Bar: Latheefa’s manner of appointment is disturbing

by Theleaders-Online | June 6, 2019 2:53 am

PUCHONG: The government’s decision to bypass the parliamentary select committee in appointing rights lawyer, Latheefa Koya as MACC chief could tarnish public perception over the anti-graft body’s independence.

In a statement, Bar Council president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said while it recognises Latheefa’s service in championing human rights, the Bar was concerned over the manner of her appointment to the MACC.

“While Latheefa has been a vocal advocate against injustice, and actively involved in numerous public interest and human rights cases, the Bar is concerned with the manner the appointment took place, as well as her suitability to hold this high profile and tough position,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s Office’s announced that Latheefa will be taking over as the new MACC chief commissioner. The move received mixed response from the public.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the decision to appoint Latheefa came solely from him and he did not even consult the Cabinet on the matter.

While he agreed that the manner of appointment went against Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto, Mahathir argued that it would be unfair not to reward those who had worked hard to secure the coalition’s victory in the last general election.

Abdul Fareed, however, dismissed Mahathir’s argument and said Pakatan cannot continue ignoring its own manifesto simply by saying it was not legally binding.

He also said Pakatan’s failure to consult the parliamentary select committee to vet appointments to key government’s post reflects badly on the government’s commitment to transparency, accountability and integrity.

“We must also take note that Latheefa was a PKR member until the day her appointment was announced.

“Her closeness to the party would invite perception of conflict of interest,” said Abdul Fareed.

He also said while Latheefa is famed as a lawyer, the latter lacked the experience to lead a law enforcement agency, especially one as important as the MACC.

“The Bar calls on the relevant authorities to clarify these critical matters to ensure public trust and confidence in the independence of the institution and therefore the value of the government’s overall effort in combating corruption,” said Abdul Fareed.  

In a related development, outspoken lawyer Siti Kasim took Abdul Fareed to task for venturing into the political realm instead of sticking to the matter of law.

“I question the wisdom of our President in making this political statement.

“The Bar only issues statements when it concerns the law. This is unethical and shouldn’t be the Malaysian Bar’s stand,” Siti wrote on her Facebook page.

“The President can state his own personal opinion but not on behalf of members. I resent this political statement by the Bar.”

“Stick to the law Mr President! Not consulting the PSC is not against the law.”

“Many posts in current government or before were held by inexperienced people. The prime minister has the power to appoint who he deems fit.”

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