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Rowley vs Rowley; Live Wire eavesdrops as PM draws up new crime plan

Scene: Office of the Prime Minister. Dr Keithos convenes an urgent meeting to tackle the murder rate, which has climbed, risen and worsened but not spiked.

Keithos: (Speaking softly to Energy Minister Nicole Ollivierre) So, Nicole, how is it going so far?

Nikki: (Beaming) Good day, Prime Minister. It is all wonderful. The only little issue is…

Keithos: (Interrupting) Okay folks. You know why you are here. I need ideas to deal with the escalating murder rate now. Shoot!

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. (Courtesy Jyoti Communication)
Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Courtesy Jyoti Communication)

Fitzie: Oh Gaaaad!

(Works Minister Fitzgerald Hinds dives under table out of force of habit. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and Legal Affairs Minister Stuart Young coax him out again. Rowley rolls his eyes. Hinds regains his composure and looks a bit sheepish).

Maxie: Honourable Prime Minister, I just want to clarify… Is that an Opposition question?

Keithos: Maxie, go and check our social media pages or something. We will let you know when we need you.

(Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie leaves the room).

Dillon: Sir, should we say there is no escalating murder rate?

Keithos: Dillon, please don’t remind me why Carmona had to swear you in twice. Because I’m feeling like doing some swearing right now. Anyone else?

(National Security Minister Edmund Dillon sits down).

Dr Nyan: Dr Prime Minister, can I suggest that we revisit the budget and consider investing more money in at-risk communities, so as to give the young men and women more healthy and productive ways to burn off energy as well as increased self-esteem?

Maybe if Morvant Caledonia footballers, for instance, had more spending money than the average third form student, other young men would stop laughing at them and consider a healthier, safer and more wholesome career path?

Photo: Morvant Caledonia United captain Kareem "Tiny" Joseph (right) tumbles after a challenge from Club Sando attacker Shaquille Holder during 2015/16 Pro league action. Looking on is Morvant Caledonia coach Jerry Moe. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Morvant Caledonia United captain Kareem “Tiny” Joseph (right) tumbles after a challenge from Club Sando attacker Shaquille Holder during 2015/16 Pro league action.
Looking on is Morvant Caledonia coach Jerry Moe.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Keithos: Thank you very much, Dolly. Can you go see if Maxie wants a cup of tea?

Fitzie: Don’t blush baby.

(Finance Minister Colm Imbert, Al-Rawi and Young stifle giggles. Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gasby Dolly leaves the room).

Stewie: (Raises hand) Dr Prime Minister?

Keithos: Yes, Stuart?

Stewie: Did you see my lunch kit?

(Imbert, Al-Rawi and Fitzgerald Hinds stifle giggles).

Keithos: You think this is a restaurant?! Sit down!

Fitzie: (In hushed tone) You mean a school cafeteria?

(More stifled giggles).

Keithos: Listen, this is the first major test of our administration. This is an opportunity to show our innovation, clarity of thought and precise execution. Now, we will prove to the populace that they are under new administration. And thank God for that!

(Loud thumping on desks and applause. Excited Sport Minister Darryl Smith kisses Housing Minister Marlene McDonald loudly on her cheek).

Marlene: (Blushing) Oh gosh boy. You’re not afraid that Michael Carew finds out?

Photo: Housing Minister Marlene McDonald. (Copyright Andy Hypolite/Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: Housing Minister Marlene McDonald.
(Copyright Andy Hypolite/Trinidad Guardian)

Darryl: Who?

Colm: Don’t worry Darryl. I hear Friday is his golf day. Right now, Michael Carew, Elvis and Tupac getting ready for tee off!

(Imbert, Al-Rawi, Hinds and Young giggle again).

Keithos: What’s that?

Faris: Honourable Dr Prime Minister, we are all euphoric and bolstered by your felicitous communique and cannot wait to be enlightened by your splendid new crime fighting assessment.

Keithos: What?

Fitzie: Boss, he says he cannot wait to hear your plan.

Keithos: So why he didn’t just say that? Steups.

(Silence as everyone leans forward in their chairs).

Keithos: Folks, it is time to fight fire with fire! They want to take over our streets? Well, we will take it back by force! Dillon, I am instructing you to put soldiers on the street to nullify the criminal forces once and for all.

The time for playing footsie with the criminal elements is over! Great is the PNM!

(Loud cheers)!

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

Fitzie: Ah-paya! That is brilliant boss! Everyone will love that.

Keithos: (Cooly sipping from a glass of water). That is why I am in this chair Fitzie. That’s why I am in this chair.

Faris: Ahem. Honourable Dr Prime Minister. If I might interject… I do recall that the People’s Partnership also pursued a consubstantial undertaking during the last administration.

Keithos: (Glares at Al-Rawi).

Fitzie: Boss, he is saying that the PP did the same thing.

Keithos: It is all about skill and execution, Faris. Notice how I put B***y in his place in Parliament the other day when he wanted to play wedding planner? You see me get in trouble like Smithy and Colm? This job is about foresight and intelligence. Tell Tanty watch and learn!

(Hinds gives Rowley a high-five).

Faris: Thank you, Dr Prime Minister. And, good Sir, might I be so precocious as to canvass from you the predetermined aftereffect of this mission?

Fitzie: Boss, he wants to know why you doing that.

Keithos: It isn’t bleeding obvious?! Soldiers with heavy artillery is a whole different kettle of fish for those gangsters. We will cower them into submission and command respect from the good and bad residents alike, thereby choking crime at its source. This isn’t rocket science you know.

(Imbert whispers to Young: ‘Like Keith was watching Universal Soldier again.’ Both men snicker).

Photo: Next stop? Laventille... (Courtesy Universal Soldier)
Photo: Next stop? Laventille…
(Courtesy Universal Soldier)

Unidentified bald man: Prime Minister, with all due respect, are you assuming that soldiers will know what to do in these ‘hot spots’, simply because they carry guns? You do know they are not trained to police communities, maintain law and order or investigate crimes, right?

Isn’t asking soldiers to police ‘hot spots’ comparable to asking a carpenter to fix your fridge? Just because they both have tool belts, doesn’t mean they are interchangeable…

Keithos: Who the hell are you?!

Unidentified bald man: I am Mr Live Wire, Prime Minister. I am just trying to help…

Keithos: Get this damn man out of here! He thinks this is fun and games?! We’re trying to save lives here. Steups!

(The National Security Minister tosses Live Wire down a flight of stairs).

Faris: Dr Prime Minister, I do not wish to belabour the point…

Keithos: I bet that is the closest you ever came to labour in your entire life.

Faris: … but legislation does not procure soldiers with the capacity to search and arrest…

Keithos: The police will make the arrests.

Faris: So what will the soldiers do?

Keithos: Show we mean business and we are dead serious.

Faris: But are not the police hired to show criminals that we mean business?

Photo: Respect my authoritay!
Photo: Respect my authoritay!

Keithos: Soldiers will show we are doubly serious.

Faris: But soldiers are trained to kill…

Keithos: Good. Let us see some dead criminals for a change.

Faris: How will we ascertain that they are criminals?

Keithos: The police will point them out.

Faris: If the police know they are criminals, why not just arrest them?

(Murmurs from the room)

Keithos: Because, Faris, smart-arsed lawyers like yourself find legal technicalities to help them evade justice!

Faris: Dr Prime Minister, when you say ‘legal technicalities’, do you mean a lack of hard evidence?

Keithos: I have no intention of getting into any legal mumbo jumbo with you, Faris. I am trying to save the lives of honest citizens, not pass the bar!

Faris: Dr Prime Minister, if I may… (He begins reading from a sheet of paper)… ‘Listen to the countries who see soldier-police as a no-problem arrangement: Somalia, a country in which there is virtually no Government, Haiti, Israel, a State surrounded by enemies, virtually constantly at war; Afghanistan, Mexico, Venezuela… The Government is virtually accepting that the Police Service in Trinidad and Tobago is not in a position, or able to respond to the criminal elements…’

Photo: Wait... Was I supposed to be writing something down?
Photo: Wait… Was I supposed to be writing something down?

Keithos: Steups. Dillon, tell him again how short-staffed our Police Service is.

Dillon: We currently have 6,711 officers. But when you look at who is on leave and so on, the figure is closer to 2,000 active officers.

Faris: … ‘The problem with the Police Service cannot be solved by converting the army into police… If it is we only have 2,000 effective police officers in the standard establishment and we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on ineffective responses, why not spend that money on establishing in communities, municipal police that are effective in dealing with community policing problems?

‘They will know who the local people are and they will be more effectively dealing with them alongside the national police.

‘With all the best efforts so far, our Police Service is not in step with what the criminals are doing… Some of the skills required now in dealing with some of the crimes require special skill sets such as forensic accounting. The police service does not have the proper skill set to follow money through the system.

‘So what is wrong with hiring people who understand the international and the local financial system, to work with the police under the Commissioner of Police? We are not doing that. What we are doing is creating soldier police to put more boots on the ground and that does not change the gathering of evidence.’

Keithos: Faris, you’re an arse or a marble?! Teenagers getting dragged out of taxis and executed and you are talking about boosting the Police Service’s forensic accounting?!

Faris: ‘… One of the problems we have had over the years when police and soldiers go out, even on joint operations, is this antagonism between the two bodies, where police do not regard soldiers as police and soldiers are never happy doing police work, not getting paid while police getting overtime.

‘Soldiers get paid on a fixed arrangement and their time is available to be used 24 hours a day, no overtime and when they go out on joint patrols with police, while they are there with their fixed remuneration, police overtime running. This will have the effect on two ways: demoralise the police; and affect the Defence Force…’

Photo: Can we interest you in a new haircut, young fellah?
Photo: Can we interest you in a new haircut, young fellah?

Keithos: What the hell is that paper you’re reading from?!

Faris: Dr Prime Minister, everything I just read is out of the Hansard from your presentation in Parliament on Friday 8 March 2013 in response to Anand Ramlogan’s Defence Amendment Bill.

(Silence in the room).

Faris: If I might quote you further, Dr Prime Minister: ‘Where the police service is falling down, not only with the loss of witnesses and the loss of trust from the population; it is falling down with not having within its ranks and within its effort, proper investigative skills and tools so as to go after criminals and detect the crime and hold the perpetrator.

‘And until we, as a people, come to a point where our policing is delivering detection of crime and the apprehension of miscreants, and the successful prosecution and conviction of those persons, we are not impacting on crime at all…

‘We are doing things for show. We are politicising crime.’

(Hinds coughs nervously).

Faris: Let me go on: ‘Every time there is a spike in crime in certain areas, they get lockdowns—so they lock down and open up, so they last for a few days, lock down and open up and that is another crime plan.

‘Just a few months ago, we had Laventille under “boots” and the Government is telling us every street in Laventille is being patrolled by soldiers. Yes, that might be so, but is that sustainable? How long was it sustained for?

‘Do we have the manpower to make the crime plan, a crime plan where the plan is that soldiers will be on every street walking up and down Laventille?

‘That might look good, or sound good; it is not sustainable and largely ineffective because the criminals just wait out the soldiers because they know, very soon, they are going back to barracks; back to square one…’

(Al-Rawi pauses for impact).

Photo: Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
Photo: Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

Faris: So, Dr Prime Minister, in light of this speech, which is available to everyone online, how do you really propose we proceed?

(All eyes in the room turn to Rowley, who stiffens in his seat. Rowley gets off his chair and paces the floor with hands clasped behind his back. Then, dramatically, he turns to face his Cabinet and slams his first on the desk).

Keithos: This time, we will keep the soldiers on the street. Permanently!

(The room erupts in cheers. Smith kisses McDonald again. Someone covers Young with a blanket and momentarily holds him outside a window).

Fitzie: You ketch them boss! Excellent plan!

Keithos: Faris, make yourself useful for once and call Maxie. And tell him don’t mess up this announcement eh… As a matter of fact, forget Maxie. Dillon and I will announce this ourselves.

The people should hear this from their prime minister. Great idea, eh Dillon?

Dillon: Yes, Prime Minister.


Editor’s Note: This column is pure satire and all conversations are faked. No offence is meant at parties named; although they probably deserve it.

And, of course, our thanks to former British sitcom: Yes, Prime Minister.

About Mr. 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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  1. Let me repeat one particular excerpt eh Rhoda. Because I see that people washing their mouth on the residents in Laventille for not coming forward and giving information on criminal activity to the (corrupt) police force:
    (Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley)
    “And instead of coming here, wasting time with this, trying to create soldier police, we would have been happy today to have come here to do something, Mr. Speaker, about ensuring that something is done so that the average person in this country does not feel that if he or she is a witness, that that is a death sentence.”

  2. Marcus and Vernal, let me return to the Hansard if I may. This is Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley talking about the Govt’s boast about arrests:
    “this Government and their spokespersons behave as though arresting people is an end in itself. Arrest is towards a purpose. Arrest is towards, you constrain somebody; you charge them on an offence; you gather evidence; you go to court and in the court your evidence is tested; you get a conviction and only after you get a conviction is the sentence an issue. They talk as though it is about arrest and sentence. You are hearing about no bail. Before you could grant no bail, you have to have somebody to not bail.
    What is happening in the country right now is that the criminals are so “boldface” that they are walking straight past people and commit murder in front your face. In fact, they want you to see them when they commit the murder because once you see them, they and their friends know if the police “come and apprehend them”, they know who the informant is and you are the next ghost. So nobody wants to be a witness in Trinidad and Tobago. And instead of coming here, wasting time with this, trying to create soldier police, we would have been happy today to have come here to do something, Mr. Speaker, about ensuring that something is done so that the average person in this country does not feel that if he or she is a witness, that that is a death sentence.
    We think that it is possible that we could do with legislation, certain things to be a deterrent to persons who interfere with witnesses, because without witnesses—voluntary or otherwise—there will be no criminal justice system, and whether we like it or not, we are at that point in Trinidad and Tobago where we are without witnesses, because to be a witness in the current condition is possibly to sign your own death warrant.
    What we want to do with the Government is to change the law to make it such that it becomes from now mandatory, that any person who is convicted of interfering with a witness must get a serious sentence of jail right now. So the jail for interfering with a witness must be equal to, or more severe than the crime that you committed, and they will then know that if “I interfere with a witness I am doubling the penalty I might face in the end”. Until we get to that route, we are wasting time, Mr. Speaker. Wasting time!”

  3. Headless chicken anyone?….. there’s enough to go around it seems.

  4. I am hearing that arrest have been made four suspect

  5. As the saying goes Vernal. Fool me once? Shame on you. But fool me twice? Shame on me…

  6. Remember the SoE?
    I thought the former administration were going to deploy the military for a short period while they implemented the much needed amendments to Trinidad and Tobago’s policing short comings.
    When all was said and done it was back to the normal third world brand of law enforcement as before.

  7. I’m desperate enough to say it is better than nothing Keith. But not by much. I’d just like a government to have a real go at fixing the problem.

  8. Lasana Liburd thanks for the laugh but this piece is really very sad.

  9. IMHO our judiciary has been a long standing problem also.

  10. How do we weed out the corrupt element in our protect and serve with pride? Retire them all as we recently did to one?

  11. ..Ok. Ok. I give in. Let us just continue with what we have. Good luck with reforming the police..

  12. Ok always thought that they didn’t get along well

  13. I swear to God they may as well place Trevor Sayers in charge of national security ……… he’s full of fake solutions as well!

  14. And when soldiers hang out with them, they get out doing corrupt activities too Brian. That’s what happened the last time. So it ent that simple.

  15. Could it be due to the fact that our police service seems to be over corrupt?

  16. It cannot impact crime. Rowley himself said so, two years ago.

  17. I too have my concerns whether this is the best approach, but I am also willing to give it a try in the short term. Do something, anything!

  18. I mean seriously ….. this is the what number time poldiers have been deployed, how has it impacted crime in the long run?

  19. I’m still at a loss as to what the military is expected to accomplish here, there’s no armed insurgency to put down, and if the police lack the capacity to identify murderers, gather incriminating evidence against them and arrest and lay charges then I doubt the army can!

  20. Lol. Well, I just hope the Army wets the right people. Only the courts can decide who is a criminal. Not the police and certainly not the army.

  21. ..I hear that Lasana. But police reform, recruitment and training takes time. Meantime, let the Army wet them..

  22. Soldiers are trained to kill. Not solve crime. Why not hire more police? Or work on making police force more effective? Or brainstorm about improving our judicial system?
    I am happy for an ease in the bloodletting eh. But I’ve been down this road before. And it is a roundabout.

  23. ..Legitimate concern. The Army must police it troops. But turn them loose man…

  24. and thats my one concern really. is why I opposed the last govts attempt to legislate so that they have certain powers. that can only mean bad IMO. but still, I stand by my view on setting them up in these communities. at least we could save some lives. however, the issue of corrupt law enforcement officers can’t be addressed by keeping them away can it? shoudl be disband the police service then? no, we could do much better, we could clean the stables.

  25. I think our memory has a way of mellowing stuff out. I spoke with a former high ranking soldier and he said when they did it under Gary Griffith, they realised the soldiers were becoming corrupted too. They began getting increasing complaints about soldiers breaking into homes and stealing on the pretence of conducting searches. And violence against civilians.
    To say that soldiers will become a permanent fixture on the streets… I’m concerned bout that.

  26. If martial law was so wonderful, everyone would live under it. So if Laventille was crawling with police, the gangsters would continue shooting people with impunity?
    Something is very wrong with this picture and I’d just like to feel that we are going somewhere with our responses and not spinning top in mud.
    If Rich Plain and the SOE and those other periods when the army were sent to fight with our own civilians were so wonderful, then why did they stop?

  27. ..Of course. But if you bleeding you need to apply pressure to staunch the blood until you can get more serious treatment. What is the alternative? Cry and complain? Let the Army have them. It works. Remember when they went into Rich Plain? John John? Howl many murders were reported while they were on the ground there? Old jungle saying: Phantom is rough with roughnecks!..

  28. Not the same initiative but, to me, both see the same problem and try to use the same bandaid. Meaning using the soldiers to make up for a deficiency in the police with no sign of when or how the real problem will be addressed.

    • I have concerns about soldiers getting the same powers as police.
      I am expecting to hear of a multi pronged approach in these communities.
      Stuart Young mentioned initiatives linked to evidence and testimony to improve crime detection. I want to see more of that.
      I also want to hear Crichlow Cockburn-discuss initiatives for these at risk communities. Soldier patrols alone will barely make a dent. What it will do is reduce the current panic and hysteria in the communities over the killings.

  29. Lasana Liburd…quick question…you see these patrols as being the same thing as the Soldier Police initiative launched by Warner?

  30. Serious business and this guy making me laugh my arse off….well done!!

  31. Not that funny…but this soldiers on the streets thing is overdone…

    I mean gosh man

  32. In any case, I think Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley expressed my reservations more eloquently than I could. 😉

  33. I spoke to a former high ranking soldier last night. He said one of the reasons they stopped the joint patrols last time was that soldiers began to be corrupted too.
    They began to get increasing complaints about soldiers breaking into homes on the pretence of conducting searches and stealing jewellery and what not.
    There is no quick fix for sure.
    Yes, it might stem the blood letting for a bit. But it isn’t a crime plan.

  34. hey, what you wuh mih to say again. I tell yuh I aint got no real issue with the thing per se. other than it not being a proper crime plan. I am saying again, it needed in those communities if people can feel some bit of safety in their own homes as they take their children to school as children walk to and from school. maybe the PM is working on an holistic crime plan, already he is looking at the education system acknowledging that children are just “passing through” even as we spend hundreds of millions. a proper crime plan when introduced will take a very long time as long as starting from the preschool and reconditioning those minds. and then there is poverty that has to be addressed and definitely not by increasing CEPEP and URP. so what the hell you want me to say again girl.

  35. Best part was his words straight out of Hansard

  36. Lol. Don’t take my word as to why it is a bad idea as a crime preventative plan. Ask Rowley yes.

  37. I must say, this was a good read. Had me laughing at serious ting.

  38. A stint as a playwright next? Derek Walcott better watch out.

  39. Oh gorm! I’m laughing already just at the caption. I know where this is heading!

  40. Laugh and cry… Same house! Lol

  41. If it didn’t hurt to laugh I’d be rolling on the floor. Love it

  42. ..LOL.Yuh right. PP did it too. But i agree. While we waiting for social and educational programmes – Set the Army on them! The PoPo ain’t able..