KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 — De facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong today said that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad acted within the law to appoint Latheefa Koya as the new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief.

Responding to Malaysiakini’s queries, Liew cited Section 5 (1) of the MACC Act 2009 — which states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is to appoint the chief commissioner on the advice of the prime minister.

Liew said this shows Dr Mahathir had acted within the law.

“The prime minister has exercised his discretion under this particular provision to (suggest the) appointment of Latheefa as the chief commissioner.

“There is nothing that says that he must refer the appointment to the (parliamentary) select committee or to the Cabinet for approval,” he was quoted saying when contacted by the news portal.

The Prime Minister’s Office unexpectedly announced Latheefa as the new MACC chief on Tuesday to mixed response from Malaysians.

During the government’s Hari Raya open house yesterday, Dr Mahathir confirmed he made the decision unilaterally and did not consult his Cabinet as he did not want to be bound by their views.

He acknowledged that the appointment was inconsistent with the pact’s manifesto, but argued that it would be unfair if PH could not reward those who had worked hard to help it win the 14th general election.

Liew further when pressed about Dr Mahathir’s surprise announcement said that it is the prime minister’s prerogative to do as he pleased within the law.

He also reasoned that a bulk of MACC and Anti-Corruption Agency chiefs in the past had been outsiders after concerns raised over why a senior MACC officer was not chosen to replace Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull as chief commissioner.

“So the argument by certain quarters (asking) why is the appointment not from the civil service or within the MACC has no basis whatsoever, it is not relevant at all,” he said, citing Section 5 (2) of the MACC Act which allowed public servants to helm the commission, but not exclusively.

Dr Mahathir had 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.