Ardern and Bhutto: Two leaders, two very different pregnancies

Jacinda Ardern and Benazir Bhutto. (Getty images)
Updated 21 June 2018

Ardern and Bhutto: Two leaders, two very different pregnancies

  • Twitter user @zaichishka, who describes herself as a Welsh-Kiwi, wrote: "4.693 million New Zealanders (give or take) just became aunts and uncles"
  • "None of us in the cabinet virtually knew that this prime minister was about to deliver a baby," Javed Jabbar, a member of her cabinet

AUCKLAND: Instagram posts, national excitement and well-wishing from political rivals: Jacinda Ardern's journey to motherhood was very different to that made three decades earlier by Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the only other world leader to have given birth while in office.

Ardern's daughter came into the world on Thursday, 28 years after the late Bhutto's daughter Bakhtawar was born.

New Zealand's youngest-ever prime minister announced her pregnancy in January, posting a symbolic photo on social media and sparking warm words from across the political spectrum.

"I'll be prime minister and a mum," she said on Facebook, adding that her partner Clarke Gayford, who hosts a television fishing show, would be a "stay-at-home dad".

"I think it's fair to say that this will be a wee one that a village will raise, but we couldn't be more excited," she added.

The intervening months have seen a frenzy of excitement from New Zealanders, many of whom took to the web on Thursday to express their happiness.

Twitter user @zaichishka, who describes herself as a Welsh-Kiwi, wrote: "4.693 million New Zealanders (give or take) just became aunts and uncles."

It was all a far cry from 1990, when Bhutto, the first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim-majority nation, told almost no-one she was pregnant until Bakhtawar was born on January 25.

"None of us in the cabinet virtually knew that this prime minister was about to deliver a baby," Javed Jabbar, a member of her cabinet, told the BBC recently.

"And then lo-and-behold suddenly we learn that she has not only gone and delivered democracy she's also delivered a baby."

Opposition leader Syeda Abida Hussain had called Bhutto "greedy" for wanting to have "motherhood, domesticity, glamour, and whole responsibility" rather than make sacrifices for her country.

News that Ardern was expecting prompted then New Zealand opposition leader Bill English to send his congratulations and hope that she was given "the space to be able to conduct relatively normal family life".

He said Ardern should be allowed to acclimatise to motherhood and not be held to higher standards because she was prime minister.

"It is an incredible privilege to be a parent. A new child will bring real joy to their lives. We wish them all the best," he said.

Ardern will be taking six weeks maternity leave before returning to office, with her deputy Winston Peters assuming the reins, although she will remain on call for any matters of significance.

In contrast, Bhutto, fearing she was in danger of being overthrown, travelled incognito to a Karachi hospital, underwent a Caesarean section, then returned to work.

"The next day I was back on the job, reading government papers and signing government files," she later wrote.

"Only later did I learn that I was the only head of government in recorded history actually to give birth while in office.

"It was a defining moment, especially for young women, proving that a woman could work and have a baby in the highest and most challenging leadership positions."

Bhutto, however, was dismissed from office eight months later. She returned as prime minister from 1993 to 1996 and was assassinated in 2007.

Had she lived, Thursday would have been her birthday.
James Shaw, the leader of New Zealand's Green Party, which is a member of New Zealand's ruling coalition with Ardern's Labour Party and New Zealand First, said the birth of the prime minister's child represented New Zealand values.

"That a woman can be the prime minister of New Zealand and choose to have a family while in office says a lot about the kind of country we are and that we can be -- modern, progressive, inclusive, and equal," Shaw said.


Philippines cracks down on clandestine COVID-19 clinics

Updated 29 May 2020

Philippines cracks down on clandestine COVID-19 clinics

  • Intelligence, immigration officials investigating illegal facilities that catered mostly to foreigners

MANILA: The Philippines has intensified its crackdown on uncertified medical facilities offering treatment to people, particularly foreigners, with COVID-19 symptoms.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to help the Philippine National Police (PNP) track down foreign nationals behind the illegal clinics.
“It seems that clandestine medical clinics catering mostly to foreign nationals have sprouted and have been operating without proper authority,” Guevarra told reporters.
He said the facilities could have compromised the health of those who had undergone treatment.
“I’ll therefore ask the NBI and the BI to help the police in locating other similar underground clinics and the people running them, and if warranted, to file the appropriate charges against them,” he added.
Guevarra issued the order following a raid on Tuesday on an illegal clinic catering to Chinese patients in Makati City. Arrested in the operation were Chinese nationals Dr. David Lai, 49, and Liao Bruce, 41.
The clinic was reportedly operating without a permit, while the arrested did not have a license to practice medicine in the country.
Seized from the site were swab sticks, vials, syringes and boxes of medicine with Chinese labels — believed to be unregistered with the Food and Drug Administration.
Last week, law enforcers also swooped on a makeshift hospital for Chinese patients in the Fontana Leisure Park in Clark, Pampanga province.
The raid came after police received information that a COVID-19 patient was “undergoing medical attention” in a Fontana villa.
Arrested during the raid were Chinese nationals Liu Wei, who reportedly supervised the facility, and Hu Shiling, allegedly a pharmacist. Both were released on the same day without charge.
Immigration officials on Thursday said the duo had been placed on their watch list to prevent them from leaving the country while an investigation is underway.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said intelligence operatives will trace four of the patients, and are looking into the case of the Chinese nationals arrested in Makati.
“I’ve instructed our intelligence division to investigate if these alleged Chinese doctors are legally staying in the country,” he said.
“Should we find they violated our immigration laws, they’ll be charged with deportation cases before our law and investigation division,” he added.
“Even if no criminal charges were filed against them, they can be charged for immigration law violations if we can establish that they violated the conditions of their stay in the country.”
If criminal charges are filed, however, the BI will only deport them after their cases have been resolved or they have served their sentences, if convicted.
Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros called for the “immediate deportation and blacklisting” of the Chinese nationals because of their “blatant disregard of our laws.”
She added that while the Philippines is working hard to protect its people from the virus, “these criminals freely roam and pose a danger to public health.”