Home / Live Wire / Signs of the times, Kamla’s minority report and Jack lectures teachers

Signs of the times, Kamla’s minority report and Jack lectures teachers

On Friday afternoon, John “Amigo” Matthews, 54, was walking along the Eastern Main Road in Barataria when a sign for The Gate Church fell and immediately took him to meet his Maker.

An eyewitness said it was nobody’s fault but rather a tragic accident prompted by high winds. Yet, Mr Live Wire failed to notice reports about falling signs all over the country.

Was God overcome with “Tobago love” for “Amigo?” Has He developed a keen sense of irony and showmanship?

Photo: Be still and know...
Photo: Be still and know…

Or is a sign maker somewhere breathing a sigh of relief at not being questioned about his work by the relevant authorities?

Let’s just say that if the sign read “Kanhai’s Doubles: $5”, somebody might have slept in a cell last night.

In Trinidad and Tobago, power—or the illusion of power—goes unquestioned which leads to arrogance, disconnection from reality and, more likely than not, stupidity and an appearance in Wired868’s satirical segment.

So when the new PNM Government named former Petrotrin executive chairman Malcolm Jones and ex-UTT chairman Professor Ken Julien on a standing committee on energy but decided that Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie—and not committee chairman and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley or Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre—would be the one to answer questions on the appointments, Live Wire caught a familiar whiff in the air.

Cuffie, according to the Trinidad Guardian, told reporters at the post-Cabinet news conference that: “he would continue to be the only minister addressing the news conference” on Cabinet decisions.

Presumably, the new priorities of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet members do not include explaining Government decisions. Either that or the Dis-Communication Minister now has oversight of all State policy.

Photo: New Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley gestures to supporters at Balisier House after the election results on September 7. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: New Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley gestures to supporters at Balisier House after the election results on September 7.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

And where does that road lead?

Former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar gave some insight into the destination of that disillusioned path yesterday in her maiden contribution in the 11th Parliament as Opposition Leader.

“Whilst the Honourable Minister of Finance boasted that the people of Trinidad and Tobago placed their confidence in his party,” said Persad-Bissessar, “I say respectfully… that 66 (percent), two thirds of the electorate did not support them. In other words, his government is a minority one.”

It was the most bizarre Minority Report since Tom Cruise.

So the PNM Government has the majority of the minority support?

Persad-Bissessar decided to go home after the election results on September. Why didn’t she stay there?

Remarkably, it was the not the most outlandish thing that “Tanty Kamla” said yesterday.

The former Head of the National Security Council, who once appointed a junior staff member as director of her Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) and an international fugitive as National Security Minister, also made a revealing critique of the TT$10 billion National Security budget.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. (Courtesy Caricom.com)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
(Courtesy Caricom.com)

“The funding hike was for expense(s) for the combination of Justice and other portfolios with National Security and has nothing to do with crime-fighting initiatives,” said Persad-Bissessar. “(It is a) hoax or deception. Plenty money for National Security, but little to fight crime.”

Persad-Bissessar still does not understand it is the courts that fight crime. Police only apprehend suspects.

But then Live Wire is fairly certain that the things the Siparia MP does not know could fill the Rienzi Complex.

The country could not afford Persad-Bissessar as a Prime Minister. And it seems that we cannot spare the price of her as Opposition Leader either.

But she was not the only one to leave Live Wire speechless yesterday.

TTUTA president Davanand Sinanan allowed ex-FIFA vice president Jack Warner, a man wanted by Interpol and fighting an extradition request from the United States Attorney General, to deliver the feature address at a teachers convention.

Photo: Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president and TTFA special advisor Jack Warner (left) gets a police escort. Maybe he was going to TTUTA's conference. (Copyright Diego Urdaneta/AFP 2015)
Photo: Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president and TTFA special advisor Jack Warner (left) gets a police escort.
Maybe he was going to TTUTA’s conference.
(Copyright Diego Urdaneta/AFP 2015)

And, according to eyewitnesses, Warner, who once billed taxpayers over TT$6 million to tow a fire truck and turned the National Stadium into a potential death trap on 19 November 1989, received a standing ovation.

One teacher who attended said TTUTA had every right to select Warner since he was “a literate professional” and former teacher.

“Mr Warner has the ability to hold a crowd,” said the poster. “He has the gift of gab which he eloquently exercised… Nothing earth-shakingly negative occurred!

“Mr Warner has much to contribute to the ‘History of TTUTA’. Young teachers must take the opportunity to obtain his perspective before he expires…”

No mention of the fact that Warner has also lost a dozen cases for unethical business practices in the local courts, remains under investigation for a host of possible financial crimes related to the visit of former FIFA presidential candidate, Mohamed Bin Hammam, is a serial molester of local and international football accounts and still cannot properly explain the disappearance of Haiti’s aid money, which was last seen in a bank account under his control.

Photo: Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president Jack Warner. (Copyright AFP 2015/Alva Viarruel)
Photo: Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president Jack Warner.
(Copyright AFP 2015/Alva Viarruel)

Mind you, the only reason Warner has not been whisked away by the FBI is because he happens to live in Trinidad. All of the other cornered FIFA co-accused have already lost their extradition battles.

Integrity, a clean police record and whether or not you are on Interpol’s wanted list are now, presumably, irrelevant when considering one’s choice of VIP lecturers for young professionals.

“Innocent until proven guilty,” said one teacher, who may or may not have felt that a doubles vendor with a spurious reason for hiking his price epitomised everything that was wrong about Trinidad and Tobago.

If TTUTA considers Warner to be a poster boy, perhaps stealing box lunches and using school property to give paid lessons might be the least of our worries with the next crop of teachers.

Following in that vein, Live Wire has a great candidate for the feature speaker at the next graduation of police officers. Why not invite Imam Yasin Abu Bakr?

Photo: Jamaat-al-Muslimeen Imam Yasin Abu Bakr (centre) leaves the Port of Spain Hall of Justice in the company of his bodyguards. (Courtesy Power102)
Photo: Jamaat-al-Muslimeen Imam Yasin Abu Bakr (centre) leaves the Port of Spain Hall of Justice in the company of his bodyguards.
(Courtesy Power102)

He is a free man, a former police officer and a charming speaker—once everyone has paid zakat, of course.

At least Interpol is not looking for him.

AboutMr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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47 comments

  1. The UNC put corrupt Jack to act as prime minister….what a joke

  2. Sorry to disappoint but this and the incarceration of Sepp Blatter we will never see.

  3. I wonder if pnm people know this is really happenig

  4. Kamla has headed up the most corrupt Administration in the history of Trinidad and Tobago! I would love to see her in jail!

  5. JW lecturing to teachers!!!???? And it seems the Minister of Education on the same stage!! Hmmmm here we go again!!!

  6. Keyword Corruption.I admire the use of noise and solidarity as isolation now.Beautiful written,the concept though is as pluto,many will not look that far.

  7. LL lets go back to that ‘familiar whiff’ we’re getting about the Jones and Julien appointments! We the people know that major bur wrong decisions were made by these men which resulted in tons of dollars being spent unwisely! We have a Jones monument white elephant sitting in the PAP refinery – World GTL and UTT problems with the other. What value these men bringing to the table! Only hope is that the PM is the chair of this committee and we hope he can rein in their ideas!

    • And it is not just the appointments. But the feeling that the line minister and committee chairman don’t feel it necessary to answer questions on it.

    • As I said somewhere else the young ministers seem to be window dressing and these fellas will be pulling the strings. Andrea is $300M for that white elephant thats not even finished. Maybe we should ask Mr Jones who CCS Contractors in Marabella is.

    • And Maxie Cuffie seems to be the gate keeper. But I’m still waiting for an explanation of this one. And surely one will be forthcoming soon.

    • I see this approach commonly adopted by most foreign governments. At some point, I would think that the line minister and the chairman would be available for questioning but it would not necessarily correspond with every change made at that point in time in their area of responsibility

  8. It was the most bizarre minority report since Tom Cruise…. Man you kill me

  9. Ryan, that may be just it. Had he had to formulate a written release, Maxie may well have been in his element. Not every editor/writer can be transformed into an effective public speaker. some people’s best talents may be suited for behind the pen’s strokes, not in front of the microphone and the flashing lights.

  10. Ryan, that may be just it. Had he had to formulate a written release, Maxie may well have been in his element. Not every editor/writer can be transformed into an effective public speaker. some people’s best talents may be suited for behind the pen’s strokes, not in front of the microphone and the flashing lights.

  11. I somehow assumed that someone whose designated title is minister of communication would at least possess some semblance of communication skills. Every time I’ve seen this minister address a press conference thus far his relentless struggle to get the right words is painful to watch. .This from a former editor. .is doubly disappointing. .If he is truly the sole person to explain and answer questions on government’s behalf. Its either a well planned strategy or. ..A disaster in the making. .just my two cents

    • I hold no brief at all for Maxie Cuffie. But are we not doing the MInister – and ourselves- a disservice if we focus on the form and not the content of his utterances? He may struggle sometimes to find le mot juste but he generally does. And I think that is to be preferred to ministers who shoot from the lip and often misfire or miss the target.
      Besides, his verbs are not usually green, a major improvement on the last bunch, including, perhaps even especially, the former minister of education.

    • And I want to say as well that an arrangement by which the Communications Minister speaks to the country through the media instead of all ministers doing so themselves is desirable. His role is to INFORM, Lasana, not to ACCOUNT. There are structure designed for accounting and they do not include the (entirely voluntary) weekly media conferences. You don’t imagine for one second that Kamla (for as long as she remains in charge) and her colleagues won’t be asking the awkward questions that we need to have answered.
      And it won’t be at the weekly media conferences but in the Lower House, which is the appropriate place.

  12. He who has eyes to see Kendall Tull…

  13. We can have a whole TTUTA Ted Talk Lineup for the next decade. Reshmi on ‘How to Achieve High Office without too Much Sweat’; Fuad and Tim on Why Medical Doctors are Overrated’. Anil on How not to Channel your Inner Mindlessness; Fitz on How Having an Indian Friend changed my Life; Faris on Trust your Inner Musculature when Dealing with FBI Requests; Nicole ‘Water Taxis are an environmentally-friendly way to avoid Journalists’ etc

  14. Now why are we surprised about Jack lecturing teachers? Anything is possible in the TT education system, after all isn’t this the same place where education officials were stating that a stupid internet game was a plot by the devil to grab kids’ souls?

  15. That is a disturbing development.

  16. Lashings of hot pepper there, LL I’ll take a beastly cold red solo with that.

  17. Hahaha! Yuh hit them hard there

  18. I have to say though that when my daughter worked at the bank she would say that the most respectful, patient and courteous customer she dealt with was Mr Bakr.

  19. Maybe you can offer your services (for a sum of course) as an advisor. Plenty people get paid to do so last rounds and I have more confidence in you doing your job. Nobody could say then “I was not informed”or “I was not provided with that information” or I was not advised”.

  20. It’s no wonder the country overrun by crime when the persons charged with educating young minds are tacitly endorsing white collar criminals

  21. Yea boy!! Yasin is an excellent comparison

  22. Maxie Cuffie was my editor and I cannot imagine him being satisfied with the opinion of a Communications Minister on anything related to another ministry.
    So I hope PNM explains this new post-Cabinet policy.

  23. It have a feeling of written with cat claws eh but the ensuing views on your topics always manage to make us think more though sometimes it releases exposes.

  24. Sometimes I wonder if Trinidad and Tobago is a real country or if it’s just a very long play put on by someone who finds unaccountability to be funny.

  25. Maxie Cuffie was my editor more than once as a journalist. I’m struggling to imagine him saying: “Something big is happening in the Ministry of Energy. Quick, get the Minister of Communications on the phone to find out what he thinks!” :-/
    I hope the PNM explains its policy at post-Cabinet meetings. Or maybe Sampson Nanton or Juhel Browne could say if the Minister was misquoted of misunderstood.

  26. That apart, it has to be said that if TTUTA or MATT or anyone else is looking for a lecturer on writing, albeit satirical, there’s only one name to be put forward. Who else in the Trinidad and Tobago media could start where you started and end where you did with reading interest never waning in between?
    Yuh should check UWI to see if deh looking fuh lecturers maybe in their MFA programme…

  27. Scotty Ranking

    I have no problem with the Minister of Communications being the point-man in dealing with the media. After all that is part of his job description. However, I cannot agree with the total absence of line Ministers when policy-driven announcements of this nature are being made. The public has a right to ask what were the rationales used in appointing persons to these important commitees. In this, Maxie Cuffie is not the one best informed to respond to theses questions. Sorry but … The PNM government made a big booboo here. One that I hope they will draw back from and right their course …

  28. Mr Liburd, I recognise the importance of the distinction you are making with “Persad-Bissessar still does not understand it is the courts that fight crime. Police only apprehend suspects.” But are you not the same person who went to such lengths to get Wired868 readers to understand that the police ARE SUPPOSED TO apprehend suspects but far too often for anyone’s good act as judge, jury AND executioner?
    What? Is that no longer so because YOUR government is working for you? Do tell.

    • Lasana Liburd

      My position has always been: Police should apprehend and not slay suspects and the courts should rule on their guilt or innocence. That has never changed.