Fishermen and Friends of the Sea corporate secretary Gary Aboud is appealing to the Prime Minister to postpone the election for 30 days, in the wake of the announcement of ten new cases of covid19 on Tuesday morning.
He is also calling for an immediate national lockdown to control the spread of the virus.
Aboud said the group is calling on Dr Rowley to carefully consider the risks involved in holding an election during this second wave.
He said the Hong Kong Government has taken the lead by postponing its September parliamentary elections by a year, saying it is necessary amid a rise in coronavirus infections.
“Is it worth risking public health while the virus is escalating with local spread? We fear the virus is going to escalate as a result of holding elections. It happened in Suriname, where they went from three cases pre the election, and after all the election congregating and the meeting and the dipping in ink, they went to 30, to 40 cases, 300 cases per week. We think it’s not worth it.”
He said it’s important the country goes back into lockdown.
“Bars and parties are open, people are acting as normal without masks and the virus is threatening life.
"Certainly there’s an economic fallout, certainly there’s a social impact and the loss of jobs and the financial imbalance but health must be our first priority, not elections, not partymongering, not the national economy, public health must be our first national priority.”
The group wrote to the President on July 30, citing the Suriname example and asking for the election to be postponed for 30, 60 or 90 days.
“Our general election is scheduled for August 10, 2020 and without any specific legislation to command proper hygiene practices in public places and public gatherings, we are concerned that the covid19 will accelerate. It will be very difficult to maintain social distancing on election day plus there are too many risks involved in dipping one's finger into a shared pot of ink.”
The President’s response, dated August 3, cited Section 34 of the Representation of the People Act and said the postponement of the general election is one in which the first step must be taken by the Executive. It also said any postponement could only be for a maximum of 30 days according to the legislation.
Her response added, “Her Excellency shares your concern for the country given the increase of number of positive cases of covid19 being reported and agrees that public safety and protection of life must be the paramount consideration. She is confident that the relevant governmental, health and election authorities are keenly observing the state of affairs and will make such decisions as are warranted.”
FFOS is the third entity to have approached the President to postpone or defer the elections. The first was the Progressive Empowerment Party, which wrote to her on July 29, asking for a three-month postponement. The President responded on July 30, saying while she was concerned about the number of cases, the decision to postpone belonged to the Executive as noted in the law.
The second political party was The Humanity Campaign (THC), which asked her to postpone the election by two to three weeks, to allow for the arrival, quarantine process and period, and health clearance of a Caricom election observer mission. The party said not having observers could more negatively affect the country’s reputation.
It wrote, “We may be looked upon by the rest of the world, as a more corrupt country than they already see us. Giving our country the ability to have election observers in our process will prevent any further breakdown of our country’s reputation, will increase the trust our citizens have in its government, and will demonstrate the real power of our honourable president, as many citizens are of the opinion that our Presidential Office is obsolete.”