May 08, 2015 News
The Media Monitoring Unit (MMU) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has stated in its third report released yesterday, that it will not be intimidated; neither will it succumb to the political pressure that has been forced upon it.
In concluding a detailed report centered on the direction in which the radio, television and newspaper media has been going, the Unit alluded to the jabs it received mainly from the incumbent People’s Progressive Party/ Civic.
Under the subheading, “General Comments,” MMU manager, Lavern Pinto reported that the Unit firmly rejects attempts by political parties and their leaders to “muzzle” it by attacking the contents of previous reports.
The content of prior reports pin pointed and condemned the unacceptable campaign rhetoric and behaviors that were carried in the media.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo bore the brunt of the criticisms as he was quoted in the media using statements that the MMU was considered to be “racially divisive”.
The report released yesterday stated that ever since the Unit released its first report in April, it has been accused of all manner of brazenness by well-known politicians.
The Unit noted that some choice derogatory terms such as “Rogue Unit” have been used to define it while its reports have been assailed publicly as “full of rhetoric and aimed at creating civil unrest.”
The MMU said that even in the face of all the “fallacious allegations made against” its qualified core of workers, it remained resolute and to a large extent, deliberately mute, being comforted by the fact that such criticisms are unfounded. “Indeed, no rational mind would read the unit’s reports and arrive at such tangled analyses or convoluted conclusions as we have been witnessing recently. Moreover, in the midst of all the centrally directed slander being heaped upon us, we would like to calmly but firmly reiterate three salient points, and hope that our detractors grasp and understand their import: The Unit’s remit is exclusive to media content only; Our Reports are duly premised on the Elections Media Code of Conduct; and We have never sought to involve ourselves in the politics of the country,” the report reflected.
The MMU said that it is rather bemusing that a body like itself, which seeks to facilitate responsible media self-regulation, would inadvertently raise the rage of politicians.
It said that it would understand if media houses cited for violations of the Media Code of Conduct, vented disapprovals. “But, to be attacked so stridently and callously by grouchy politicians is somewhat unnerving, especially when those attacks have no basis.”
Further, the MMU said that the unrelenting attacks against it “bear the distinguishable hallmarks of a plot aimed at shutting us up, for reasons that might not be too difficult to fathom.”
However, the Unit sought to remind politicians “who are slinging insult in our direction,” of what happened during and after the 1992, 1997 and 2001 pre-, and post-election periods when an unregulated media was used as the main tool for fomenting internecine strife; and the consequences of the societal disorder that eventuated.
Also, the MMU affirmed that “by unjustifiably belittling the work of the Unit, and in an oblique way trying to muzzle us, we believe those who are deliberately stirring up public animosity against us, may unwittingly be encouraging a return of invidious behaviors into the political arena, that Guyanese are loath to remember, much less experience again.”
The Unit vowed to continue to execute its mandate in a fair, objective and professional manner at all times. “Our prime obligation is to the local media fraternity, and once they remain satisfied with our work and continue to repose confidence in us, we shall remain steadfast in implementing the Elections Media Code of Conduct.
Lastly, and this is our final say on this issue. The MMU never signed a pact with any politician or political party, in this country. As such, we will never succumb to, or be amenable to political diktat.”
Recently, General Secretary of the PPP, Clement Rohee, lashed out at the MMU for the reports which criticized actions by his Party as reported in the media.
At one of his weekly press conferences, Rohee said that the PPP “strongly condemns the biased and politically motivated attacks on the Party and its leaders, by GECOM’s (Guyana Elections Commission) Media Monitoring Unit.”
He was the one who said that recent public statements released by the MMU are full of “rhetoric and aimed at creating civil unrest during this very sensitive period in our country.”
Rohee found it necessary to note that the MMU is not an independent body, but rather an arm of the Elections Commission “hence, public statements must be vetted by GECOM to ensure that its reporting is accurate and responsible.”
Further, Rohee said that the “wild and loose attacks on former President Bharrat Jagdeo seems to be opposition driven.”
Rohee suggested that the “PPP and `its leaders seems to be the target of this unit while the opposition is allowed to utter and escape with all sorts of derogatory and racist remarks.”
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