Mr Live Wire looks into a mysterious half-mast national flag on Sabga’s funeral day

Sometime on the eighth day of May in the year of our Lord two thousand and seventeen, verily Trinidad and Tobago was smitten with a mysterious sign.

As the funeral for the late Dr Anthony Norman Sabga ORTT took place at the Church of the Assumption on Long Circular Road, St James, the Trinidad and Tobago flag flew at half-mast near to the Amalgamated Security headquarters in Tunapuna.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago flag flies half-mast at the Amalgamated Security compound in Tunapuna on 8 May 2017. Or did it? Muahahahaha...
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago flag flies half-mast near the Amalgamated Security compound in Tunapuna on 8 May 2017.
Or did it? Muahahahaha…

Other than the day of the death and funeral of the president, prime minister, president of the Senate, speaker of the House of Representatives or members of Cabinet, local law only allows for the Minister of National Security to determine a suitable occasion for such a recognition.

And, as Wired868 confirmed, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon gave no such directive.

“That is not for a private citizen or private company to decide,” said an insider at the National Security Ministry. “Do they think they have their own country?”

No private citizen can do as they wish with the national flag. Even when the private citizens in question were Amalgamated CEO Michael Aboud and the late great “El Patron” Sabga—or, as his loving staff referred to him, Chairman Emeritus of Ansa McAl, Dr Anthony N Sabga ORTT.

It sounded far-fetched.

Aboud, lest we forget, is one of over a dozen “businessmen” who snagged prime State lands in Chaguaramas at fire sale prices in a land grab that might have ended with an eviction notice served by a small brigade of soldiers and lawmen if his nickname was, say, “Robocop.”

Instead, the most unpleasant task the Chaguaramas cowboys appear to have faced so far was letting children from Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis’ constituency into a petting zoo on the north-west peninsula.

So did Aboud plan to secede? Was he laying claim to Tunapuna too?

Was he suggesting that Sabga was as deserving as the last non-Trinidad and Tobago parliamentarian to receive the honour, the late former South Africa president Nelson Mandela?

Photo: Late Ansa McAl chairman Anthony Norman Sabga.
Photo: Late Ansa McAl chairman Anthony Norman Sabga.

Was the half-raised Trinidad and Tobago flag near Aboud’s company an act of love, a declaration of war or a combination of the two—something like a night out with Machel Montano, for instance?

Mr Live Wire called Aboud for comment. Naturally, Aboud was too busy to speak to an imaginary columnist from a website that probably makes less money than his grandchildren’s allowance.

But an employee who did not share her name assured the country that everything was fine.

“No, the flag is not at half-mast,” she told Wired868. “I just went outside and checked.”

It was the classic Anil Roberts defence: Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

“Ehh, so you are saying that, despite the photograph, the flag was never at half-mast?” Live Wire enquired. “And no order was given to fly it at half-mast?”

“That’s correct,” she responded.

And what possible motive could she have to concoct such a flaming, boldfaced lie in the face of damning evidence—other than to save her boss and company from public embarrassment in the face of their own illegal action, of course?

As it turned out, the flag in question had nothing to do with Amalgamated but belonged to FireOne FX. And, according to FireOne communications officer George Elias, the problem was a faulty motor which malfunctioned as the flag was halfway up the pole.

Mystery solved? Errr…

Live Wire tried to ask a follow-up question about a flag that sputtered and stopped exactly halfway up the pole but stopped short when he heard: “Now you’re in the sunken place.”

Photo: Get. Out...
Photo: Get. Out…

To be honest, he didn’t remember what happened after that.

All we know is that the owner of the Trinidad Guardian newspaper died on World Press Freedom Day—another possible sign that God might be a satirist—and things have been a bit disorienting ever since.

Live Wire started his own journalism career at the Trinidad Guardian over two decades ago. Although, quite rightly, the newspaper might not have that little known—or cared about—fact among its list of accomplishments.

After the passage of time and thousands spent on therapy, Live Wire no longer has that unsettling dream where ‘Norm’ leans over and whispers in a deep, low voice: “I am your father.”

Sabga surely deserves credit for the fact that his company was the birthplace for so many careers in this sometimes noble profession and provided a livelihood for possibly thousands of media workers over the decades.

Even though the Guardian is an acquired taste these days. Like hummus. Arguably often without the nutritional value.

For sure, Sabga doesn’t deserve a half-cocked, half-baked stunt like a half-raised flag in contravention of Trinidad and Tobago laws on our national emblem.

Thank goodness Amalgamated Security and FireOne FX says it never happened then.

In the history of bizarre pole dances—and Live Wire remembers a rosy Scottish stripper in Dundee, after hearing his Trini accent, once offering the exact location in south Trinidad where then San Fernando mayor Ian Atherly allegedly housed her for nearly six months—well, the half-mast flag-that-wasn’t is right up there.

Photo: A pole dancer prepares to start her routine. (Courtesy Literary Hub)
Photo: A pole dancer prepares to start her routine.
(Courtesy Literary Hub)

Editor’s Note: Response from FireOne FX:

1. Contrary to your report the flag is the property of FireOne FX and NOT Amalgamated. 

2. The situation was rectified by 10 o’clock and had been the result of a faulty motor.

3. This was actually the first day in weeks that the flag had been flown. (Hence the reason why the winch malfunctioned).

Wired868 statement:

Wired868 regrets our initial inaccurate headline, which referenced Amalgamated Security. The name of the relevant company had eluded us, despite the fact that we called Amalgamated to confirm.

However, the crux of the story remains the same and, for that reason, we have not withdrawn the story. Rather, we have substituted FireOne for Amalgamated as the company in charge of the flag flown at half-mast on the day of the funeral  of the late Dr Anthony Norman Sabga.

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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. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    Is there a problem ? Lots of fellas can identify with this.

  2. It’s not too late in our nation-s history to get some one from the min.of national security to address the issue of flag protocol….

  3. Very pro-state. Have some disdain for authority sheeple!

  4. Well I guess it was because the Syrian business community owns like 1/8 the Trinidad economy and contribute more than any local politician that comes to mind. Plus they’ve probably financed the party currently in power since inception. This story was a non starter to begin with, so much more pressing issues.

  5. ^^^^^^^
    Posting he shit does damage yuh credibility yuh know?

  6. Foolishness. That flag is up day and night. I pass there morning and evening. FireOne telling tales.

  7. Someone needs to alert UWI then, because I am certain I have seen the T&T flag in front of admin flown at half mast for other than national statesmen – or perhaps I was hallucinating.

  8. Whatever the reasons for the error, whether genuine or not, note that many citizens are unaware of similar protocols. Eg. when singing the National Anthem arms are to be straight down the side of the legs, hands in a fist with the nails of the thumbs facing forward (kind of difficult to describe without visuals). However, many people are grabbing their chest. I saw this recently done by the local MC of a Queens Hall event which featured a Cuban dance group. Further, when singing the National Anthem we are to face the flag but in the absence of the flag we face forward. You would notice at sporting events athletes are schooled in this so they turn to the flag but spectators simply face front. This was observed at the recent FIH Round 2 event.

  9. Is like if the father of the nation passed. But then again he was but undercover.

  10. The own the gov’t…so it’s more or less the same thing

  11. In this pappyshow land everything is a pappyshow……David Rudder

  12. Mr Anthony Sabga contributed a lot to Trinidad & Tobago and the Region. RIP Sir.

  13. So Wired started off at the Guardian …and ended up at 868…Some satirists, not me, would suggested he held on for quite a while hoping Mr. Liburd would come back home to roost.

  14. Besides government officials the flag could be flown at half mast …. on other occasions as may from time to time be prescribed by the Minister of National Security…. This building is the main office of their Estate Police, they are contracted for National prison duties, so most likely they would have gotten the required permission from the Minister. They still transport the nation’s prisoners I believe.

    • Oi there was a statement by the person assigned to communicate on their behalf….if they have a CONTRACT to transport Prisoners or Print papers for the Government. ..all protocols must be obseved wrt the National Flag….that is not a National Building

  15. Three points of clarification if I may.

    1. Contrary to your report the flag is the property of FireOne FX and NOT Amalgamated.

    2. The situation was rectified by 10 o’clock and had been the result of a faulty motor.

    3. This was actually the first day in weeks that the flag had been flown. (Hence the reason why the winch malfunctioned)

    In the interest of transparency and full disclosure kindly note that I am currently retained by FireOne in a communications related capacity.

    We will be issuing a statement on the matter shortly.

    Thank you.

    • Thanks for clearing that up. Will add this.

    • So sad that you had to issue a statement at all. 🙂

    • Respectfully, the story should be withdrawn altogether. The headline is offensive to both the national population as well as members of the Syrian / Lebanese Community. And once Amalgamated is taken out of the equation, the piece reads like an excuse to score cheap points at their expense.

      But hey, they arent my clients…

    • I cannot change the initial headline on the old posts George. Even if I took down the story, anybody who has shared it will see the same headline.
      However, the updated story carries a different headline: “Mr Live Wire looks into a mysterious half-mast national flag on Sabga’s funeral day”
      You see that bit remains unchanged, even with your excuse/explanation.

      • Despite your update, the story still reads as if there were a connection between Amalgamated Security and the flag, e.g. “near to the Amalgamated Security headquarters in Tunapuna” or “near Aboud’s compound” etc. You have the facts! If you want to indicate a location, use the correct one. There is no sense in even mentioning Amalgamated when it was not on our compound neither our flag. This whole flag issue had absolutely nothing to do with Amalgamated. Also, you are still accusing one of our employees of having blatantly lied to you, where she simply told you the truth: our national flag (in front of our South entrance) was flying as it is supposed to. Maybe the original story was an honest mistake, but if you adhere to the facts and withdraw Amalgamated of the story altogether, there is no story anymore. You are still implying assumptions that lack any base at all, e.g. “Was the half-raised Trinidad and Tobago flag near Aboud’s company an act of love, a declaration of war or a combination of the two” How could a flag that is flying on a neighboring compound be anything like an act of love or a declaration of war by somebody … if it is not his flag??? Alike, many other parts of your article, if not most, do not make sense anymore after the facts came to light. Hence the right thing to do now is to withdraw this article altogether from your blog. I am aware of the fact that this will not affect previous shares of your article, but it is the least you can do now.

        • Lasana Liburd

          Robert, I can understand why Amalgamated feel hard done. But the story remains valid because the key is the half-mast flag, regardless of the company responsible.
          The story chronicles the chain of events that began with a photo of the flag over an Amalgamated sign, leads to us calling Amalgamated, then discovering the truth and examining the response from FireOne.
          We did not say your employee was a liar. We said we were skeptical of her story but subsequently found it to be true. And that’s exactly what happened.
          Now the bit about Michael Aboud’s business transactions in Chaguaramas are obviously irrelevant to the story. But I don’t think he would or should mind too much about an extra few paragraphs detailing his bit of business on State land.
          Personally, I think all the Chaguaramas “businessmen” should be happy to have their deal reported about every week in the media. That’s the price of sweetheart deals on State property. If Aboud feels hard-done, then imagine how the rest of us feel!

    • But why do you see it as offensive to the Syrian/Lebanese community and the national population? If you can point that out then I’d surely adjust. And I had no idea who owned FireOne and what race they were until today.
      I don’t know if that is irony or coincidence. Like much else about this issue.
      In any case, the story is not about race. Only about the law.

  16. Hmmmm……lawless society..teaching the young ones….”MONEY DETERMIND IF YOU INTERPRETATION OF ANYTHING IS CORRECT.

  17. Saw this earlier on this morning… was asking the same question…

  18. Read. So Lasana, you actually believe Dillon, eh? I wish I had your level of faith in humans. I have more faith in hummus.

  19. Aneshia Beach what. Madness!!!

  20. The flag is in a compound belonging to the said person am guess they can do it

  21. Wtf, are they crazy?….say, did he really die on World Press Freedom Day?

  22. WDH really going on in this place?!

  23. Isn’t that on fire one compound?

  24. This is not a real country, Lasana Liburd

  25. Smdh. Well I guess the compound is in the US cause that the president also have problems deciphering photographic evidence

  26. Not one thing is coming out of that cause they are financiers !!

  27. Who them think they are??? But then again anything goes in Trinidad and tobago now

  28. So let me get this straight … they raised the flag, it went up the the full length of the pole and when dey walk off it come back dong halfway?

  29. Let police see some yout walking past that half mast flag wearing a camouflage shorts and see if he get a bligh because he washing machine spoil nah!

  30. All the years that flag flying there I never heard it stuck at half mast – not even when Manning died 🙂 🙂 Flag have a mind of his own yes

  31. No investigation, the authorities will take their word for it.
    I wonder if it works the same for a broken tail light?

  32. Of-course nothing will happen Vernal. Like you eh hear that coincidentally the ‘thing’ stuck at half mast on the day that the man was buried.

  33. I fail to see what the big deal is.
    Why can’t they fly the national flag at half mast as a sign of mourning for Sabga?

  34. So who say the ‘thing’ wasn’t working good at the time Lasana? I see you mentioned Fire One took ‘responsibility’, was it them that responded to you?

  35. Please don’t impugn the good name of hummus sir!

  36. “Was the half-raised Trinidad and Tobago flag at Aboud’s company an act of love, a declaration of war or a combination of the two—something like a night out with Machel Montano, for instance?” Lasana boy… I pee mihself oui.

  37. FireOne FX took responsibility for it and said it is the result of a “faulty motor”. I’ve adjusted story.

  38. Ally bad talking the people…allyu eh see the flag now rising on its way up and it is at half mast when the photo was taken.

  39. ALL protocol MUST be observed where the flag is concerned.

  40. No one word from the Protocol gatekeepers.

  41. Saw this earlier on this morning… was asking the same question…

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