Home Letters Sobers using his office to issue numerous threats to media
Leslie Sobers works for General Secretary of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon’s law firm; he is also Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority. There is nothing illegal about this arrangement and even the ethical questions could be overcome by integrity of character, sadly, Sobers has failed to act with the impartiality his office at the GNBA requires and has taken to a social media platform (Facebook) to engage in political spats and denigrating posts about the Leader of the Opposition in the manner of an office boy in the aforementioned law firm.
Sobers is using his office to issue numerous threats to media that are friendly to the Opposition or unbiased in coverage of the upcoming elections. Head of the Special Investigative Unit of the GNBA is Joel Edmond, whose wife is a candidate on the APNU/AFC list. As with Sobers, integrity of character could mitigate this obvious disqualifier; the insistence that David Granger cannot be described as a ‘charlatan’, a noun meaning a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill shows not only bias but inability to understand nuanced or diplomatic use of language, would they rather the use of synonyms such as ‘quack’ ‘sham’ ‘fake’ ‘fraud’? Sobers and Edmond are not the arbiters of morality they pretend to be and ‘frauds’ may well be applied as a descriptor of the duo who are unable to perform their duties of the office impartially. The Facebook posts of Sobers, in particular, are disturbing.
Sobers may plead the Imran Khan defence; I can recall an incident where the Director of Public Information posted a comment on his Facebook page (10.1.2018), questioning whether the Indian High Commission in Guyana was interfering in the country’s internal affairs and was attempting to engage in the destabilisation of the coalition Government. The Government had to issue all sorts of inane excuses to avoid a full-blown diplomatic incident and loss of an important development partner. Joel Edmond needs to acknowledge that his membership in the AFC and his wife’s presence on the APNU/AFC list disqualifies him from being the impartial arbiter his office demands and recuse himself or resign.
The Guyana Press Association can use the dictionary recently gifted to their President conveniently opened to the letter F and look up ‘fair’ and use that definition to call on Sobers to behave impartially; Transparency International-Guyana need not be silent until the boat goes over the falls and speak up for the values the organisation represents. The international community is well represented and respected, a public word of advice would do wonders for the morale of the oppressed and almost certainly cause an adjustment of attitude from Sobers and Edmond.
There are only six weeks before the General and Regional Elections on March 2; it would be a crying shame if partisan behaviour by Sobers were to cause interference in the freedom of the press at such a crucial time. Institutions have not fared well under the Granger Administration, the trials and tribulations at GECOM have left a crisis of confidence in it as a credible body to conduct free and fair elections. The fate of the GNBA now rests on another political appointee entrusted with an office that demands the highest levels of impartiality and good judgment; the social media fights and statements made by Sobers do not engender confidence that he can be an impartial arbiter; for the sake of the nation and a free and fair election, Sobers needs to find that neutral gear and engage it quickly.