De facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong has come to the prime minister's defence over his move to unilaterally appoint Latheefa Koya as the new MACC chief.
Citing 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 PM - Liew said that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had acted within the law.
“The PM 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 told Malaysiakini when contacted today.
Yesterday, Mahathir said that he did not consult his Cabinet ministers as he wanted to be free to make the choice, and not be “restricted” by their opinions.
The Parliamentary Special Select Committee for Public Appointments was also in the dark about it until the appointment made the news.
“It is his prerogative, he can do whatever he likes because that is what the law allows him to do,” Liew said when pressed about Mahathir’s surprise announcement.
No basis for criticism
Latheefa’s appointment - on contract till June 1, 2021 - has proved a controversial one, garnering both praise and criticism.
One issue raised was over why a senior MACC officer was not chosen to replace Shukri Abdull given that she had no experience in law enforcement.
Today, Liew stressed that a bulk of MACC and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACA) chiefs in the past had been from outside the force.
“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 added.
He further cited Section 5 (2) of the MACC Act which allowed public servants to helm the commission, but not exclusively.
Others have questioned Latheefa’s ability to be impartial as she was previously a PKR central committee member and its legal bureau chief.
She quit the party after assuming her new role.