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The Senate and the suspension of Malahoo Forte

Published:Thursday | October 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM


President of the Senate, Floyd Morris, deserves the highest commendation for his insistence that Senator Malahoo Forte be allowed to complete her presentation relating to three bills on the Caribbean Court of Justice-Judicial Committee of the Privy Council debate in the Senate week.

Government senators were bent on suspending Malahoo Forte for certain remarks made by her, especially when she said that the three bills made made a mockery of the Jamaican Constitution. That was very harsh language.

Up to then, Mahahoo Forte, had made one of the most profound speeches ever delivered in the Senate on any matter, and I have been a parliamentary reporter for more than 40 years.

Later, however, she showed disrespect to the President of the Senate by not providing him with a copy of the letter from which she read during her presentation.

Entitled to documents

The President as chief presiding office is entitled to all documents introduced in the Senate. It is customary to give the President and the minister such a document.

What Malahoo should have done is to ask for a suspension of the Senate to get copies made, a process that would have lasted less than thirty minutes.

A question that many have asked, is how come the letter is not on file at the Ministry of Justice? It was an official letter to a former Minister and should form a part of the record of the ministry.

Yet, the attempts made by the leader of government business in the Senate to get the letter, was crude and constituted a dangerous precedent.

Now, I support Jamaica having the Caribbean Court of Justice as its final appellate court. Most of our judges are as competent as can be found anywhere.

I am also convinced, that a referendum is the most democratic process and believe that a referendum will not go like the referendum that destroyed the West Indies Federation.

Kenneth Chaplin