Yesterday, I wrote about how I think the boy in the alleged molest case that happened at the PCF childcare centre needs help. This morning, a very good friend of mine wrote a post on Facebook about the case too. This was his first post on Facebook. Ever. So he must have been very bothered by it to do so.
In case you can’t see the Facebook post, this is what Patrick had to say about Carole, the principal of the PCF childcare centre where the alleged molest case took place.
“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” I guess Shakespeare might have foretold the rise of the online kangaroo court of justice.
I was having a lovely birthday dinner last night at Shashlik, having excused myself from attending the monthly CCC meeting. Then my wife ordered the dessert, and there it was in front of me: flambéed banana! Yummy! But that got me thinking about my friend/colleague/collaborator/client Carole, who was getting flamed on-line. You see, Carole is the principal of the Taman Jurong PCF, and the subject of a letter written by a distraught mother seeking justice for her daughter and possibly some redress for herself. With each bite of the sweet, succulent banana, the ground peanut bits providing some contrasting texture, I ought to have been experiencing some rapture. Instead, I could only think of Carole flambé. So after the early dinner, I walked into the CCC meeting, which was already halfway done, just in time to hear the ongoing discussion of the PCF incident. Awesome timing! Must be my birthday present from the CCC, skipping the blah-blah-blah and getting straight to THE topic of my night.
I still have very little idea what happened at the PCF that day. I wasn’t at the scene of the ‘crime’. If you’re reading this, then neither were you, I’m sure, as nobody above the age of 6 was, or so I’ve read. So in fact, the facts have yet to be determined, but Carole is already flambéed.
Did something happen? I suppose so. Can it be considered molestation? Maybe. Is the boy a serial molester? Gimme a break! More likely a case of monkey-see-monkey-do. At age 6, his brain can’t even begin to process the immorality of his action, if indeed he did what he’s supposed to have done. Right and wrong in simple terms can be taught to young children, but becomes a sophisticated issue when dealing with molestation, a concept that a child cannot begin to comprehend in any depth till their teens.
Then his mother refused to attend her inquisition. Imagine a young (I’m just guessing here) adult, possibly 22 or 23, single mother, trying to hold things together, suddenly being summoned by the powers that be! In those shoes, I’d be frightened too.
So when answers and remedies were not pouring forth fast enough, type-type-type, and we get Carole flambé.
I’m very glad for the little girl at the centre of the issue that she has caring and concerned parents. She will need their support. I just hope she doesn’t pick up any neuroses from all the hullabaloo surrounding the case — blowing it up into a huge affair is really not helpful for her. Same goes for the boy.
Anyway, I’ve not come to bury Carole, but to praise her, to paraphrase more Shakespeare, so the multitudes of my friends, Singaporeans , and countrymen that might have read about the case can have a more balanced viewpoint.
Carole is an educator. She loves working with little kids..She’s devoted her entire career to caring for them. She’s so good at what she does that she runs not just the Taman Jurong PCF at block 161, but oversees another couple of centres in the vicinity of Taman Jurong. To let you in on a little secret, she has turned down many job offers from the competition, a couple paying double what she gets from PCF, so that she can continue serving the neediest segments of society. In short, someone who gives a damn.
Running a childcare centre is a tough job, yet clearly Carole is up to the task. Like the rest of us, she can have bad days, but this online inquisition is putting totally undue stress on her. If I had a kid in her childcare centre, I’d want her to focus on the job at hand, and not be distracted by all the online noise. Best if the online posting is removed, but like anything online, that’s going to be tough to do, so we can only drown out the noise with some positive drumbeating. Parents of kids who are in Carole’s PCF centre, or who were her students previously, you know what you need to do — support that principal!
Yes, my friend, Patrick Chan, is a grassroots leader. He has spent a lot of time over the last decade helping people from very disadvantaged backgrounds. There are days when he receives over hundreds of text messages from or about people from disadvantaged backgrounds who need help. (read this article about the great work that Patrick does).
But Patrick isn’t a PAP member. Patrick certainly isn’t one of them “PAP IB”. He is often critical of the things that the government does. He wrote that Facebook post because he truly believes that Singaporeans are too quick to judge. He sincerely wants to provide a more balanced view of the incident and of Carole. And I agree with what Patrick said about Carole.
It’s not easy being an educator. Singaporeans expect educators to be saints. To be beyond reproach. To be at their beck and call. To do no wrong. Hello. Educators also human beings leh. Can give chance or not? It’s not as if Carole was the one who did something terrible to the kids under her care, right? Yes, maybe she could have handled the parent better. Even then, we’ve only read what the parent’s account of what Carole said/did. Is that account completely accurate? Unless you were physically present, who are you to say it is or isn’t?
Ok. Fine. Let’s say Carole really said/did everything that the mother of the girl said she did. As Patrick so elegantly puts it, let’s not forget all the good that Carole has done just because she didn’t respond to the mother’s call well. It’s not as if Carole and her staff didn’t take further appropriate remedial actions. Carole and her staff have arranged for both kids to be counselled by child psychologists. The boy will not be going to the childcare centre, but the teachers will continue to stay in touch with the mother and the boy, presumably so that the boy will not miss out much on his early childhood education.
So, aside from allegedly not responding well when the mother of the girl called her, Carole has already done whatever she can to handle this very unfortunate incident. And I dare say, if you walked around Taman Jurong, ask many of the parents, especially those from lower income families, they will be singing praises of Carole. Because she has done so much for their kids.
That’s why I hope that we will be fair. Let’s not define Carole just by a single misstep. Let’s encourage her to learn from it, while remembering and celebrating all the good that she has done. Otherwise, we will end up with a society where everyone is just focussed on not being caught doing anything wrong so that we don’t get crucified by the court of public (online) opinion, but no one cares enough or dares to try to do what is right. What a sad sad society that will be.