Attorney Subhas Panday has criticised the hefty $179,000 in mask fines collected to date from “ordinary people” while, “the privileged is partying.”
Referring to the private poolside party, exceeding ten people, at the gated Bayside Towers. Cocorite, over the weekend, Panday said the law is sending a message that it is tilted against the poor, in favour of the wealthy.
Responding to criticisms for not intervening, CoP Gary Griffith said it is difficult for the police to enter private property.
Panday, a former national security minister, was not supportive of Griffith.
Panday disagreed with a comparison given by Griffith as a reason why the Bayside partygoers were not charged. Griffith explained that bathers who also breached the law by bathing in waters near Bayshore were not charged but warned and sent home. Yet he said, people were upset the partygoers at Bayside were not charged.
The attorney said there is not comparison between the two situations. He said while the situation with the bathers deals with a breach of the law, there is no clear definition in the law to deal with a situation like the one which presented itself at Bayside Towers.
In a statement, Panday said the law is designed not to catch the privileged.
“On the presentation of the amendment of the Public Health Ordinance Act 1 of 2020, I indicated that the amendment to the said act was a half-baked piece of legislation as a result of a knee-jerk reaction to the covid19 pandemic.
“The legislation was not properly thought out. The government should have done more work on it before rushing it through the Parliament. On that occasion there were lacunae in the law, some have been addressed. However, the law did not deal with gated communities where a number of private residences use a common area,” Panday said.
He said it has not addressed the issue of the mischief which the law had intended to eliminate, speculating on the possibility that the partygoers could spread the covid19 virus to members of the public.
“The law as it stands is tilted against the poor in favour of the wealthy. This can be clearly gleaned by the Prime Minister’s statement when people complained about the $1,000 ticket being too burdensome to the poor: he said, 'If you poor, don’t break the law.'
He said the same legislation makes the parent vicariously liable for their child aged eight and over for not wearing a mask, so to the law should be amended to make landlords and/or occupiers also liable for the breach of the law on their premises.
“Parliament has abdicated its responsibility in that it should not allow the making of regulations by ministers to make and implement regulations (subsidiary legislation) without Parliament’s scrutiny.
“In the debate, someone stated to do so would be to buy cat in bag. In this case, the Parliament has bought a bag without a cat. They had no idea of what would have been the details of the regulations to be drafted after the passing of the bill.”
Panday called on the Opposition to stand up and ensure good legislation is passed.