ADUN SPEAKS | In relative terms, the appointment of Latheefa Koya as the new MACC chief commissioner to replace Mohd Shukri Abdull, who resigned ahead of the expiry of his term of office, is a development that needs serious attention.
Latheefa resigned from PKR’s legal bureau as well as from the party just before her appointment by none other than Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad - and this was something that caught Malaysians by surprise.
This appointment was a surprise on a few counts.
First, it set aside parliamentary procedures, such as the post requiring the approval process of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Public Appointments.
Second, the matter of her appointment was not tabled in the Cabinet but was an appointment made directly by Mahathir.
Third, I am not sure whether her appointment obtained the consent of PKR’s president Anwar Ibrahim in the first place.
Latheefa, as a lawyer and crusader for human rights, has all the qualities and abilities to take on the job as the MACC chief.
She has been outspoken on many issues, even against the leaders of the Pakatan Harapan government.
However, despite her resignation from PKR, there are doubts as to whether she will be above partisan politics in Harapan, or even in PKR.
And again, there are also doubts as to whether her new role might make it possible for her to assume complete neutrality in the new job.
Of late, she has been critical of Anwar and his family.
She was often at loggerheads with Anwar’s daughter and heir apparent in PKR, Nurul Izzah (photo).
It is common knowledge that Latheefa has a much closer relationship with PKR deputy president Azmin Ali than with Anwar himself.
Azmin was one of the persons who congratulated Latheefa on her appointment.
He said he had no doubts that she would make a fine MACC chief.
It was not that Azmin was in the complete dark about the appointment of Latheefa. Yes, the Cabinet was not consulted but some ministers might have been.
In the ultimate sense, Mahathir took the sole responsibility in her appointment. But, surely, the decision was not without consultation?
There are grounds to believe that Azmin (photo, below) could have been the prime mover in this Game of Thrones.
Again, I have no doubts about the ability and courage of Latheefa to take on the role of MACC chief.
It is not her abilities and courage but whether she has assumed a role that could be political in nature, immaterial of whether she is aware or not.
She could have been thrust into a role, wittingly or unwittingly, that might be more related to inter-party or inter-coalition politics, rather than a fight against corruption minus the politics.
The argument by some NGOs that her appointment would send shivers down the spines of those who are corrupt must be weighed against the walls that stand in her way to eradicate the menace of corruption in the country.
With the MACC being under the Prime Minister’s Department, there is a lack of parliamentary oversight and lack of autonomy for the MACC. The restricted role of its chief in major investigations also seriously affect the impartiality of the MACC.
The new chief might have all good intentions and be ever-willing to take on the real crooks, but given the structural confines of the MACC, there are limits to what she or he can do.
Let us not jump to conclusions about the new chief causing a panic among the crooks. Give Latheefa time.
There is already talk going around that Latheefa’s appointment has really got nothing to do with the fight against corruption, but is more aimed at de-stabilising the conditions that would lead to Anwar (photo) taking over from Mahathir as the next prime minister of the country.
I am sure that Latheefa is not a pawn in the new game of politics that might be unfolding. But the fact that she had been critical of Anwar and his family and is considered close to Azmin do not rule out the talk of she being used in a planned political agenda.
So far, Anwar has not said a word about her appointment and whether he was consulted on this matter.
Even, if Mahathir had bypassed the Cabinet, surely he must have consulted with Anwar, the prime minister-in-waiting.
I am not sure.
Actually, I am very pleased that Latheefa was appointed to this position. Unlike the meek civil servants, she will be different.
I am sure she will have all the necessary traits and abilities to go after those who have been hiding and those who are seeking new political friends.
But then, there are limits, totally external to her.
P RAMASAMY is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister (II) for Penang.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.