After Latheefa’s appointment, analysts differ on whether it will backfire on PH

Awang Azman Awang Pawi says the manner in which Latheefa Koya was appointed MAAC chief went against PH’s election promise. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: An academic warned of a possible erosion in the confidence of the people in Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Pakatan Harapan (PH) should it continue to not keep to the promises it made prior to the 14th general election (GE14).

This follows the admission by Mahathir that he had decided to appoint Latheefa Koya as the new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief without first consulting his Cabinet.

Universiti Malaya’s Assoc Prof Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the issue concerning Latheefa’s appointment had nothing to do with her credentials but the manner in which she had been appointed.

He pointed out that in the literal sense, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 provides that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may appoint the MACC head on the advice of the prime minister.

Awang Azman said there was no dispute that Latheefa possessed the qualifications needed to helm the agency but the manner in which she had been appointed went against the PH election promise.

“They had previously set up a Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Appointments to ensure a check and balance and transparency of such appointments.

“However, it seems now the committee serves little purpose and has minimal impact.

“It appears the promise made was just cosmetic and lip service rendered by PH in desperately trying to garner votes from Malaysians.

“PH must be careful. It is not yet on solid foundation. If they keep on doing things which do not please the people, they could end up losing the next election,” he told FMT.

However, one political analyst is not convinced Mahathir’s move will jeopardise confidence in him and the coalition.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun said Latheefa is a well respected human rights lawyer who legally or politically defended, among others, those who were persecuted for revealing corrupt or kleptocratic practices in the previous government.

“It is mainly those who were at the receiving end of her sharp criticism as well as those opportunists from the previous regime who are trying to make a hoo-ha out of her appointment,” he told FMT.

Oh noted that while it would have been nice for Mahathir to consult the Cabinet and the PSC, the committee, at this point, is not constitutionally mandated.

“The move taken by Mahathir is typical, appointing mavericks to various important positions to try to jolt things up a bit.

“This was the case with Anwar Ibrahim in the 1980s, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin, and now Latheefa,” he said.