ask the Cabinet about whom I approve,” he told a press conference at the Hari Raya Aidifitri open house celebration at Seri Perdana on Wednesday.
Latheefa’s appointment – announced on June 4 – came as a surprise to many. She replaced Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull, who quit before his tenure was to have ended in 2020.
She subsequently resigned as a PKR member and as the executive director of Lawyers for Liberty.
PKR chief organising secretary Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said that the manner of her appointment is cause for concern as it gives rise to questions over the government’s commitment to reforms.
“We were elected on a platform of bold institutional and economic reforms.
“Our seeming lack of progress on both these fronts is highly worrying,” he said, adding that concerns of impartiality as head of MACC could not be dismissed.
Malaysian Bar president Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said there was no justification for the PSC not to be consulted to review the selection of the new MACC chief and that an obvious oversight of this nature did not reflect well on the resolve of the government in practising transparency, accountability, integrity and good governance.
“The government cannot continue to say that the manifesto is not binding, as the pledges in the manifesto had been made in order to convince the rakyat to vote it into power,” he said.
Abdul Fareed also said that Latheefa had long been an active PKR member who publicly took a strong stand in relation to party matters and had served on its central committee among others.
He said that Latheefa’s resignation as a party member did not significantly alter the unfavourable public perception that her appointment is clearly one of political patronage, as PKR is a vital component of the federal government.
Abdul Fareed also said that Latheefa had no experience at all in any law enforcement agency, and that her new role required a distinct skill set, namely that of knowledge and familiarity in law enforcement and investigation.