Tanya Stephens Criticises Malahoo Forte Over Jamaican President’s “Job Description” Question

Dancehall singer Tanya Stephens and former Tourism Minister Aloun Ndombet-Assamba have taken Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte to task for giving what they describe as an inadequate response to a question about the job description of Jamaica’s “new president” at a Constitutional Reform forum.  

During a Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) town hall meeting in Montego Bay last week Wednesday, to discuss Jamaica’s transition from being a constitutional monarchy to a republic, Malahoo Forte had been asked by a resident: “what would be the job description of the president?”

The response, which came from the former Attorney General did not find favour with Stephens, who shared a clip of the exchange on her Instagram page.  In the clip, Forte tells the resident, among other things, that she would “probe it and come back with the full answer”.

“Miss Crooks that’s a big, big question you know.  I can’t put it in synopsis but the president is going to be the head of state, protecting  – it’s a  – it’s such an important question and it’s a big part of this work but if I tell you Head of State embodying national unity making critical appointments to critical things, offices, dealing with sensitive offices,” Maloo Forte had told the resident. 

“It’s a question that you should have asked at the start because now that we’re running out of time.  A whole heap, but having raised it, we will probe it for you and come back with the full answer because now we have gotten to the meat of the matter,” she added.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvjIBHNyoz0?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&start=11071&wmode=transparent]

Tanya Stephens, who a week ago declared that she had abandoned her chosen political party the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) in favour of the Peoples National Party (PNP), lampooned the minister for what she thought was the absurdity of the response.  

“A big big question which our ATTORNEY GENERAL Marlene Malahoo Forte can’t put in “synopsis”, instead promises to “probe” and come back with an answer. So why in the name of ackee and saltfish are they trying to rush this through? 2 year minimum,” the Boom Wuk artiste questioned.

The St. Mary native also suggested to her followers that they could protest, by finding “the town hall meetings and state categorically… NO RUSH!”

On Monday Maloo Forte took to Twitter rebuke those whom she described as fault-finding critics.  

“Dear Critics- Thank u for taking time to share ur views on what u have seen & what u understand about the #ConstitutionalReformProcess so far. I believe many of u mean well. Those only looking for faults will find them. We who want the change will continue to learn & press ahead,” she tweeted.

However, Malahoo-Forte’s now-deleted tweet did not go down well with some of her followers, including former Tourism Minister Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, who told her it was now incumbent on her to respond to the question in a manner which makes sense.

“Well can you please now give us the responsibilities of the proposed President in words that are not just generalities and will make sense to us ordinary Jamaicans as you did not answer the lady’s question other than yo say several times it was a good question,” Assamba rebuked.

Malahoo Forte replied: “Aloun, the CRC will provide the answer in writing. 280 characters allowed here on Twitter are not sufficient. Similarly, time was insufficient to fully answer that question, when asked at the end of the meeting in MoBay. Insufficient characters here. Insufficient time there.”

However, Assamba, who is also an attorney-at-law, pointed out to Malahoo Forte that it was her responsibility to tell Jamaicans from the outset what the presidential job description will look like.

“But Minister I would think that you would have given the rationale and the new/additional duties of the proposed President from the beginning as it has been the are of great concern once it was announced that we were moving to having a President. I support that move BTW,” Assamba admonished.

The former Tourism Minister then reiterated: “Saying the question was asked at the end is hogwash. The issue of what sort of President is what has been exercising the minds of citizens. I would think that would be one of the first matters that would have been dealt with and question having to be asked.”

Assamba later made an additional tweet further criticising Malahoo Forte.  

“Didn’t the Honourable Co-Chair of the Committee come prepared to answer such a basic question? You propose a change without considering what the new position will entail? Saying it is a good question does not excuse your lack of preparedness no matter how late the question comes,” Assamba said.

Didn’t the Honourable Co Chair of the Committee come prepared to answer such a basic question? You propose a change without considering what the new position will entail? Saying it is a good question does not excuse your lack of preparedness no matter how late the question comes pic.twitter.com/MfivD5yBAJ

— Aloun Ndombet- Assamba (@hcassamba) May 1, 2023

In another tweet Malahoo Forte took issue with the video clip of the exchange between herself and the audience member, which has been circulating widely on social media.

“This excerpt has been carefully selected to give a certain impression. The question was asked at the very end when we were out of time. If you are interested in the full exchange, look at the full video,” she noted.

This time she was supported fulsomely though by lizzielevy, who said in Malahoo Forte’s defence, that it was part of Opposition Communications which was “Tiktoking the hell outta constitutional reform”, and that the video clip “designed to play into their narrative that u look like u don’t know what you’re doing”.

“As with ALL their tiktoks, its made its way into the whatsapps of people who dont hang out on social media, and definately not tiktok,” she stated.

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