Ronald Burch-Smith should avoid becoming embroiled in a Mother’s Day fiasco

Dear Editor,
The current executive of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) plans to hold elections on Sunday May 14 – Mother’s Day, to be exact. The elections were due in early 2020, which means the current executive has been squatting in office for three years.
In the past, executive members of the GPA have lectured the Government extensively on democracy, transparency and fairness. Astonishingly, the GPA’s elections process is marred by accusations of serious irregularities. These accusations are further compounded by the stubbornness of the executive to address the numerous concerns raised by the membership.
The dictatorial approach by the executive – denying all requests for the voters’ list to be made available prior to the elections – casts serious doubt on the outcome of the voting, regardless of who gets elected. Dozens of media workers feel disenfranchised because of the newly imposed rules of a cut-off time for the registration of new members and payment of dues. Both are departures from common practice for the elections.
Members of the GPA have a legitimate expectation that the previous convention that allowed for membership and payment of dues to be made right up to the day of elections would still apply to these elections. Based on one’s reading of the GPA Constitution, the new rules could be open to legal challenge.
Despite official requests from members to produce a list of eligible voters ahead of the elections, the GPA executive has closed ranks.
Instead of adopting a transparent approach to protect the integrity of the elections, the GPA executive has found a willing enabler in Gordon Mosely to divert his colleagues’ attention with great mediocrity and triviality.
All of the issues being ventilated in the public domain present a challenge for Attorney-at-Law Ronald Burch-Smith, who is appointed as the Returning Officer for the elections. Burch-Smith is a reputable legal mind, but he risks becoming embroiled in the tainted elections process of the GPA. There are certain characteristics that are unique to the legal profession that put lawyers at risk of involvement in corruption. Generally, the expectation is that lawyers do not assume positions in which private interests conflict with those applicable rules of professional conduct.
It is expected that a lawyer shall, at all times, maintain the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and fairness towards his/her clients, the court, colleagues, and all those with whom he/she comes into professional contact.
There is still time for the goodly attorney to exercise his independent, unbiased professional judgement and withdraw his participation from the GPA elections process to protect his personal and professional integrity.

Erin Northe