Update (1050ET): The White House has spoken out against Hong Kong's decision to delay its election.
WHITE HOUSE SAYS WHITE HOUSE CONDEMNS DECISION TO DELAY HONG KONG ELECTION pic.twitter.com/cK91jYhwdr— RANsquawk (@RANsquawk) July 31, 2020
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President Trump's mere "suggestion" that the US ought to think about delaying the November election (Nov. 7, 2024 sounds like a pretty safe date) unleashed a torrent of hysterical commentary as the president's dedicated #resistance critics accused the president of wilfully subverting our great democracy - despite the fact that even WaPo is worried about the USPS "backlog" and the risk that some mail-in ballots won't arrive by November.
The hysteria dominated yesterday's news cycle, despite the fact that Trump's tweet was in all likelihood intended to distract from the abysmal Q2GDP data released Thursday morning...
Trump's 'let's delay the election' tweet was clearly intended to distract from the Q2 GDP print on a slowish news day...yawn https://t.co/Capw9L5VuP— jsadinolfi (@jsadinolfi) July 30, 2020
...now, in an amusing coincidence, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam on Friday announced that the city state would postpone its elections set for the fall as the "third wave" of SARS-CoV-2 causes more outbreaks than the prior two waves (prompting HK to crack down on indoor dining/bars and impose the most restrictive social distancing measures yet).
Here's more from the SCMP:
Hong Kong’s embattled leader has invoked emergency powers to postpone the Legislative Council elections scheduled for September 6, citing health risks from the resurgent Covid-19 crisis as the primary reason.
Flanked by the ministers for justice, health and constitutional affairs, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told a press conference on Friday evening the decision was the most difficult she had made in the last seven months.
“Since January, we have been fighting the pandemic for seven months. This pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to our economy,” she said.
“We have not been complacent. We need to be on high alert all the time and respond.
“We are facing a serious situation … The World Health Organisation’s chief recently said we sometimes need to make some hard choices, and my decision today is the hardest of all."
Lam said she was invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance in doing so, and her decision was supported by the central government.
Beijing supports canceling September's legislative elections? Color us shocked. Domestic pro-democracy critics immediately slammed the HK government for using COVID-19 as a ruse to crack down on freedoms in the city, where a new 'national security' law has given authorities sweeping powers to punish anybody for political dissent that is now legally tantamount to terrorism. Yesterday, we reported that 4 teens in the city had been arrested for political social media posts.
The decision comes as Hong Kong reports a record single-day jump in new COVID-19 cases, extending the streak of 100-plus single-day infection numbers.
Americans should probably pay closer attention to what's happening in Hong Kong - because President Trump clearly was. Lam's decision to cancel the September vote followed a decision on Thursday to disqualify at least a dozen opposition hopefuls who managed to qualify for the vote, per the SCMP.
In a statement released earlier, 22 pan-democrat lawmakers, including four barred from seeking another term, said the Legislative Council elections were a core element of Hong Kong’s constitutional foundation.
“According to the Legco Ordinance, the polls can only be postponed by 14 days,” the statement said. “To postpone it [beyond that] is to trigger a constitutional crisis in the city.”
“After a year of democratic movement, it is urgent for Legco to undergo a baptism of public opinion, that is the root of the city’s governance...The government and the whole of society must make every effort to make sure that the general elections can be held as planned.”
election officials cited the city’s new national security law and the pan-democrats’ previous calls for foreign governments to sanction Beijing and Hong Kong as reasons for barring four incumbent lawmakers – the Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Dennis Kwok and Kwok Ka-ki, as well as accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung.
Other disqualified opposition figures included Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Ventus Lau Wing-hong, Gwyneth Ho Kwai-lam and Alvin Cheng Kam-mun, along with district councillors Cheng Tat-hung, Lester Shum, Tiffany Yuen Ka-wai and Fergus Leung Fong-wai.
Returning officers cited similar reasons for their invalidation and their earlier vow to vote down the government’s budget and other bills, should the bloc win an unprecedented majority in the legislature.
Opposition lawmakers accused the central government of trying to deprive HKers of their right to vote, and noted that more than 60 elections have been held worldwide since the start of the outbreak, either right on schedule or after a brief delay. But Beijing was never going to risk an embarrassing electoral defeat in the LegCo. Opposition lawmakers probably understood that going in, now that Hong Kong's freedoms have been stripped away by the new Nat Sec law.