STORY by RAVI BALGOBIN MAHARAJ
“The human infant of all the mammals is said to be the most helpless, therefore, from early life, a child’s first need is to bond with its parents. As such, much of the crime and violence we see today can be traced back to persons carrying emotional wounds, with vague feelings of unwantedness (sic) in their early life.” Dr. the Hon. Keith Rowley, in his New Year’s Message to the Nation.
I generally try to avoid commenting on the personal affairs of those in public life, because it usually has no bearing on national affairs. That being said, as the Prime Minister is now mandating a shift in his administration’s policies to focus on the well-being and welfare of children, it bears mentioning that Dr. Rowley is probably the least credible person in the current government to be making these types of declarations.
While we do not have all of the details, it is a known fact that of the four children Dr. Rowley has fathered during his lifetime, only two were privy to the parentage that he is stressing here, and the irony that it was the two boys who were forced to develop without a father figure, makes it even more tragic. An argument could be made that it was the recognition of his failures in this regard which prompted the change in attitude, especially as it was only recently that he publicly acknowledged their existence.
But to leave that out of the message was an opportunity tossed, both in the form of an apology to both his sons and their mothers, as well as an example of why such parenting is necessary. Instead, as has become typical with such announcements, Dr. Rowley would much rather ignore the mistakes of his past and focus on the sanctimonious drivel, and as such never comprehends the hypocrisy of it all.
Under Rowley, the children of the nation suffered the most
And speaking about hypocrisy…
If there is any group of people that have been targeted by the current PNM administration as they cut and slashed through public expenditure it would be the children, who probably have suffered the most. One of the first acts of the Prime Minister once taking office was to suspend the activities at the Children’s Life Fund, a charity set up under the umbrella of his office which was meant to aid those children who could not find treatment locally.
While Dr. Rowley justified the decision by claiming it was to conduct an audit into the finances of the Fund, it should be noted that no foul play was ever found nor were any discrepancies ever unexplained. And while the Fund did resume its operations after this fiasco had run its course, the output has never matched that of its prior existence. And I am sure that Dr. Rowley might justify such a decision as a byproduct of the slow economy and the diminished resources of the Fund, but it should also be noted that government funds were not called into question when other members of his own Cabinet also sought healthcare outside of our borders.
Or course, this is not the only attack that the PNM has lobbed against children in this country, as who can forget that after four years, the building once earmarked as a Children’s Hospital in Couva remains unopened, save for a handful of activities such as a pharmaceutical dispensary.
The Couva Children’s Hospital, which was designed to be at the cutting edge of paediatric care in the Caribbean, was not only reassigned to status as a General Hospital but was also stripped of much of the modern equipment which was then installed at other facilities across the country. As such, children are now forced to contend with the droves of adults that continue to clog up the public health institutions under the mismanagement of the current administration, but as previously mentioned, they are also restricted in getting financial aid to seek their healthcare outside.
The laptop program
One of the other big cuts this PNM administration made was the laptop program which was meant to provide that less fortunate students with access to a technology they may not have been able to afford. The PNM sought to excuse this by announcing first that they would be replacing these personal computers with labs that could be accessed in the schools, and then with a counter-offer of providing the students with tablet devices instead.
While the exception of a few computer labs opened for the sake of public relations, neither of these programs has ever come to fruition and as such, all the PNM accomplished was to abolish a program that was working without implementing any real alternatives.
There are mainly two items that children seek from any government, health, and education, and the PNM have failed in both areas. And as such it makes sense that Prime Minister proposes that it is the families of these children who should be paying more attention to them, as the PNM has no intention of doing so. As someone who tries desperately to emulate the “Father of the Nation”, Dr. Rowley has instead demonstrated that he is instead the “Deadbeat Dad of the Nation” both in a professional capacity and his private life all the same.