What Latheefa’s appointment shows about the PM

I think we should cut the crap: if the prime minister has absolute power to appoint and dismiss important heads of agencies, it does not matter if those appointed have strong and tenacious personalities or not. Neither does it matter those appointed are from the public service or politicians. All will be beholden.

It also does not matter what the constitution or lawyers say about the appointment of heads of agencies. We should look at the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto and the sentiments of the people when they elected the PH government.

Did we not elect the new government because we were unhappy with the way the previous prime minister operated? Did we not condemn the Cabinet of the old government for being helpless, if not complicit, in checking the wayward ways of the prime minister? So why talk about the constitutional power of the prime minister now? I believe the previous prime minister also used the same argument.

Did we not believe that the new prime minister should be a prime minister of the people, for the people and by the people? Did we not expect the new prime minister to respect other institutions of government, especially the Parliament, and to yield to checks and balances? Did we not expect PH politicians, regardless of whether they are ordinary members, MPs, state assemblymen or members of the Cabinet, to keep the prime minister in check?

All I see is power continuously gravitating towards the prime minister. All I see is the continuous “eunuchisation” of strong personalities within the new government. I must say, power and privileges really can work wonders in changing us.

Have we not realised that it was exactly this kind of mentality and practices that led to the downfall of the previous government?

I know the people may not have much choice now. We elected the new government with high expectations that good governance and fair play would prevail. But in the process, we annihilated strong opposition personalities able to play the role of keeping the government in check.

We expected Dr Mahathir Mohamad to play the role of statesman in his second tenure as prime minister. As a layperson, I see very little of this. Instead, I see endless intrigues, orchestration, machination and power plays, as if he wants to remain in power for the next 20 years.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.