Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley is serious about his personal vacations.
Rowley once squared off with then-Prime Minister Patrick Manning about a month-long holiday, to which he insisted he was entitled.
He recently spoke of the matter at the most awkward of occasions – Manning’s funeral service.
Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that Rowley does not mess with his downtime.
Manning is reported to have commented negatively years ago about Rowley’s work ethic.
In addition, for years Rowley has been linked to golf-playing excursions on local turfs and at exquisite international greens.
He remarked that his recent four-day visit to Jamaica – during which he took in a game of cricket – was his hardest week yet as Prime Minister.
At home, he routinely enjoys a game of golf.
Now, Rowley is off on a mid-year vacation.
To be sure, leaders in every corner of the globe take time off to rest, recuperate and to enjoy quality time with their loved ones.
Like any other worker or executive, national leaders are entitled to some R&R.
But there are a few vital considerations.
No private sector boss leaves his company unattended in a state of mess and proceeds to a beach frolic with his family.
Rowley, already one of Trinidad and Tobago’s most-travelled Prime Ministers, is heading off while the crime scourge has worsened under his watch.
He is just back from Jamaica, and, a few weeks earlier, from a $2 million Ghanaian junket.
He promised to send down the crime rate.
Re-read the PNM’s general election manifesto.
Revisit his passionate campaign speeches.
Things have only worsened.
The murder spree is matched by an abysmal detection rate.
Joblessness and cost of living have climbed.
There are shortages of critical pharmaceuticals.
Many tertiary students don’t know if they would return to their classes in September.
Social and economic problems have generally been exacerbated.
Some comment that the economy is at a standstill.
The quality of life of many citizens has declined.
Many can’t afford a vacation.
On top of that is that Rowley’s Cabinet is generally inexperienced, and matched, in some cases, with unbounded haughtiness.
That is the backdrop against which Rowley is packing his sunscreen, golf clubs, and beachwear.
Trinidad and Tobago require hands-on and dynamic leadership.
No one denies our leader a few days off at mid-year.
But a lengthy vacation amid a heap of national problems and with a weak and inept Cabinet?
We register our deep concerns.