Ministers say Cabinet didn’t discuss Latheefa’s appointment as MACC chief

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali speaks to reporters during the Prime Minister’s Raya Open House at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya June 5, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali speaks to reporters during the Prime Minister’s Raya Open House at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya June 5, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

PUTRAJAYA, June 5 — The appointment of Latheefa Koya as the new head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was not raised at all during Cabinet discussions, several ministers said today.

Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail who first disclosed it to reporters at the Cabinet’s Raya open house celebration in Seri Perdana here also said he was “blindsided” when asked about the unexpected MACC leadership change.

“We are not aware. No, it was not discussed in the Cabinet or the Pakatan Harapan presidential council meetings,” he said.

Latheefa, a vocal lawyer, made history as the first woman appointed to head the MACC.

The Prime Minister’s Office made the announcement yesterday that Latheefa’s appointment was effective from June 1 — before her resignation from PKR on June 3 — replacing Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull whose contract was to expire on May 17, 2020.

Asked to respond to the criticism levelled against Latheefa that her appointment contradicted the election manifesto, Saifuddin said Pakatan Harapan still held to the stance that key appointments in MACC must go through a Parliament Select Committee on major public appointments.

“However, at this time, I would like to refrain from commenting more until we (Cabinet) obtain further clarifications on the matter,” he said.

Multimedia and Communications Minister Gobind Singh Deo greets members of the public during the Prime Minister’s Raya Open House at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya June 5, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Multimedia and Communications Minister Gobind Singh Deo greets members of the public during the Prime Minister’s Raya Open House at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya June 5, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo affirmed Saifuddin Nasution’s remark, saying that the matter was not brought up at any Cabinet meeting.

But he added that he welcomed Latheefa’s appointment, saying “she has got a lot to do”.

“I have known Latheefa ever since she and I were in practice together. She is definitely somebody who is very familiar with the laws that are applicable to her department, and we wish her well,” he said.

When asked if he was shocked by the appointment, Gobind disagreed.

He reiterated that Latheefa was capable, experienced and equipped with a proper understanding of the law.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali also said he was unaware of Latheefa’s appointment as he had only just returned from performing the Haj.

Azmin also said that he was certain that her appointment was based on merit as Latheefa has been in the legal service for many decades.

“I am sure her appointment is based on merit, and not necessarily her political ideology.

“She has not been active in the party for some time because she has been very busy and too occupied with her legal matters in court. I think we should give her an opportunity to serve the body,” he said.

He further added that he was only informed of Latheefa’s appointment through the media.

According to Promise 14 of the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto, the appointment of MACC commissioners must be validated by Parliament through a Select Committee overseeing the appointments of key national positions.