Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam invokes her emergency powers to postpone the city’s September legislative election by one year, citing coronavirus resurgence as reason.
The leader made the announcement on Friday, while addressing the media, and called it “the most difficult one” since the virus outbreak started. She added that though the decision is a tough one to make, it is “essential” to ensuring public safety and health.
— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@HongKongFP) July 31, 2020
Lam is reported to have said that the Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong was at its worst, and that Beijing had given her the green light to implement the precautionary measures.
It had been previously speculated by the media, that the election was going to draw crowds to the polling stations and increase the risk of the virus’ transmission.
Since 2019, Hong Kong has been rocked by protests, initially triggered by a proposal of a now defunct extradition bill. The demonstrations grew into a full-blown anti-Chinese government movement, fueled by the strict 2020 national security law, perceived by opposition as an attack on the territory’s semi-sovereignty.
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Hong Kong has seen a massive rise in untraceable infections since the start of July. The numbers now stand at more than three thousand cases and twenty-seven Covid-related deaths. On Monday, local authorities introduced mandatory social distancing measures, including limiting public gathering to just two people and making facemasks compulsory to wear outdoors.
The delay also follows Tuesday’s events, when twelve anti-Beijing activists were banned from participating in the election. “These people intended to paralyze the government and subvert state power,” explained Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, one of the banned activist leaders Joshua Wong said that Beijing “tramples upon the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy.”
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