Questions raised over Latheefa’s appointment as new MACC chief

Latheefa Koya will be MACC chief for two years effective June 1.

PETALING JAYA: An MP has questioned whether Latheefa Koya’s appointment as the new head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had gone through the Parliamentary Select Committee on appointments to government agencies.

“There needs to be better transparency on such appointments,” Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah said, when commenting on the appointment of the former PKR central committee member as the new MACC chief.

Speaking to FMT, Maria also said Latheefa should resign from PKR.

She said Pakatan Harapan’s GE14 manifesto had made it clear that it was against political appointments.

Latheefa, who will serve for two years effective June 1, is a normal party member.

Other civil society groups and activists, including Bersih 2.0, the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) and former Transparency International Malaysia president Ramon Navaratnam, also said Latheefa should resign from PKR.

However, they welcomed her appointment, citing the lawyer’s “no-nonsense” approach.

“She is known to be a highly principled and courageous lawyer. Such qualities would make her a great chief of MACC,” said Bersih chairman Thomas Fann.

Fann said Latheefa must also cease making any comments which may be perceived as partisan.

Navaratnam, meanwhile, said it would be better for Latheefa to leave PKR to avoid criticisms that she may not act independently and fairly.

He said Latheefa should also quit as Lawyers for Liberty executive director.

C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said the appointment of the MACC chief commissioner should have been open to those nominated and reviewed by the Parliamentary Select Committee.

But she said the “random choice” made was still a good one.

“Latheefa is known for her fearless no-nonsense approach,” she told FMT.

Former Johor DAP chief Dr Boo Cheng Hau said all politicians should be barred from holding positions in the judiciary and law enforcement agencies.

“We have to uphold the Pakatan Harapan manifesto and promises to have good governance,” he said, referring to the manifesto promise on political appointees.

“The independence of MACC and law enforcement bodies has to be upheld.

“My position has been consistent that such appointments should be referred to Parliament for approval.”

Activist Ambiga Sreenevasan, in welcoming Latheefa’s appointment, wished her all the best in what she described as a “difficult and onerous” task.

“But I have no doubt she will act at all times without fear or favour in upholding the rule of law.

“Her experience in fighting some of the most difficult human rights cases will stand her in good stead,” she said.

Latheefa replaces Mohd Shukri Abdull, whose contract was allowed to expire ahead of its deadline on May 17, 2020.