PM’s exclusive right to appoint MACC chief, says deputy minister

(FMT) – The prime minister enjoys an exclusive privilege to appoint Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Latheefa Koya despite public criticism, a deputy minister said.

Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said he did not want to see such privileges unduly “abused”.

However, he said all parties must also realise that the office of the prime minister comes with certain privileges “duly enjoyed by the PM alone and not by other offices”.

As such, all should allow Dr Mahathir Mohamad to handle the situation, he said in a statement.

Hanipa, who is the deputy de facto law minister, said the Pakatan Harapan government respected the spirit of democracy and the principle of the rule of law.

“I equally believe that the government will never find an easy excuse to deliberately abandon the promises laid down in the PH manifesto,” he said.

He said Mahathir was fully aware that he was governing the new Malaysia, which was totally different from the old order under the Barisan Nasional government.

The Sepang MP and former lawyer said his in response to the controversial appointment of Latheefa as the new MACC chief for a two-year period, replacing Mohd Shukri Abdull.

On Wednesday, Mahathir said he had not consulted his Cabinet ministers about the appointment as he wanted to be free to make the choice without being “restricted” by their opinions.

Hanipa said Mahathir had rightly used Latheefa’s strong character as among the reasons for picking her.

He said he had received messages and complaints from various parties on her appointment.

The majority of the complaints did not dispute Latheefa’s qualifications but on the way she was appointed.

“It is about the absence of transparency, the alleged violation of the written promise contained in the PH manifesto and the lack of any discussion in the Cabinet or the PH presidential council meeting,” he said.

Latheefa’s critics questioned her suitability on grounds that she was an active PKR member and has no experience in investigations and law enforcement.

However, her supporters said she should be given the opportunity to prove herself as non-MACC officers had in the past been appointed to lead the agency.

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim also said the prime minister must be given space and time to explain to the PH presidential council on Latheefa’s appointment.

Anwar said the appointment did not go through the due process of being confirmed by a parliamentary select committee as promised in the election manifesto.