Malaysia’s anti-corruption chief quits in the wake of change of government – dpa international

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Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arriving at Kuala Lumpur High Court on February 10 2020 for one of his ongoing corruption trials (Simon Roughneen)

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arriving at Kuala Lumpur High Court on February 10 2020 for one of his ongoing corruption trials (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission head Latheefa Koya resigned on Friday morning but denied her decision was due to a change in government in favour of a party tainted by graft scandals.

“Speculation that pressure was brought upon me is baseless,” Latheefa said, adding that she had “a cordial discussion” with new Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on March 2.

Latheefa testified this week at a corruption trial involving former prime minister Najib Razak, who is accused of stealing over 700 million dollars of public money.

Najib’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) is the largest party backing Muhyddin and will likely be part of his cabinet after almost two years in opposition.

UMNO previously held power for six decades, until a shock May 2018 election defeat to a coalition led by Mahathir Mohamad, who in turn resigned as prime minister on February 24.

Latheefa’s resignation follows that of Tommy Thomas, another Mahathir appointee involved in legal proceedings against Najib. Thomas quit as attorney-general on February 28 while the country’s political elites were in the middle of a frantic power struggle.

On February 29, Malaysia’s King Abdullah nominated Muhyiddin as prime minister on the grounds he was the candidate “likely” to have majority support in parliament.

On March 1 Mahathir denounced Muhyiddin, a former ally, as a traitor. Mahathir claimed 114 lawmakers backed his return as premier, two more than the majority needed.

Parties backing Mahathir had hoped to put the issue to a vote in parliament. However a house sitting scheduled to start on March 9 was postponed this week to May 18, with the prime minister’s office citing insufficient time for the new government to prepare.

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