Malaysia Dateline

‘On Latheefa Koya’s appointment’

Latheefa Koya is indeed strong, independent and fair without which she would not have cut her teeth as the Executive Director of Lawyers for Liberty.

But she is the wrong candidate to be the head of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) for five reasons, potentially six reasons.

First and foremost, she accepted the position almost on sheer stealth. No one in PKR—–her former party——-knew of her “acceptance”. The unwillingness to explain her appointment from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir has given away the impression, rightly or wrongly, she has privileged her independent ambition over due processes.

Secondly, justice must be seen to be done. Not just done. By bringing her strong pro human rights portfolio into the very apex of MACC, the civil society organizations can be rest assured she will lead MACC well. But then if she did, questions would linger how she changed her sail in PKR almost instantly. If she is changing it once, she is capable of changing it again and again. That leads one to wonder if MACC can be firm and steady it its course to rid Malaysia of partisan corruption ? In other words, corruption that comes from the tendency to ignore someone in power, or, slated to be in power. To the degree, iustice cannot be seen to be done, the MACC has entered an age where one of it’s wings appeared to be clipped.

Thirdly, the performance of MACC can lead to the popularity and disavowal of the future government of Pakatan Harapan by the next general election. There are many pending cases in MACC that are awaiting the fall of the government of Pakatan Harapan so that they enjoy a new leash of (political) life through the collapse of the entire edifice of the government. Latheefa Koya’s appointment has enhanced the hopes of these individuals who were once on the take.

Fourthly, Lawyers of Liberty, unlike Professor Shaq Faruqi, have never produced much. There are no major publications or papers to suggest a clear and succint understanding of the Malaysian Constitution.

To the degree Lawyers of Liberty did, it was through the effort of one of their fellow members Edmund Bon, also a lawyer, to educate Malaysians on the importance of the Malaysian Constitution. Where are the body of their works then, and now ? This issue has to be raised as MACC is comprised of an arm to educate civil servants and the likes not to be induced by corruption. With Latheefa Koya strong in sound bites, then suddenly quiet on her appointment, one has to wonder aloud if she is what she makes herself look to be ?

Finally, Latheefa Koya has been parachuted into the top of MACC. Such candidates suffer from two structural disadvantages. One, the subordinates like to prolong the learning process of the new man, in this case, woman, to run rings around her. Two, precisely due to the former, she will fight back; leading to other subordinates to hoard all information to see who will prevail: would it be the Little Napoleons or Latheefa Koya the Queen of MACC ?

All of the above suggest more politics, intentional or otherwise, imported into MACC. Given her two year term, her tenure will run into the future Premiership of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, which is poised to take over the middle of next year. By then Latheefa Koya would have only completed the first year of her service, with one more year to go.

While Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, a man of his word, will focus on governing the country well based on the Manifesto of Pakatan Harapan, which includes referring all corruption issues to the vetting of the parliamentary select committee, Latheefa Koya has subtly or openly challenged her own party President before. A New Malaysia needs anti corruption and strong economic growth, not petty politicking anymore. Latheefa Koya will take the country into the head winds of fisaparous which some political commentators have rightly called Game of Thrones.