Now is not the time for civil disobedience

Dear Editor,

The announcement that Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis has contracted the COVID-19 virus is a stern reminder that the virus is no respecter of persons. We must pray for the PLP leader and the 1,300-plus Bahamians who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

With so many confirmed COVID-19 infections, Bahamians must lay down their political swords and spears and focus their energies on fighting this viral monster, rather than going to Windsor Park or on Facebook to revile the political directorate that already has its hands full.

While Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ announcement of an immediate restrictive lockdown for New Providence took many Nassuvians completely off guard, this did not give Operation Sovereign Bahamas protesters the right to stoke the flames of rebellion against the delegated authority’s emergency order, especially during a crisis of this magnitude, with so many Bahamians losing their lives.

Minnis has reversed course on the immediate implementation of a restrictive seven-day lockdown.

This will allow Nassuvians (especially essential workers) to stock up on gasoline, water, grocery and medicine, in order to prevent unnecessary hardship.

I appreciate Minnis’ desire, as a physician, to beat COVID-19, hence saving the lives of Bahamians. However, I have a gut feeling that Minnis, as prime minister, is intentionally being austere in order to discipline the Nassuvians who openly flaunted their disobedience to the competent authority on Facebook in recent days at a concert event.

I don’t believe it’s fair to punish innocent Nassuvians for the unruly culprits. Herein lies the situation The Bahamas currently finds itself in with a prime minister who is a doctor, who is morally bound to the Hippocratic Oath, unlike former prime ministers who were all solicitors.

Having said that, now is not the time for civil disobedience.

I highly doubt that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi or the Burma Road Riot organizers or the Black Tuesday protesters would’ve endorsed the Operation Sovereign Bahamas protest, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s a fine line between unruly civil disobedience and anarchy.

As a physician, Minnis obviously believes that he has medical science on his side, especially with there already being 20 deaths due to COVID-19.

Doctors would sometimes recommend an unpopular procedure or a prescription abuse to their patients.

To his credit, Minnis had announced that the National Food Distribution Task Force will continue its program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which meant that no Nassuvian should go hungry during the lockdown. How efficient this program would have been during the seven-day lockdown is anyone’s guess, considering the sheer size of New Providence’s population, which is near 300,000.

The Central Bank of The Bahamas, perhaps due to pressure from the Minnis administration, has also notified commercial lending institutions that it does not endorse their garnishing of struggling Bahamians’ National Insurance Board unemployment benefits deposited to their accounts. This should eliminate the long lines at Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, which probably is one reason for the current spike in COVID-19 infections on New Providence.

Grand Bahamians have been on a similar lockdown, yet I cannot recall there being any protests on the island. But then again, Grand Bahamians are passive. For what it’s worth, new COVID-19 infections appear to be trending in the right direction on Grand Bahama, owing to the lockdowns.

The healthcare system is nearing its breaking point, with limited beds available at Princess Margaret Hospital, coupled with overworked, exhausted healthcare professionals — a situation that would never go unnoticed by the doctor in Minnis.

Those who criticize the lockdown measures should offer an alternative plan, rather than just sit on the sidelines and criticize.

In the meantime, I implore the PLP to steer clear of Operation Sovereign Bahamas.

The antics it carried out after the prime minister’s address were politically motivated.

Kevin Evans

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