A panoramic view of the financial area in Hong Kong. (Photo: Xinhua)
The Hong Kong Special Administration Region government had no choice but to postpone the 2020 Legislative Council election in the face of the surge in novel coronavirus infections. Those trying to politicize the decision are simply showing their schemes do not have the interests and well-being of Hong Kong residents at heart.
As Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the SAR's chief executive, rightfully pointed out, Hong Kong is facing the most serious public health emergency since January, and the number of COVID-19 cases is pushing the public hospital system to breaking point. As the number of new locally transmitted infections has surpassed 100 for more than 10 days, it is essential that large gatherings of people be avoided so as not to facilitate transmission of virus.
This is why the government has tightened social distancing restrictions, limiting public gatherings to two people, and banned in-restaurant dining after 6 pm.
Holding the election at this moment would undermine the on-going efforts to cut the transmission chains. Given the highly contagious nature of the virus, Hong Kong's high population density and many local residents' cramped living spaces, stronger and stricter prevention and control measures are essential so that the new outbreak does not spin out of control and endanger the city's more than 7 million residents.
To help admit and timely treat more patients, a makeshift hospital at the AsiaWorld-Expo, a venue near the Hong Kong International Airport, began receiving patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms on Saturday afternoon.
And at the request of the SAR government, the central government is sending a 60-member medical team to Hong Kong to help with large-scale nucleic acid tests and assist it in building temporary quarantine and treatment centers.
Yet, turning a blind eye to the seriousness of the situation, the opposition camp in Hong Kong blithely insists that the election should go ahead, even though that would likely cause a huge spike in infections and result in deaths.
Foreign anti-China forces have also latched onto the postponement as an opportunity to claim that the decision undermines the democratic processes and freedoms that have underpinned Hong Kong's prosperity. Which is both perfidious and pitiless.
Such comments and the insistence that the election go ahead show that to those with an anti-government and anti-Beijing agenda, Hong Kong's residents are not individuals of flesh and blood, merely a faceless mass that is of no significance compared to their narrow, selfish political goals. Hong Kong's residents are extraneous to their designs and therefore what harm they may expose residents to through their schemes and machinations never crosses their minds.
Such callousness is appalling. Time will prove who really cares about the welfare of Hong Kong residents and who is safeguarding the SAR's democratic processes and freedoms.