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Am grateful to Latheefa - but her impartiality is in question

Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad
Published:  |  Modified:

MP SPEAKS | I note the recent appointment of Latheefa Koya as Chief Commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Latheefa is both a prominent lawyer and human rights activist. 

Besides other major cases, she was part of the legal team which represented me in my trials related to the Peaceful Assembly Act - for which I am of course grateful.

Her appointment, however, has given rise to questions which need to be urgently addressed.

Latheefa was, until very recently, a member of Parti Keadilan Rakyat. While she has resigned from the party, she did so after the fact of her appointment.

Hence, concerns over her impartiality as head of the MACC - which is an increasingly and especially important public institution in the national reform process - cannot be dismissed.

More importantly, the manner of her appointment, which, again going by media reports, was decided upon by the prime minister alone, goes against the promises Pakatan Harapan made in its last general election manifesto.

The 14th Promise of the Buku Harapan clearly states that under a Pakatan Harapan government: “MACC will report directly to Parliament, rather than to the Prime Minister. To ensure effective check and balance, the number of MACC Commissioners will be increased and there will be a quota for civil society.

"One of the Commissioners will become Chairman of MACC, and all Commissioners will have security of tenure. Appointment of these Commissioners must be validated democratically by Parliament.”

It is true that the relevant amendments to the laws have not been made to provide for these pledges, including for the validation of the Commissioners by Parliament.

However, the appointment ought to have been referred to the Major Public Appointments Committee anyway, to show, if nothing else, that the Harapan federal government intends to keep its promises.

We cannot blame voters for being cynical or sceptical about our attempts to govern if we cannot deliver on such simple promises.

This has nothing to do with the new chairperson’s qualifications or her political preferences when she was a member of the PKR.

One is sure, and the public has the right to expect, that she will perform her duties without fear or favour.

However, the manner of her appointment is cause for concern as it gives rise to questions over the government’s commitment to the cause of reform.

We were elected on a platform of bold institutional and economic reforms.

Our seeming lack of progress on both these fronts is highly worrying.

The Harapan federal government must take cognisance of this if it wishes to retain the support of the Malaysian people moving forward, and most importantly, to avoid the mistakes of the past.


NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD is the MP for Setiawangsa.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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