The Leader of Opposition Hon. Matthew Wale calls on the government to review the restrictions imposed on public servants, the media and the public at large, by regulations 24, 25 and 26 of the Emergency Powers (Covid 19) Regulations 2020.
The Opposition Leader notes that while the overall intention of stopping people from engaging in disseminating false, misleading and inciteful information that will scare the public unnecessarily is reasonable, the gags also restricts constructive public debate on issues that are relevant to our level of preparedness and general government management of the state of public emergency.
“There is no need for the media gag. Further, the frontline public officers’ freedom to speak out on issues affecting their work is very important to our level of preparedness.
“The termination of the President of SI Medical Association Dr. Claude Posala is an example of the overreach of these parts of the regulations. We have lost a highly specialised doctor for what is not really of weighty concern in our efforts to enhance our level of preparedness.
“I am in particular, concerned that the gag might scare our health workers and those at the front line pointing out weaknesses or serious issues in the systems that need urgent attention when they matter most.
“Government must not use emergency regulations to shield it from constructive criticism by the public in constructive debate and exchange of views. It is essential to government’s effectiveness that it is open to public criticism.
“So I call on the government to urgently review these provisions and to make the necessary amendments. As we are still at the preparedness stage, let us make sure our systems are set right,” says Hon. Wale. He adds that the freedom to disseminate information necessary to addressing defects must not be unreasonably restricted.