Rowley: “I’m trying to find out what went on!” Live Wire looks into PM’s post-Cabinet speech on Moses, Smith and Tobago

If ignorance is really bliss, then the happiest man alive is not Machel Montano anymore.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley—once a “raging bull” against internal PNM corruption,“teacup tosser” for slick MPs and “Rottweiler” to political shenanigans—gave some insight into his new ‘inner Zen’ yesterday, with breezy responses to the stewardship of Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses and Sport Minister Darryl Smith and the alleged woes of the Sister Isle, Tobago.

First up, Rowley touched on the Ministry of Foreign and Affairs and CARICOM’s recent double debacle: initially by voting against an OAS financial waiver for hurricane-ravaged Dominica; and, secondly, in blaming that vote on the unilateral actions of Ambassador Anthony Phillips-Spencer.

Photo: My name is Dennis Moses. People call me Dennis Moses.

As Mr Live Wire revealed—exclusively, at the time—Phillips-Spencer urged his superiors to agree to the waiver, only to eventually vote against it on the insistence of the Ministry.

Once Phillips-Spencer’s vote had provoked outrage throughout the Caribbean, the Foreign Affairs Ministry promptly “burned” its agent by describing his actions as a “misrepresentation” of its policy which was “not aligned” to its views.

Rowley did not apologise to the humiliated Ambassador—in fact, he subtly blamed him for not doing enough to convince his superiors to do the right thing. Instead, he had Phillips-Spencer make room under the bus for an unnamed acting Deputy PS and PS Jennifer Daniels.

“This is the source of the problem—public officials are now […] usurping the authority where that authority lies,” said Rowley.

Suddenly, it turns out that the real problem in the public sector is not incompetent or corrupt ministers; it is rogue Permanent Secretaries. Funny how one’s perspective changes with a move across the floor from Opposition to Government.

“I was never consulted, nor was any submission made to me on this matter,” Rowley quoted Moses as stating in his report. “[…] It is instructive that I was physically present at the Ministry and had extensive discussions with the Permanent Secretary during the same period…”

Presumably, in keeping with Rowley’s narrative, the PS then sent out a press statement on behalf of the Foreign Affairs Ministry—which severely damaged the reputation of an ambassador appointed by the Prime Minister—without consulting her own Minister first.

Photo: Foreign and CARICOM Affairs PS Jennifer Daniel (right) and France Ambassador Serge Lavroff on 28 February 2018.
Daniels has found herself under the same bus she tossed Ambassador Anthony Phillips-Spencer.
(Courtesy Foreign and CARICOM Affairs)

Mr Live Wire is uncertain what Moses is less knowledgable about: foreign affairs, or his own ministry.

Rowley, who also gleefully shared National Security Minister Esmond Dillon’s legal success against US-based fraud allegations, was warming up to his theme by then.

Having used the “popo didn’t know nothin” card to extricate Moses without too much pushback—and, to be fair, there is something in the Foreign Affairs Minister’s vacant gaze that suggests the real possibility of a “Land for Sale” sign somewhere between his ears—the Prime Minister decided to try it on himself.

So when asked about Sport Minister Darryl Smith’s hands-on approach to his staff, which led to a lawsuit and TT$150,000 pay off with a non-disclosure agreement attached, Rowley played dumb.

“I am trying to find out what went on there,” said the Prime Minister. “[…] I don’t even know who was complaining about whom…”

Mr Live Wire was advised multiple times, while growing up, that showing monkey face to siblings was dangerous business.

“Your face will stay jus’ so one of these days!”

If the same principle applies to playing ‘chupid’, Rowley was walking on the wild side and could potentially transform permanently into either Fuad Khan, Fitzgerald Hinds or Kunti Deopersad at any minute.

Photo: Ah wasn’t kidnapped in truth, ah was playing golf in Tobago…
Ah mean I was seconded by the State to conduct quantitative research on the impact of ferry difficulties to the Magdalena Resort golf course.

Rowley hadn’t heard about Smith’s goings-ons? Despite the fact that Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and his mini-me Stuart Young—who also happens to be a Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister—discussed it in Parliament a full week ago?

So you mean to say Rowley only cared about what Ministries were spending on and Ministers were salivating over while he was Opposition Leader? And the man who, three years ago, could describe every pillow in Tanty Kamla’s Phillipine house, didn’t notice that “Heavy D” had turned State property into Room 201 in the middle of town?

It is worth noting that Rowley’s only Ministry—like his immediate predecessor, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, but unlike every other previous T&T Prime Minister—is that of Office of the Prime Minister.

Which, one assumes, would involve some specialist ‘Prime Minister-ing’ on a daily basis, such as knowing what the hell is going on in his Cabinet and responding promptly.

The “About Us” on the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Facebook page says it is “responsible for coordinating Trinidad and Tobago’s relations with foreign governments, as well as regional and international organisations.”

The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs describes its mission as “to coordinate and facilitate the delivery of quality development services with special emphasis on the enhancement of youth, and sport for recreation and industry.”

Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (right) makes a pass at Minister of Public Utilities Fitzgerald Hinds at the Hasely Crawford Stadium training ground on 20 January 2017.
Hinds did not press charges.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

And the Office of the Prime Minister? It’s About Us has only a detailed biography of Rowley and a request to follow it on Twitter and Instagram.

‘The buck stops with me’ was Rowley’s mantra about leadership while in Opposition.

Looks like a buck doesn’t get very far anymore; must be because of inflation.

“There is no Minister in the Government that I do not have confidence in,” said Rowley, when asked whether he still saw value in his over-sized and apparently under-sexed Sport Minister.

By all accounts, Rowley uttered the memorable line without choking, bursting out into laughter or silently pointing to a handwritten note with the words “Help Me!”

“I first heard about [the furore surrounding Smith last] Wednesday,” Rowley continued. “I am going to find out.”

News that his Attorney General might be complicit in the cover-up of sexual misconduct by his Sport Minister, all paid for with taxpayers’ dollars, was not high on the Prime Minister’s list of priorities?

So what, pray tell, was he up to?

Well, Rowley said he was checking into the health of Tobago—in between rounds of golf at the Government-owned Magdalena Grand resort.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley shows off his skills on the golf course.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Rowley said he made it his business to enquire about the occupancy rate there and was told that it was over 50 percent for Easter and 68 percent on Easter Sunday.

“[…] But yet I am hearing on the news by persons who appoint themselves spokespersons for Tobago that Tobago has a 30 per cent occupancy because things are so bad,” he said

It was like asking one ‘brethren’ if he beats his wife and, on hearing ‘no’, exclaiming that domestic violence was grossly exaggerated.

Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) president Chris James, who assured the Trinidad Express that his own surveys go well beyond the Magdalena Grand, said hotel occupancy rates on the island were usually 100 percent for Easter.

“The average occupancy achieved for Easter was 43 per cent,” said James. “The larger hotels did better—a few with 60 per cent plus… The smaller hotels and guest houses did not do as well, some achieving 30 per cent…

“In past years, Tobago would [have] been 100 per cent full for Easter and guests would have stayed for longer periods.”

The main problem, of course, is the Government’s failure to service the sea-bridge. Which wasn’t really the Government’s failure, if you listened to the Prime Minister, but sheer bad luck, misfortune and everything short of an act of God.

“I don’t need to remind anyone what happened to the Ocean Flower,” said Rowley.

Photo: Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan.
(Copyright News.Gov.TT)

So he didn’t remind reporters. And they didn’t ask why Minister of Works and Transport, Rohan “Corbeaux Star” Sinanan, was still here but the ferry was not.

It was hard to blame them. Lobbing questions at Rowley was like tossing rings at a block in a dodgy stall at your child’s May Fiesta. No matter how you tried for the prize, the rings just seemed too small to go around the damn block.

And, these days, Rowley looks like the biggest block in Government.

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About 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. I don’t know I was playing golf ask me how hole ah pot

  2. Sumdath no obscene language, no racist barbs and no personal attacks on other posters. You good to go after that.

  3. I want to believe you know the answer to that already. And do bear those rules in mind and all will be well.

    • That’s always a good question. And a tough one. But all I’d say is I believe in calling a spade, a spade. No matter who is in charge.
      I’m not telling anyone who to vote for. We should be able to vote PNM or UNC and then criticise them and call them to account regardless.

  4. They have brain to thief tax payers money

  5. Is ALL CAPS your LAW or a CYBER LAW?

  6. You must live an interesting life if those rules seem so bizarre to you. If you can somehow bring yourself to restrain from all caps, obscenity and racism while doing it then “yes” you can criticize politicians.

  7. WE could CRITISISE politicians?

  8. Could u tell us all the RULES.

  9. Please don’t use all caps. One of our rules. ?

  10. Mr Rowley,it wouldn’t surprise me in d least if d pnm voters wake up d day after they lose d upcoming election and say those same words!!

  11. These politicians need a brain see what going on in their heads. I don’t even know if that is possible. But no harm in trying

  12. Poor journalism : poor reporting: poor vision..wires crossed

  13. How much money was paid to get my private information? All you brilliant people..tell me.

  14. Ye boy you play don’t bother the people and killing thieving and every thing you know every body like it so

  15. He spend d weekend playing golf or he spend trying to find out wha happen?

  16. Won’t be surprised if Rowley’s wife does a ‘Popsey’ on him.

  17. Until we as citizens forget party politics (choosing sides) and DEMAND accountability and transparency by our ELECTED officers , we will continue the INSANITY (doing the same things over and over and getting the same results,) We need to stop being passive and turnign a blind eye to the many ills in this country, ‘Convenient amnesia seems to be contagious. as we let “things” slide because “its my party” NONSENSE, POLITICIANS know that and use it as tool to keep the citizens in stupor. Wake UP people and demand better, We have the POWER, not politicians, since we elect them (at times blindly based on racist overtones,which is frightening at times). Ignorance and lack of common sense is no longer an excuse and NO. having an education and certification (DEGREES) is certainly not the answer. Simple Common sense which my daddy taught me ain’t so common) integrity and ethics (which are sorely lacking in T&T) and the acknowledgement of a higher power are the elements and principles needed to return this country from its downward spiral.I continue to pray for my Blessed country. We can do this people, STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT and awake from your slumber and passivity.

  18. Apparently if taxpayers money is used to settle a sexual allegation,or if you don’t attend a preliminary meeting ,don’t bother to find out what the vote was going to be,but vote nonetheless that is acceptable to some.supporters of this useless govt would find a way to justify everything,until it begin to affect them

  19. The PM saying simply. We stuck with him for the nxt 3 yrs. And we hah take the crap till his time is up.

  20. Those who CAN see will be called PNM when UNC in power and UNC when PNM in power. Those who CANNOT see are the ones who call others by name? Lasana Liburd is not blind!!

  21. Does anyone know what’s going on???

  22. Poor journalism abounds in T&T

  23. Lasana, remember when you and I had that chat in 2015 about there being really no way to compare which government is “less worse”?

    It’s like choosing between a person who slaps you and another one who kicks you.

    There is no “less worse”. The route maybe different but you end up in the same dark place.

  24. Contrary to you Lasana , Im NO PNM, absolutely not, but I’m a political realist & I challenge anyone to “summarize & analyse Lasana “Political satires”& honestly tell me “If he say everything against one party & absolutely nuttn against the other party. What say U, anyone.

  25. boy y u play golf wth Rowley?ago deal with u

  26. Lasana.U r moving true to form with blinkers,racing fast straight ahead.Your intent is definately on target :2020 General Election but definately NOT on a PNM ticket. Oops, I wonder which party,hmmmm

  27. What breazy response the honourable pm went into lenghty detail explaining both situation poor work 868

  28. I know the PS personally, she’s not a pushover and she goes by the book. I have seen her work and she doesn’t compromise herself

  29. LMAO @ hands-on approach…ah must say though that opposition leader Keith Rowley is yet to transform into the PM Rowley most of the country was expecting he’d be

  30. Big Friday yuh does have me steupsing eh Lasana lol

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