Dr M says didn’t consult Cabinet on Latheefa to avoid constraints of ministers’ views

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks to reporters during his Hari Raya Open House at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya June 5, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks to reporters during his Hari Raya Open House at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya June 5, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

PUTRAJAYA, June 5 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mahathir confirmed today that he did not seek his Cabinet’s views on Latheefa Koya’s selection as the new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief.

Dr Mahathir explained that he wanted the freedom to choose the best candidate in his view and consulting his Cabinet would have constrained him on the decision that he pointed out was his prerogative.

“I didn’t discuss with the Cabinet.

“Normally I make the decision myself because I don’t have to ask the Cabinet as to who I approve,” he told reporters at the Seri Perdana residence here during an open house event.

On federal ministers’ comments that they were unaware of Latheefa’s appointment prior to yesterday’s announcement, the PM reiterated that he was not required to seek the Cabinet’s views in this matter.

“I ask others that have knowledge about this person’s character. No need for the Cabinet to make the decision. If Cabinet decides, it binds me. So with this, I am free to assess whoever is proposed and I choose,” he said.

Asked regarding the process for such appointments, Dr Mahathir said: “I listen to many quarters and then I make the decision.

“It's always like that. You have to listen to everybody and then you make your assessment, and you approve whoever it is that you want to approve. I've been doing this a long, long time ago,” he added.

When it was noted that the announcement of Latheefa’s appointment on Hari Raya eve came as a shock to ministers, Dr Mahathir said not everything in life was predictable.

“For example, the DAP proposed me as a prime minister. That was a surprise to me.

“Sometimes we get surprises,” he said.

On whether he was trying to keep the people around him on their toes, Dr Mahathir said people should not be complacent and given to expectations.

Dr Mahathir today explained that he had decided on Latheefa to head MACC due to her “strong character”, noting that she does not mince her words when it comes to the truth.

“I took into account the character. I think some people are very straightforward, they don’t fear expressing their views and they are not unduly influenced by other people,” he said.