Mahathir has presented Latheefa Koya one of her greatest challenges as MACC Chief – to ensure that both the kleptocrats and sharks are brought to justice in the next two years of her contract

The Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has in fact presented Latheefa Koya one of her greatest challenges as Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief – to ensure that both the kleptocrats and sharks of corruption are brought to justice in the next two years of her contract.

When asked in Jasin, Malacca yesterday whether several former high-ranking officers, as well as a former minister, are to be investigated for their role in the “Week of Long Knives” in July/August 2015, Mahathir said they currently lack the manpower to investigate everyone in the previous government who is suspected of wrongdoing.

Mahathir said:

“We find that the government who was defeated had many who committed crimes, but at this time, it is not possible for us to focus on them all because we lack manpower.

“Right now, we are focusing on the very serious cases such as the (former) prime minister who had caused a lot of the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) money to go missing.”

I had expressed the hope that just as the first year of Pakatan Harapan government in Putrajaya saw the kleptocrats headed by former Prrime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, being charged and prosecuted for corruption, the second year of the Pakatan Harapan Governmment (which is the first year of Latheefa’s charge as MACC chief), will see the other “sharks” of corruption being brought to book.

Malaysians are struck by the statement of the G25 group of former senior civil servants which supported the appointment of Latheefa Koya as MACC head for “an exceptional circumstance” - because corruption had reached critical proportions and the prime minister had to fill the post immediately.

It said: “Whilst we had wished for the emergence of the constitutional convention of parliamentary scrutiny in the appointment process, which sadly, did not happen, it cannot be denied that the appointment was strictly in accordance with the law.”

It said that corruption in Malaysia had reached critical proportions, traversing all levels of society, and the position had to be filled urgently.

“We must support decisions that promote good governance and appropriate legal processes. After all, these are a means to an end,” G25 said.

Undoubtedly, the MACC officers had their hands full in their anti-corruption investigations, but no top leader should be spared corruption investigation and prosecution as there is no statute of limitation for crime or corruption offences.

Even if the MACC is unable at present to deal with certain leaders of the former government because it had its hands full dealing with other kleptocrats and “sharks”, no “sharks” should be spared being brought to justice.

Malaysia cannot continue to be among nations where even former top government officials like those in G25 admit that corruption has reached “critical proportions, traversing all levels of society” if Malaysia wants to transform itself from a global kleptocracy to become a leading nation of integrity.

For this reason, the statement by the PKR President and MP for Port Dickson, Anwar Ibrahim urging Pakatan Harapan leaders to support the Prime Minister’s decision and to give space to the newly-minted MACC chief and MACC to do their duties is to be lauded.

Malaysians must never lose sight of the challenge and possibility of Malaysia rising up in international rankings in future corruption surveys to the best levels ever occupied in the nation’s history, and this is a task which all Malaysians must support.

The time may have come for the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption (GIACC), MACC and Malaysians who want to see Malaysia transform from a global kleptocracy to a leading nation of integrity to give thought to an amnesty programme for those involved in corruption provided they return their ill-gotten gains as a strategy to help curb the scourge of corruption in Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri