Malaysia anti-graft top job controversy a litmus test for Anwar in PM succession plans

Facebook screengrab/ Azmin Ali

The controversial appointment of Latheefa Beebi Koya to head the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is proving to be a litmus test for Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and a trouble spot for Anwar Ibrahim who is to succeed Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad soon.

At least, that was the plan of the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition during last year’s General Election.

Latheefa, whose appointment by Dr Mahathir made the headlines last week, resigned from the PKR to step into her new role a day later. A close ally of PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, Latheefa was in the middle of a well-publicized rift that shook the PKR recently. Rumours has pitted Azmin against Anwar in the succession plan.

Therefore, this has led to some speculation that Latheefah’s appointment may be a sign the premiership post may not be Anwar’s.

Ragunath Kesavan, former President of the Malaysian Bar, told The Independent, he is favour of the appointment although the manner of her appointment is not ideal but she is most qualified and suitable for the position. “She is known for her independence and integrity and is fearless in doing the right thing.”

Democratic Action Party Member of Parliament Charles Santiago says on a personal level, he sees the appointment as a good one. “Going forward, there is no problem with Latheefa herself,” citing her work in human rights.

For Mr Ragunath, there is a deeper problem, and that is with Pakatan Harapan itself. “This appointment also exposes the weakness in the structure of leadership within the government and raises major issues of governance and accountability that has to be addressed by Pakatan. The powers of the PM must be subject to collective decision-making processes.”

The current ruling coalition, he says, has been unsuccessful in fighting for reforms for the rule of law, and therefore much power still lies with the Prime Minister.

“The failure of Pakatan to push ahead reforms for the rule of law allows such wide powers remaining in the hands of the PM. The positive is that the huge outcry although targeted at Latheefa Koya unfairly raises issues of governance that PH must address as soon as possible to counter the massive drop in the trust deficit from the people.”

For Santiago, the new appointment may have thrown a wrench into the succession plan, because of Latheefa’s closeness with the Economic Affairs Minister, Azmin.

Anwar, the MP says, may see his chances of becoming Prime Minister diminishing.

However, Latheefa’s appointment is a done deal, as a Parliamentary Select Committee can only advise, and not appoint. Only Dr Mahathir has the power to do that, even though many in the PKR who wish to stick to their manifesto, are not in agreement with this.

Dr Mahathir appointing Latheefa is perfectly legal, Santiago told The independent.

He believes the Prime Minister needs to tread more carefully in forthcoming appointments. He “needs to be more respectful of the process,” Santiago said.”/ TISG

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