Unilateral appointments are not part of a healthy democracy and ought not to happen, irrespective of the quality or otherwise of the appointee

The Prime Minister’s confirmation that he did not consult the Cabinet in the appointment of newly minted MACC chief Latheefa Koya is a cause for concern.

The MACC Act 2009 may provide that the Yang di Pertuan Agong appoints the MACC head on the advice of the PM, which technically gives the PM the unfettered discretion to pick his choice of candidate for the post.

However, the whole point of promise 14 in PH’s election manifesto is to ensure a check and balance and transparency of such appointments by the setting up of a Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Appointments.

The purpose of such a committee becomes meaningless if such appointments are made unilaterally without even consulting the Cabinet.

The ability to appoint unilaterally implies the ability to dismiss unilaterally as well, which is why proper consultation with all parties, especially the Cabinet, is crucial so as to avoid unnecessary perceptions that may arise as a result of such unilateral appointments or dismissals.

Personality is, no doubt, important in the appointments of officials of government agencies but the manner in which they are appointed must be of equal, if not, more importance to inspire public confidence in such appointments.

I note de facto Law Minister VK Liew’s statement today that the PM acted within the law in appointing Latheefa.

The point that he is missing here is not the legality of Latheefa’s appointment but whether making such unilateral appointments without consultation with the Cabinet and the said committee is in line with the reforms promised before PH came into power.

With respect, unilateral appointments such as this is not part of a healthy democracy and ought not to happen, irrespective of the quality or otherwise of the appointee.

Ramkarpal Singh
CHAIRMAN, DAP NATIONAL LEGAL BUREAU & MP FOR BUKIT GELUGOR
Media statement (2) by Ramkarpal Singh in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 6th June 2019