Opposition leaders ask whether new MACC chief will be impartial

MCA president Wee Ka Siong says Pakatan Harapan should have appointed someone from within MACC to head the agency.

PETALING JAYA: Opposition leaders have raised questions over the appointment of Latheefa Koya as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief, with MCA president Wee Ka Siong asking if the former PKR member will be “impartial and unbiased”.

“Her appointment is mind boggling and runs counter to the promise by Pakatan Harapan to ensure that a professional MACC personnel would head the commission,” Wee said in a statement.

“Even though Latheefa has announced her resignation from PKR to take up the post, the independence of the MACC is now in question. Where is the impartiality, integrity and credibility of the MACC now?

“The image of the MACC is in tatters and any right-minded person would not condone her appointment, including even the PKR leadership.”

The Ayer Hitam MP said it would have been more appropriate to appoint a successor from within MACC to succeed Mohd Shukri Abdull, whose contract was allowed to expire ahead of its deadline on May 17, 2020.

Wee said he was told that the news came as a shock to the Cabinet.

He asked if this was an arbitrary decision by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and if the Cabinet was aware of it.

“I feel disturbed for PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as it was well known that Latheefa has always targeted Anwar,” he said.

“I hope her appointment is not some grand conspiracy scheme to stop Anwar from becoming the next prime minister.

“I hope we will see some sense of impartiality on her part in this highly questionable appointment.”

Wee said MCA’s position is clear that no active politician should head MACC or other security agencies.

“Privately, PKR leaders regard Latheefa as a loose cannon,” he added, referring to Latheefa’s vocal stance on party issues and Facebook posts on current affairs. “One cannot help but wonder if she is a suitable choice for the role.”

Latheefa has since deactivated her personal Facebook account. Only her Twitter account remains.

Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said it was “a dark moment in the history of the country” when PH appointed the former PKR central committee member to helm MACC.

He questioned PH’s promise to make MACC independent and with integrity in the fight against corruption.

“Will MACC truly become free and authoritative with Latheefa Koya’s appointment?” he asked in a statement.

PAS said it was not convinced by Latheefa’s resignation from PKR.

“At the end of the day, people will see her as a PKR member,” PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man told FMT. “She has been with the party for a long time.”

However, he said PAS welcomed Latheefa’s decision to resign from the party after being informed of her appointment.

Tuan Ibrahim also hoped that Latheefa would be fair in her new post. “We hope she will be non-partisan and not be biased to any party,” he said.

In Kota Kinabalu, former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee said Latheefa would face a tough task convincing people that she would carry out her duties fairly because of her political history.

Yong noted that while Latheefa had announced that she had resigned from PKR, the public would nonetheless associate her new position with her previous political allegiance.

“I don’t know how the government will justify her appointment. The public image of her is that she is a 100% PKR lawyer.

“She has been a high profile PKR politician for many years.

“But I suppose she might want to prove herself that she will be able to detach her political background from her anti-corruption tasks,” he told FMT.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Corruption Watch (MCW) has joined the chorus of concerns over  Latheefa’s appointment.

Its president, Jais Abdul Karim, said PH had previously stated its commitment not to appoint politicians to any positions in statutory bodies.

“The government has always held on to the principle of non-interference in the public administrative system.

“Therefore, why have they appointed an active politician to the civil service? Why have they gone back on their promise?” he asked in a statement.

Jais said there were many senior officers within the MACC ranks who were qualified to hold the position.

He also said that under the MACC Act 2009, the MACC chief must be from among civil servants.

“Appointments to the position must come from among civil servants who are professionals, capable, experienced and appropriate, aside from possessing high integrity and free from any political involvement.

“Does Latheefa Koya fall in this category, according to the Act and the system?” he asked.

Aside from senior MACC officers, Jais said that at the very least, the top post should be helmed by capable Federal Court judges.

“This is to ensure that MACC remains independent and professional, as well as being projected to be free from any external influence, notably political parties,” he said.