Mahathir appoints graft boss, bypassing colleagues 

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has appointed the former Lawyers For Liberty director Latheefa Koya (pictured) for a two-year term as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief.

“I didn’t discuss with the cabinet. Normally I make the decision myself because I don’t have to ask the cabinet as to who I approve,” the 93-year-old said, according to Malaysiakini.

Malaysia’s approach to corruption is currently under the international microscope amid the US$4.5 billion 1MDB scandal that brought Mahathir back to the premiership after a 15-year retirement. 

“I ask others that have knowledge about this person’s character. No need for the cabinet to make the decision. If cabinet decides, it binds me. So with this, I am free to assess whoever is proposed and I choose,” the old man in a hurry said, Malay Mail reported.

Speculation continues to surround Mahathir’s resignation date and appears to be in a rush to clean up the Malaysian government before bowing out. 

“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,” Mahathir added.

Her appointment was welcomed by the newly formed New Sarawak Native People’s Party. 

“In order to show that Latheefa is firm and would take action against any wrongdoing, she must act without fear and favour,” said party spokesman William Mangor.

“Besides, we want and hope that her first task is to reopen investigation on the ‘corridors of powers’ in Sarawak as there’s a lot of ‘big fish’ here,” he added.

Latheefa’s appointment surprised many observers as she replaces Shukri Abdull, who stepped down a year before his contract expired. 

Latheefa was a Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) central committee member and has a legal background. She has represented several PKR leaders in court.

The lawyer has now left PKR, which is a junior partner in the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, but several online comments drew parallels with the political appointments made by the previous government of Najib Razak. The PH administration had pledged to end the practice.

PH made a manifesto commitment ahead of the May 2018’s general election to make the appointment through a parliamentary select committee. 

Mangor said the government must explain why the appointment did not go through parliament, adding that a lack of accountability would reflect badly on the corruption-busting administration.


Latheefa Koya. Picture credit: Wikimedia