Can Latheefa Koya tame the beast? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, June 08, 2019
Malaysiakini : “However, that does not mean he is legally guilty in the eyes of
the law. Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor remain innocent until the
court passes a verdict of guilty.” - Latheefa Koya
| Where do we begin with the appointment of Latheefa Koya as the new
MACC chief? For a start, we begin by putting our cards on the table. I
will go first. I am one of those people who hopes that Latheefa
will play a constructive role in creating a new Malaysia in her new job.
I am realistic – pessimistic may be a better word – that there is only
so much she can do in two years and political agendas will define her
reality, not legal ones. This is the nature of big picture politics.
quote that opens this piece reflects this. Latheefa was responding to
DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang’s rather preposterous notion that “innocent
until proven guilty” should not apply to former premier Abdul Najib
Razak because he lost the election. In making this rebuttal, Latheefa
established herself – in the mind of this writer at least – as one of
the few political operatives who would buck the party line and engage in
rhetoric other than partisan-based nonsense.
Keep in mind that in an interview with Malaysiakini,
Latheefa described herself as a political activist, ("By the way I
prefer to be called a 'political activist' than a 'politician') hence
she would (or should) appreciate all this noise coming from certain
quarters who are concerned in the way how she was appointed. Her remarks
past and contemporary demonstrate that even Latheefa Koya thinks the
process is important and this is not merely “noise”.
was acting within the law when he made Latheefa the head of the MACC.
This should not be in dispute. While his actions were “legal”, his
rhetoric supporting his actions were the usual strongman nonsense. This
revolved around mocking consensus, demonstrating yet again his
dismissive view of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, secure in the
knowledge that the weltanschauung that kept him in power for
years would support his decision even though it was a mockery of the
“reform” agenda that Harapan campaigned on.
Just last year, Mahathir said that the MACC and National Audit Department should be off limits
to the prime minister - “This means that the prime minister and the
government will not have the power to [appoint,] dismiss or demote the
positions [in these bodies],” he said. “Furthermore, even the budget
allocation for these bodies will be determined not by the government but
by the select committee.”
So while some like PKR leader William
Leong are vilified by partisans, it just goes to show that when it comes
to the old man, he says things but he has no real intention of carrying
them out. So when people question the manner of this appointment and
speculate on the political basis of this appointment, it is not only
credible but also a reminder to rational Malaysians that we should
always be mindful of what political operatives say and do, especially
when it comes to a political operative like Mahathir Mohamad. So when Amanah president Mohamad Sabu says that the Grand Poobah will “assess” Latheefa’s performance, this sounds more ominous than reassuring. But hey, that’s just me.
example of big-picture politics would be the desire of many of Latheefa
supporters that she will take down the old man in Sarawak – Abdul Taib
Mahmud. Let us look at this realistically. The current Grand Poobah of
Malaysia has said that people always talk about “Taib’s corruption” and
to bring him “evidence”.
At the beginning of the year, Taib was
cleared of all charges with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department
Liew Vui Keong stating, “Attorney-General Tommy Thomas had studied the
case against Taib and determined that no prosecution is necessary. The minister-in-charge of legal affairs said the MACC had received information on the allegations from the Bruno Manser Fund and Sarawak Report. “But the contents of such information is the same as was previously investigated.”
Latheefa Koya offer “new evidence” against the alleged robber baron in
Sarawak? The reality is that going after someone like Taib is a
political consideration instead of a legal one. After all, if it has
been determined that no prosecution is necessary, then going after the
tiger may seem futile unless Latheefa somehow manages to bring new
evidence within two years.
would her boss who has been called a kleptocrat - by the same people
who now want us to give him leeway - take to this? After all, Sabah and
Sarawak are vitally important theatres of operation for Harapan’s
political war and Taib is part of a historical chain of money politics
between personalities who now lead this country and their protégés who
are waiting for their chance to claim the throne.
Keep in mind
that Mahathir has claimed that removing Najib has reduced corruption by
significantly - “So I would say we have reduced corruption by about 90
percent. We no longer have people complaining when they go to the
office, they ask for money." In the same interview,
he also said that Najib was a worse leader than PKR leader Anwar
Ibrahim so he worked with Anwar to replace Najib. This, of course, is
kind of strange but indicative of the politics at play here.
since corruption has been reduced by 90 percent, perhaps Latheefa does
not have such a difficult task ahead of her. So all this talk of sending
down the spine of corrupt people should be viewed with skepticism
considering Harapan has made Najib the sole architect of the corrupt
system that they vowed to reform.
Why does someone like Lim Kit
Siang suddenly claim that the MACC should not be complacent? Hasn't he
been writing screeds goading the authorities to investigate various
individuals instead of corralling support to reform institutions which
would empower those institutions to carry out their remit without fear
the manner of Latheefa’s appointment, although futile, is not merely
noise which amounts to nothing though it does mean we have to be aware
of the politics surrounding the issue. For instance, Penang Deputy Chief
Minister P Ramasamy wrote a bold piece
pointing to the internal schisms at play in PKR, which is a valid
point, but he does not go into the political concerns of the DAP. The
DAP has hitched its wagon to Anwar and any attempt to destabilise his
power base is of concern to his allies.
And let us take Gerakan's call
for Latheefa to demonstrate her impartiality by reopening the
investigation on Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. While the charges have
been dropped and the base is convinced that these were trumped-up
charges, I wonder what the response would be if the new MACC chief did
reopen the investigation into Lim Guan Eng and the political fallout from
such a move.
It would be more constructive if political operatives
discussed ways to curtail the power of the PM and how to reform
institutions (the latter like how Mahathir talks about but has no
interest in doing) instead of taking the opportunity to score cheap
political points by trolling each other's base.
You do not need a
two-thirds majority to reform institutions and even if you did,
political operatives should work in a bipartisan manner to do this.
Harapan political operatives should take the lead and seek support from
Umno if they really need the numbers to initiative legislative reforms.
But is anyone really interested in doing this?
believe that someone like Latheefa Koya can do some good. She can go
after the corrupt religious bureaucracy, the nexus between political and
corporate power, the prison bureaucracy, various governmental
institutions and their non-governmental accomplices. All of which can
reduce the corruption that the prime minister seems to think Harapan has
In two years, she could do a lot to dismantle to
the corrupt institutions which support political power if she has the
political will. What she needs are the tools to do this and to work
independently of the political establishment.
While I am hopeful of the former, I am doubtful of the latter.