Malaysia’s anti-graft chief quits after government changes

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s anti-corruption chief has tendered her resignation, becoming the second top official to quit following the fall from power of a reformist ruling alliance once led by Mahathir Mohamad.

Latheefa Koya said in a statement Friday that there was no pressure on her to leave but that she decided to quit as head of Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission to return to her practice as a human rights advocate.

Her move mirrored that of Attorney General Tommy Thomas, who has said he resigned because of the change in government. Both Thomas and Latheefa were appointed by Mahathir after his alliance ousted former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s scandal-plagued government in a historic vote in 2018.

Mahathir’s ruling alliance collapsed last week after his Bersatu party ditched the pact to join forces with Najib’s party and several opposition parties to form a new Malay-majority government. Mahathir quit as prime minister to protest working with Najib’s party. His former ally and Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin was appointed as new premier.

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Latheefa said she met Muhyiddin on Thursday to explain her decision to resign. She said she also briefed the new premier about ongoing actions and efforts to recover money stolen from the 1MDB state investment fund from abroad and that he was “fully supportive” of these actions.

Latheefa and Thomas have overseen corruption charges against Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and several government officials over the 1MDB scandal, which has also prompted investigations in the U.S. and several other countries. Several other former political leaders have also been hauled to court for graft charges.

It is unclear how their resignations will affect the ongoing trials. Latheefa said it would be “business as usual” at the agency and believed it would remain uncompromising in fighting corruption.

Muhyiddin, facing a divided nation, has appealed for support and pledged to form a corruption-free Cabinet. He has postponed Parliament’s sitting by more than two months to May 18, that effectively delayed any moves by Mahathir’s camp to seek a no-confidence vote against him.

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