KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — Former PKR member Latheefa Koya’s appointment as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner has drawn both praise and concern among a lawmaker and fellow lawyers.
While Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah from PKR congratulated Latheefa on her new post, she said Latheefa’s appointment raised some questions.
“Firstly, I would like to ask whether her appointment had gone through the Parliamentary Select Committee on Major Public Appointments. This committee was formed for appointments like this in order to ensure that there is better transparency when it comes to key appointments.
“Secondly, I state that Pakatan Harapan has made it clear in its manifesto that it is against political appointments. If Latheefa is still a PKR member she should resign from the party as I believe that she will do well as the new MACC chief,” she said in a statement today.
Expressing gladness at the usage of term limits for Latheefa’s appointment, the PKR lawmaker also proposed that term limits be standardised across key institutions, especially in the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) which is limited to two terms, the Election Commission (no term limits at the moment; an appointment can last until the person retires), and the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) — Maria proposed for postings be limited to two terms.
Latheefa tweeted earlier today that she had resigned as PKR member yesterday when she was told she would be appointed to head the MACC.
Human rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) advisor N. Surendran congratulated his former colleague on her appointment and wished her success in the battle against corruption.
“Latheefa’s long-standing track record as a human rights lawyer and activist will serve the MACC well in its effort to eradicate corruption,” he said.
He announced that human rights lawyer Melissa Sasidaran will replace Latheefa as LFL director.
Melissa, who was the LFL’s legal and campaign coordinator, has represented numerous civil societies and then-Opposition politicians and activists in urgent arrests, remand hearings and criminal cases in court, particularly for offences under the Sedition Act 1948, Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA), Penal Code, and Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, he added.
Corruption watchdog Center to Combat Corruption and Croynism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel praised Latheefa as a good choice to lead MACC, but expressed reservations over how the appointment was made despite prior proposals for reforms to the MACC.
"Although the appointment process should have been open to applications and reviewed by the parliament select committee, the random choice made in this case is a good one! Latheefa is known for her fearless no-nonsense approach!!" Cynthia told Malay Mail when contacted.
She said the government should implement reforms proposed by civil societies, the Bar Council, and the parliament select committee to ensure the MACC's "full and complete independence", but noted such proposed reforms were not subscribed to in the new appointment.
"So, despite Latheefa having great credentials to lift MACC to new heights — that we are not disputing, we are concerned with the appointment process," she said.
"That's why such a key post should have been open to applications. Despite that, we look forward to working with her.
“We currently work with MACC on several fronts — policy reforms, present complaints and cases on our investigative work to MACC whenever it arises, and capacity building etc. We are confident the work will strengthen with Latheefa as new chief," Cynthia added.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced Latheefa’s appointment today, adding that she would serve as the MACC’s chief commissioner for two years beginning June 1.