I noticed that Ms Audreyanna Thomas tried to deliver a lesson on ethics to Vice President (VP) Dr Bharrat Jagdeo. She has expressed dismay at the way in which Dr Jagdeo, at a press conference, addressed the question of Dr Mark Bynoe’s job status, and at Dr Jagdeo’s reference to GECOM’s staff as “criminals.”
Pushing beyond the ethical goalpost, Ms Thomas insinuates that Dr Bharrat Jagdeo should resign as Vice President and proceed to become a farmer! What an astonishing comment! I wonder what she thinks of David Granger and Joseph Harmon as political leaders! Should they ever be in politics?
Ms Thomas sarcastically pleads, “the ‘poor’ Vice President is probably tired of doing public service.” Just to note: because Ms. Thomas is not a behavioural scientist, her statement is flimsy. Had she been a behavioural scientist, she would have been able to admonish Joseph Harmon and other PNCR operatives for publicly impugning the character of Jamaica’s former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, and CARICOM Chair Dr Ralph Gonsalves, as well as denigrating Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Ethical standards are not only for Dr Jagdeo and the PPPC, but also for all politicians and civic leaders.
Ms Thomas has used caustic, and sometimes dramatic, language to make her wobbly points. She says that the VP threatened to fire Dr. Mark Bynoe, Head of the Department of Energy, and “indicating the possibility of giving his [Dr Bynoe’s] job to Dr. Vincent Adams.” Ms. Thomas contends that “such remarks were inappropriate and disrespectful to Dr. Bynoe.”
For clarity, Dr Bynoe was never threatened. It was just a question of matching his skills set with the proper job description.
The other issue relates to the VP’s reference to the staff at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) as “criminals”. In Ms Thomas’s view, such a label could apply only after a conviction is secured. To a certain extent, I agree with Ms. Thomas. If politicians in particular are not holders of government offices, they can probably say anything and get away with it; but when they hold public office, the norms and rules that govern their operations are different, and therefore care must be taken in the proper use of language and the need to safeguard confidential matters.
The practical problem is: how does anyone expect the VP to respond when a reporter inquired into the employment status of Dr Bynoe? Should he tell the truth, or suppress it? It was stated on a few occasions before that Dr Bynoe’s qualifications were more appropriate to a non-oil/gas sector. It is being considered that Dr Vincent Adams, who was Head of the Department of Environment, be engaged in the oil and gas sector where his expertise in wholly relevant.
The employment status of both Dr Bynoe and Dr Adams has been in the public domain. Seeking to clarify them in a transparent way is not necessarily inappropriate.
I believe that referring to some elements of the GECOM Secretariat staff as ‘criminals’ by the VP was unfortunate from a strictly legalistic viewpoint. However, from another perspective, such terms as riggers and fraudsters have been used interchangeably. But this is not the time to get engaged in semantics. The attempt to steal an election by few GECOM staff and others was committed in the clear view of the world. Public opinion does not need a court to confirm what people saw. If, for example, someone were to choke and rob me of my purse, do I necessarily have to wait upon a formal conviction to call him a thief or criminal? However, I do agree that while I can make such a comment, the VP and other Government officials must be held to a higher standard in the use of rhetoric.
Ms Thomas makes a startling point: “The Vice President must be reminded that it was the same GECOM staff (‘criminals’) who managed the Local Government Elections (LGE) in November of 2018 and his party was extremely happy with the results of the elections”. That LGE election had set up carefully the modus operandi on how and to what extent GECOM rogue staff, in collusion with others, would need to rig the 2020 General Elections to give the incumbent regime a victory. The massive focus was never on LGE, but on the General Elections that would elect the next government of the emerging oil-mixed economy. I wonder if Ms. Thomas ever condemned the rigging of the 2020 elections? Or will she wait until the court makes a ruling?
Ms Thomas must also know that Dr Jagdeo is not only smart, but is also one of the most popular politicians in Guyana (confirmed by Dr Vishnu Bisram’s poll). His standing in the international community is lofty. I know that Dr Jagdeo is not perfect, but perfection should never become the enemy of the good. Dr Bisram’s polls indicate that the VP is full of energy, is a visionary, and has vast experience, which combine to boost Guyana’s development strategy.
Dr Tara Singh