Split widens in PKR over Latheefa’s appointment

Tian Chua (left) and Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

PETALING JAYA: The split within the PKR leadership has widened over Latheefa Koya’s appointment as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief, with a vice-president defending the decision and a central leadership council member pushing for her resignation.

In a statement, vice-president Tian Chua noted that critics took issue with the manner in which Latheefa was appointed, with many arguing that it had to be “validated democratically by Parliament”.

He said what this meant is that the Pakatan Harapan administration has to create a mechanism so that “MACC can be given more fangs and also all commissioners must be validated by Parliament”.

The former Batu MP said while PH has promised that key appointments to important bodies such as the Attorney-General’s Chambers, MACC and Bank Negara “must be approved by a suitable parliamentary committee”, no such procedure has been created yet.

The law must be amended to empower “a suitable parliamentary committee” to approve or validate the appointments of all these positions, such as the heads of the Human Rights Commission, Election Commission and MACC, he said.

Tian Chua said while there were opinions, including from a handful of MPs, that the newly formed Special Parliamentary Select Committees should be tasked with the job of approving such appointments, there was insufficient legal framework or guidelines to equip any of these committees to undertake such tasks currently.

“Backbenchers and concerned parties still have a lot of work to do to upgrade various institutions,” he said.

He also said Latheefa was competent in both her legal knowledge and commitment to work.

Despite the fact that she had held various party posts, he said Latheefa’s heart “was never in partisan politics”, with her admitting that she was not suited for partisan politics.

“Several times, she was offered the chance to contest in elections and she flatly refused each offer,” he said.

However, Tian Chua said Latheefa must demonstrate her merit by executing MACC’s mission with impeccable integrity.

The public will be convinced if she continues to “exercise an independent mind and bows to no power in the course of her duty”, he said.

Tian Chia said the only concern he has is whether her strong character might cause friction among colleagues or a negative reaction from government officials.

“But I hope that over time, she will be able to develop a conciliatory and professional attitude when working with the civil service. Let’s give her time to prove her ability.”

PKR MP urges people to sign petition against Latheefa

Tian Chua’s support for Latheefa comes hours after PKR central leadership council member Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad urged people to sign a petition seeking her resignation.

In a tweet, Nik Nazmi said PH had given its commitment that the appointment of the head of MACC must be validated by a parliamentary select committee.

“Let us all sign this petition to ensure this commitment is fulfilled,” the Setiawangsa MP, who spoke out against Latheefa’s appointment a few days ago, said when referring to the change.org petition.

“This issue is bigger than Latheefa Koya, but it is about the reforms promised.”

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted that he did not discuss Latheefa’s appointment with his Cabinet. Yesterday, he said his decision was final and there would be no “U-turn”.

Wangsa Maju MP and PKR treasurer-general Dr Tan Yee Kew has also signed the petition, on grounds that the appointment had “clearly deviated from the principle and spirit of institutional reforms”.

Since it was started on June 6, the petition – created by an account called Malaysia Baharu – has garnered over 5,400 signatures.

Latheefa, a rights activist lawyer, took over as MACC chief on June 1, replacing Mohd Shukri Abdull, whose contract was allowed to expire ahead of its deadline on May 17, 2020.

Her appointment drew brickbats, with some questioning the manner in which she was picked and if she would be impartial in carrying out her duties.

She has since resigned from PKR.