The REAL reason why Latheefa was made MACC boss

By Mohd Effendi Ismail

By all accounts, PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had very little reason to appoint Latheefa Koya as MACC chief commissioner. Mohd Shukri Abdull was doing a decent job, with a sterling reputation to boot. In fact, having the career graft-buster leave prematurely would unnecessarily set tongues wagging.

In any case, there are other rank-and-file officers from the MACC who could have taken up the post, with experience and credentials to match. Latheefa, while a staunch defender of human rights and vocal critic of wrongdoings, lacks the investigative skills and has zero experience in public office, save for a short stint in the PJ City Council.

But the biggest problem with Latheefa’s appointment is the perceived back-pedalling by the year-old PH government, which has gone back on its word about institutional reforms. Tun Dr M was back in his “4th PM mode” when he unilaterally made the surprise announcement on Raya eve.

Critics of the move were not confined to the Umno/BN-types, or the Anwaristas like Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi or William Leong, whose Parliamentary Select Committee on Major Public Appointments, which he heads, had no inkling of. Even Lim Kit Siang had reservations about the appointment, and described the appointment as “constitutionally correct, politically wrong”. It is one of those rare occasions where Kit openly disagrees with his nemesis-turned-ally, Tun Dr M.

Why then did the PM take the politically-risky step to appoint Latheefa, at a time when PH needed to gain more goodwill than it was losing? After all, the PH Manifesto did explicitly state that the appointment of MACC chief commissioner ought to have been approved by Parliament. But the manner in which private law practitioner Latheefa was appointed was not much different from how Najib appointed outsider Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad at the height of the 1MDB scandal.

If Najib made Dzukilfi the MACC boss to cover the former’s wrongdoings on 1MDB, then it would not be far fetched to draw similar conclusions about Latheefa’s appointment. It is public knowledge that Latheefa is Azmin Ali’s Rottweiler.

Through her legal firm, Daim & Gamany, where deputy minister R. Sivarasa also used to be a partner, Latheefa had been a beneficiary of Azmin’s generosity back when Azmin was MB. This includes the firm being on the resources-flushed MBPJ’s legal panel.

Latheefa was no more than a pawn in the political one-upmanship between Dr M and Anwar, whom the former was hell-bent on thwarting the latter’s ascent to Putrajaya. Latheefa’s role was to cover up the wrongdoings of Azmin, who had left an irrefutable paper trail on his corrupt practices.

The so-called “Toyol Selangor” allegations, which first surfaced in June last year, showed that Azmin had stashed some RM300 million in overseas bank accounts ( These included accounts under his wife, children and associates, such as his political secretary-cum-Gombak Setia ADUN, Hilman Idham.

The bank statements would have been easy to verify or disprove and Azmin’s critics would certainly ramp up the pressure for MACC for answers as the Mahathir-Anwar ties continue to unravel. Eager to take over as the eighth PM, Azmin could not allow his past carelessness to thwart his once-in-a-lifetime chance.

Azmin had last year pledged to sue the owner of the “Toyol Selangor” blog which first made the startling revelations, but nothing had come of it so far. And it made sense for Azmin to avoid a court date since the documented evidence is stacked so unfavourably against himself.

So, putting Latheefa on MACC was the logical choice. Her “credibility” meant that even if she decides to “NFA” Azmin’s case, public opinion would still favour MACC, and more importantly, Azmin.

Besides, Camp Azmin had merely taken a leaf from DAP’s playbook with Latheefa’s appointment. Last year, the DAP was adamant on naming Tommy Thomas as AG, despite this putting Dr M on a collision course with the royalty. All this was to get Lim Guan Eng off the hook over “Bungalowgate”. Less than three months after Thomas was made the A-G, the case against Guan Eng was withdrawn – a move which the MACC itself expressed “surprise”.

But in Latheefa’s case, her appointment should not come as a “surprise”. There’s just too much at stake for Azmin and the paper trails can’t lie. If at all Latheefa’s appointment was solely done in the interest of graft-busting, then there should be no reason why an investigation into Azmin’s alleged millions cannot be carried out.

How come the allegations which were raised by “Toyol Selangor” coupled with certain bank statements which went viral at the time were never investigated and simply swept under the carpet? After all, PH did promise the highest level of transparency when they were elected. The new MACC boss should prove her transparency and professionalism by initiating a probe into these allegations against Azmin.