Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced Friday that the government will postpone highly anticipated legislative elections by one year, citing a worsening coronavirus outbreak in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
“The announcement I have to make today is the most difficult decision I’ve had to make in the past seven months,” Lam said at a news conference.
“We want to ensure fairness and public safety and health, and need to make sure the election is held in an open, fair and impartial manner. This decision is therefore essential,” she said.
The postponement is a setback for the pro-democracy opposition, which was hoping to capitalize on disenchantment with the current pro-Beijing majority to make gains. A group of 22 lawmakers issued a statement ahead of the announcement accusing the government of using the outbreak as an excuse to delay the vote.
“Incumbent pro-democracy legislators, who represent 60% of the public’s opinion, collectively oppose the postponement and emphasize the responsibility of the SAR government to make every effort to arrange adequate anti-epidemic measures to hold elections in September as scheduled,” the statement said, referring to the territory’s official name, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
“Otherwise, it is tantamount to uprooting the foundation of the establishment of the SAR.”
The city of 7.5 million people has had a surge in coronavirus infections since the beginning of July. Hong Kong has recorded 3,273 infections as of Friday, more than double the tally on July 1.
Controversial security law
The government has tightened social distancing restrictions, limiting public gatherings to two people, and banned dining-in at restaurants after 6 p.m.
The lead-up to the elections has been closely watched, after a national security law that took effect in late June stipulated that candidates who violated the law would be barred from running.
The new law is seen as Beijing’s attempt to curb dissent in the city, after months of pro-democracy and anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year.
On Thursday, 12 pro-democracy candidates including prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong were disqualified from running for not complying with the city’s mini-constitution or pledging allegiance to the local and national governments.
“Beyond any doubt, this is the most scandalous election ever in Hong Kong history,” Wong said at a news conference Friday. “I wish to emphasize that no reasonable man would think that this election ban is not politically driven.”
“Beijing has staged multiple acts to prevent the opposition bloc from taking the majority in the Hong Kong legislature,” he said.
Senior officials battling White House over urgent risk of reopening schools
Public health officials are increasingly worried that states -- especially in the South -- are not seriously considering the coronavirus risks associated with reopening schools.
Trump administration officials have insisted to governors that reopening schools could be done safely, but senior officials have recently pressed White House officials to improve their messaging about the potential risks, reported The Daily Beast.
“If you have Trump going out there and saying everything is fine there’s a risk that that’s what people are going to think going back,” said one senior official. “There’s a real possibility that counties won’t implement all the measures outlined in the [Centers for Disease Control] guidelines and will just say, ‘Look, we’re doing the best we can and that’s it.’ There’s no one to enforce that stuff.”
WATCH: COVID truther goes on wild rant about communism after getting pulled over by cops
A South Carolina woman this week was caught on video going on a wild rant about Jesus and communism after a police officer pulled her over because her anti-vaccination signs were completely obscuring her car's rear window.
The video shows that the woman was driving a car that was covered in signs that protested not just economic shut downs, but also simply testing people for COVID-19.
After the officer pulled her over, she demanded to see his badge number and started yelling at him.
The officer tried to calm her down and told her there was no reason to be upset.
"Oh, no reason to get upset just because we're in communist Greenville, South Carolina?!" she yelled back. "I am not being disorderly! I have freedom of speech! You're being disorderly!"
Morning Joe busts Trump for trying to scam the public with a fake tax cut proposal
Taking up the executive orders signed by Donald Trump on Saturday, MSNBC "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough pointed out a big loophole in the president's proposal for a tax cut, saying he is hiding the fact that voters will be on the hook for deferred taxes after the election.
After first pointing out the president's contempt for Americans struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled the economy.
"It was a huge, gigantic nothingburger when you look through the policies at the end," Scarborough began. "In fact, some of the policies he put forth are going to hurt people, hurt small business owners the most. Again I go back to the payroll tax cuts -- economists, Republicans, Democrats, everybody is opposing this.