The newly appointed Deputy Minister for Press and Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Jarlawah A. Tonpo, says he will talk to relevant people before saying or writing about any national issues.
Speaking at MICAT press briefing on Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Monrovia, Tonpo said “let me assure you that I am coming to this post with a deep understanding that people need to cooperate with each other and work together to achieve an objective.
“Talk to relevant people before talking or writing. I will interact with people on policy issues politely, listen well, and talk less with facts,” he added.
He was appointed on Thursday, June 24, 2021, by President George Manneh Weah to replace Eugene Fahngon who was dismissed for allegedly his utterances regarding the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic response in the country.
Since his appointment, Tonpo has received lots of criticism from the public. Some believed that he cannot properly communicate well because such a position requires one that speaks fluently.
Tonpo maintained that in his capacity as deputy minister, before speaking he would always hear from the relevant authority to provide the necessary information for the public.
Prior to his nomination, Tonpo was serving as Director of Press and Public Affairs at the Liberian Senate for many years.
The Public Affairs Minister vowed to commit to the ministry because he believes it will enable them to work as a team to successfully coordinate government policies and programs.
“I come to join you, Mr. Minister, and the team on the ground permit me to share these suggested plans with you to effectively … explain government policy and programs to the Liberian people”.
As part of his welcoming statement, Tonpo suggested that information regarding government positions on development must be channelled through MICAT.
The Minister stressed the need to extend MICAT to all counties with a focal person who will be able to disseminate the government's agenda in the counties. “These people will support county engagements and government programs and policy.”
Tonpo recommends that MICAT start a community engagement so that government information can be disseminated properly. “I want us to take MICAT to the people in the community. Community radio engagement is intended to regularly explain government programs.
“I would like to reactivate the overseas press bureau at MICAT as a contact for press attaché for regular updates to the various embassies intended to guide information from the government to foreign embassies; monthly meetings for all government public relations officers,” the Deputy Minister added.