PLP deputy leader Chester Cooper. Photo: Terrel W Carey Sr/Tribune Staff
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party deputy leader Chester Cooper called on Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis to “immediately amend” the most recent lockdown order, stressing people need time to prepare for a seven-day shut down.
Meanwhile, attorney Wayne Munroe told The Tribune he plans to file legal action against Dr Minnis over the arrests of a group of protestors on Tuesday and hopes damages from successful action come from the Killarney MP’s personal funds.
In a statement released Tuesday, Mr Cooper said the government needs a structured plan that allows people access to food stores and pharmacies.
Mr Cooper said: “To announce immediate closures at night - when people are unable to get the basic things they need to survive - is completely unacceptable. As we said last night, immediately after the prime minister spoke, the decision to lock down without notice was made without consideration of the plight of the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, the elderly. This is precisely why the authority he has shouldn’t be vested in one person.
“The prime minister who talks about being from Over-the-Hill is clearly out of touch with the realities on the ground. To govern well you need a heart and an understanding of how people live – never more so than during a crisis. I spoke this morning with a single mother who does her shopping day-to-day, whenever she gets money to feed her children. What is she to do now?
“I spoke with an elderly gentleman who has no income, lives hand to mouth, and today has no food or water. The Bahamian people are peaceful and patriotic and by and large have cooperated with the orders, despite the very serious hardship they have caused. People today are hungry and understandably angry. The prime minister has lost the confidence of the Bahamian people.”
Mr Cooper said this level of shut down without warning was unconscionable.
He claimed that the national food task force was struggling to assist those who need the support.
“…Many do not have internet or data. The 311 number concept is constantly busy, leaving people cut off from the help they were promised. The essential workers are unable to shop for themselves or put gas in their cars. The elderly don’t have access to medicine or enough food or water.
“The prime minister appears to be completely deaf and blind as to how the vulnerable in this country live. He has provided no plan to get our country to the other side of this and the Bahamian people are forced to wait on his whims.”
“He has announced no targets to determine the threshold for leaving lockdown or the emergency orders.
"I end as I begin with our call for the immediate amendment of the lockdown order to allow people to properly prepare,” Mr Cooper said.
For his part, Mr Munroe said the next law suit he may bring will spring from the arrest of Tuesday’s protestors.
“I have now determined, having looked at the law, that the next set of actions that we file that may arise out of these arrests…that will be against him (Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis) and his personal capacity,” Mr Munroe said.
“The money comes from his bank account and not the public treasury. If you want to walk the walk you have to be able to write the cheque.
“We continue to say there is no state of emergency and that the emergency regulations are unconstitutional.”
Regarding the new seven-day lockdown, Mr Munroe said it is an act of ruling by “dictate”.
Mr Munroe continued: “The prime minister. . .always has this big thing about he grew up Over-the-Hill and knows the struggle of people Over-the-Hill.
“If that is so, pray tell me how can you say that you are going to lock people in their homes for seven days when they don’t have running water? That sounds like a man who either does not know or does not care.
“…And it’s not just in the inner city. There are some who live in these middle income subdivisions whose water is off and they have no running water and then he does this without notice.
“. . .It’s just amazing but that is what happens when you are privileged and you only care about privileged people because I couldn’t imagine that somebody around him couldn’t say ‘but chief how are people without running water going to make it?’"