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Was Malahoo Forte discerning?

Jamaica Observer 2020-07-31 14:19:02

Dear Editor,

Assertions are declarations or strong statements implying truth without proof, and, when made by even the most learned and qualified people in high authority, they remain only opinions.

People in authority should be discerning and must remain mindful, especially when they think they are quite right, not to do or say things in the wrong manner or forum because this sometimes results in far-reaching consequences.

Picture a school principal rebuking a young history teacher before her class because he thought she erred. This would seriously undermine the young teacher and could also shatter her confidence. Our mental health and general well-being depend, to a great extent, on societal stability and the level of confidence we have in those in authority at work and in crucial ministries like finance, education, health, justice, and national security.

Let's imagine a chief epidemiologist commenting on social media that some strategies implemented by the health ministry to combat COVID-19 contradict established guidelines and are fatally flawed. Or a chief medical officer's assertion that some surgeons are not following standard surgical protocols, especially when performing emergency operations. This would be so scandalous, gravely undermining public confidence in doctors and health care with irreparable consequences.

Are the actual critical comments on the judiciary by Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte via social media in any way similar to the imaginary ones outlined on health care? Was she discerning? Did she breach ministerial protocol?

Malahoo Forte has the democratic right to freely express herself, but she is not an ordinary citizen venting. She is a key functionary of the legal community, a former resident magistrate, justice of the peace, Queen's counsel, and the Government's legal adviser; hence, a tremendous weight of legal, ethical and moral responsibility lie on her head and shoulders.

Against the backdrop of heavy use of states of emergency and, reportedly, 35 per cent of citizenry lacking confidence in the judiciary, were her critical comments on the judiciary adding fuel to, or lighting a bigger fire?

Time and place for everything.

Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte will have time to reflect if she was discerning and whether her critical comments could cast doubt and undermine her own authority, if she continues to occupy one of the highest offices in the land.


Daive R Facey