Women’s rights activists laud Latheefa’s appointment as MACC chief

New MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya.

GEORGE TOWN: A key women’s rights advocate in Penang has advised new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Latheefa Koya to learn to manoeuvre gender-related pitfalls in a male-dominated government agency.

Penang gender inclusiveness committee chairperson Chong Eng said Latheefa would have to overcome the gender trap, where female leaders are expected to adopt male traits.

“As the first woman to hold the top post at MACC, I hope she is aware that she will be working in a male-dominated, top-level decision-making environment.

“While we commend her for her consistency in defending human rights, she should quickly read up about how women leaders can avoid the gender trap.

“She will face more ‘tests’ from the males to find out how capable she is, and culturally speaking, some might never work with a female boss at this level, thinking men would be better at her job.

“That being said, we are very happy to hear another glass ceiling has been broken under the Pakatan Harapan government,” the DAP national women’s chief said.

Meanwhile, public interest lawyer Meenakshi Raman hoped Latheefa would lead in investigations and prosecutions without fear or favour, and be constantly above politics in all matters related to MACC.

She said Latheefa should brace herself as it is not an easy job, especially in a setting where the agency may not be gender sensitive.

“It is probably a daunting position as a woman at the helm of an agency which is largely male-dominated.

“While we see more and more women emerge in important posts, it is important to take note of prejudiced views against women leaders in the workplace.

“It will be hard to break that, but I hope that will not be the case and that full cooperation is given to her.

“We hope prosecutions are not oriented by politics but are of public interest. She has stood for human rights and public interest before, so this should come as natural to her,” Meenakshi said.

Seri Delima assemblyman Syerleena Rashid said the appointment of Latheefa was a step forward and could inspire other women.

Latheefa, who is Lawyers for Liberty co-founder, was appointed as MACC chief for two years from June 1, replacing Shukri Abdull whose contract was allowed to expire ahead of its deadline on May 17, 2020.