Former member of parliament and national security minister Subhas Panday says the amendment of the Public Health Ordinance Act favours the privileged in society.
Panday was speaking during a news conference at his San Fernando law chambers where he addressed the controversial issue of the pool party at Bayside Towers in Cocorite.
Since videos of the party began circulating on social media, many people questioned why the police were lenient with those party-goers when compared to the treatment meted out residents caught partying in other areas, including Sea Lots and St James.
Panday had previously voiced his disapproval with some aspects of the amendment, including the fixed penalty for face masks. He said the Bayshore incident was a result of the “half- baked piece of legislation” which was a knee-jerk reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While a $179,000 have been inflicted for face masks for the ordinary, the privilege is partying,” he said.
Panday said the law did not deal with gated communities where a number of private residences assemble in a common area.
“You have not passed a law dealing with gated communities. The question is could those persons who were in that pool party could they have been persons who could have transmitted the COVID to other people on the outside? That is why I said the law was totally inefficient.”
In its current form, he said the law is tilted against the poor in favour of the wealthy.
“This can be clearly manifested by the Prime Minister’s statement when people complained about the $1,000 fine being too burdensome to the poor, he said, ‘If you poor don’t break the law.’ But Mr Prime Minister the law is so designed as to not to catch the privileged While the poor is being brutalised the privileged partying.”
As for the response of Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, Panday said, “I admire him on the way he attempts to deal with crime. However, on this occasion, he himself adopted a strange position in that he said, ‘Oh when there were people down by Bayshore bathing and breaking the law I only spoke to them and didn’t charge them. Well, Mr Commissioner you are really comparing zabocas with pommecytheres in that they are two completely different situations. One is where you had the power to implement the law and you didn’t do it and this is a case where the law is so inefficient you did not know if you have the ability to deal with those people.”
Panday also took a swipe at the opposition. He said the opposition appears to have been so badly beaten and brutalized by the allegations of the Government that they were obstructionists that appeared to have surrendered and have joined the government in passing bad populist legislation.
“The opposition should have called for the regulations to be subjected to the negative resolution of the Parliament so…it can be reviewed by Parliament.”
He also suggested that similar to a parent being liable if their eight-year-old child is caught not wearing a mask, landlords and/or occupiers should also be held vicariously liable for persons breaching the law on their premises.
“I humbly submit if that is done that would be a step in equating the harshness of the law,” he said.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Griffith said there was some ambiguity concerning the police’s authority to act on social gatherings at private premises. However, he said, the Bayshore pool party is still being investigated.