Latheefa: My job is clear, will go after corruption anywhere and everywhere it’s found

Latheefa serves as MACC chief for two years beginning June 1. — Picture courtesy of MACC
Latheefa serves as MACC chief for two years beginning June 1. — Picture courtesy of MACC

KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — Newly-installed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Latheefa Koya pledged the eradication of corruption “anywhere and everywhere” it is found today, the first day on the job.

“This morning I started my first full day as chief commissioner of the MACC.

“My job is clear. It is to go after corruption anywhere and everywhere it is found,” she said in a statement.

The former director of human rights group Lawyers for Liberty who recently quit from PKR also acknowledged the many criticisms in the wake of her unilateral appointment by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Everyone is entitled to question, criticise or express their opinion, so that is alright,” she said.

Latheefa added that she would be looking to transform Malaysia into a nation free of corruption and one that denounces such malpractices and culture.

“I will also be looking into long term measures, including education, to create a culture of intolerance to corruption.

It is the fundamental right of every Malaysian to live, work and prosper in a corruption free society,” she added.

Latheefa’s appointment as MACC chief was announced on the eve of Hari Raya Puasa on June 4, but took effect June 1. She tendered her resignation from PKR in an email on June 3.

She replaces Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull who was said to have decided to shorten his service contract that was to end in May 2020.

Latheefa’s appointment has drawn mixed responses, including from within the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) with several ministers defending Dr Mahathir’s decision, while others have questioned his move that went against their coalition election manifesto and the purpose of setting up parliamentary oversight committees.

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yesterday said Dr Mahathir needed to use the proper channels, either the Cabinet or the PH leadership council, to clarify his unilateral decision.

Bukit Gelugor MP and DAP legal bureau chief Ramkarpal Singh is among the internal critics, saying the point of PH’s 14th election promise about having Parliament validate the appointment of MACC commissioners was to ensure check and balance.

The Malaysian Bar had also questioned the decision, claiming the unilateral appointment could jeopardise the commission’s perceived independence, and stressed that PH cannot continue to ignore its own manifesto pledges by simply claiming these were not legally binding.

De facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong had also weighed in, saying the law did not compel the prime minister to refer to the Cabinet or to the parliamentary select committee before appointing the MACC chief.

Additionally, Deputy Rural Development Minister R. Sivarasa, a PKR lawmaker, said Latheefa’s appointment as chief commissioner was sending a clear message to the agency and other institutions that it was no longer “business as usual”.