Dr M: Latheefa’s Appointment My Own Decision

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PM didn’t consult Cabinet on Latheefa to avoid constraints of ministers’ views.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the appointment of Latheefa Beebi Koya as the new Chief Commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was made based on his decision alone.

“I did not discuss with the Cabinet. Normally, I make (such) decisions myself because I don’t have to ask the Cabinet as to whom I approved,” he told reporters at the Hari Raya open house of the Prime Minister and Cabinet at the Seri Perdana Complex in Putrajaya today.

However, Dr Mahathir said he had listened to the views of various parties and assessed them before making the decision.

“I didn’t have to ask the Cabinet; I asked other people who know about the character of this person and there was no need for the Cabinet to decide, (because) if the Cabinet makes a decision it restricts me. So in this, I was free to evaluate whoever was proposed and I picked,” he said.

Asked why Latheefa was picked, he said: “She is very straight. She says what is the truth. She doesn’t mince her words. So we need somebody who is a strong character.”

“If she finds something against the law, she will investigate and report,” he added.

When asked about the surprise created by the sudden announcement, Dr Mahathir said that such announcements happen.

“Sometimes it happens. For example, when DAP proposed me as Prime Minister, that was a surprise to me. But sometimes, we get surprises,” he said.

Latheefa’s appointment, announced on June 4, came as a surprise to many. She replaces Datuk Seri Shukri Abdull, who had quit even before his tenure was to have ended in 2020.

She has resigned as a PKR member and as the executive director of Lawyers For Liberty.

She had been an outspoken critic against both the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan governments.

Latheefa had also often taken up cases involving deaths in custody and stateless children.

While many NGO leaders lauded her appointment, some also questioned whether Latheefa’s links to PKR would sully her and MACC’s supposed impartiality. She was previously the party’s Legal Affairs Bureau chief.

Asked if the appointment was to keep everyone on their toes, Dr Mahathir said they could not be complacent.

When pointed out that the appointment seemingly contradicted Pakatan Harapan’s 14th general election manifesto promise to refer such key appointments to Parliament, Dr Mahathir said this was not fair to those who were qualified.

“During the time we tried to win our election, these people worked very hard to ensure our win but our manifesto says people who worked for us cannot hold any post, that’s not fair.

“Of course we don’t make them heads of department or companies; we make them members of the board but in certain cases, if they have the right quality we will appoint even those who are in politics,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the top post in a government agency is not a monopoly and there is no guarantee that only the number two or three should be appointed to take over from the number one.

“Well, sometimes we choose people from outside… We have a right to approve anybody who we think fit,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said Shukri had told him of his intention to resign last year.

“It took time to find a replacement,” he said.

Earlier report: Jun 4, Shukri Abdull Resigns, Lawyer Latheefa Koya Takes over as MACC Chief