The big story today is, yet again, Marlene McDonald, the Port of Spain South MP who was once fired between the swearing-in ceremony and her first day of work—after taking Cedric ‘Gangsta Smurf’ Burke into President’s House.
Since then, Burkie’s career soared as he became Trinidad and Tobago’s most beloved meme after Lord Eddard Stark and a pre-pubescent Cardi B. And McDonald? Well, Dr Keith Rowley’s decision to stick her in the obscure Ministry of Public Administration had proven to be as clever as hiding money from your slow nephews in a dictionary.
That was until this morning when the TTPS arrested her at 4am as part of a corruption investigation.
Conveniently, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith was out of the country at the time. Presumably the friends whose wedding he attended during the raid on Buju Banton were unwilling to renew their vows for the purpose of giving him another alibi.
Or maybe Griffith didn’t want to number among the lawmen who will forever remember what Marlene looks like in Victoria’s Secret.
But given that your choice of political party is often crudely described as a toss-up between mooks and crooks, how are PNM supporters coping with news that corruption is not restricted to the previous regime?
Mr Live Wire is outside Balisier House in St Clair to get a word from party faithful on the latest development:
Live Wire: Good day, miss. I’m from Live Wire News and I would like to ask for your thoughts on the arrest of MP and Cabinet member Marlene McDonald.
Interviewee 1: The UNC too tief. That is why I will always vote for the PNM!
Live Wire: Sorry ma’am but Marlene is a PNM MP.
Interviewee 1: Doh try that! It must be a fake profile! Fake news!
Live Wire: Ahmm. Thanks for your time ma’am.
(Live Wire decides to try again.)
Live Wire: Good day, sir. Can I ask for your thoughts about the arrest of Marlene McDonald and the possible implications for the party?
Interviewee 2: You’re asking me if you can ask me?
Live Wire: Excuse?
Interviewee 2: Excuse what? You pass wind? You think because I’m old and have cataract that I can’t see what you’re up to? Eh?! Come to me talking all proper with your PNM education to try and fight down the blasted party that feed and clothe you before your mother even realise she missed her damn period!
Live Wire: Ahmmm. Sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to offend. I’m not from any political party. I am from Live Wire News and I just hoped to get your opinion on Marlene’s arrest…
Interviewee 2: ‘Marlene’?! Marlene is your friend?! You play blasted pitch with Marlene?! Eh?! Marlene mother invite you to drink Kool-aid in her house and tell you how she make Marlene?!
Live Wire: Sorry, sir. I…
Interviewee 2: I trust in the wisdom of my Political Leader to do the right thing. Write that!
Live Wire: Thank you, sir. But what is the right decision?
Interviewee 2: You asking me? Or you asking me if you could ask me?
Live Wire: Sorry?
Interviewee 2: Steups. You know blasted English?! You now come off the boat from Caracas?! Listen, if there is any merit to the accusations, then my Political Leader will have to fire her, of course. But he is a man of integrity and I have no doubt that he will do the right thing.
Live Wire: Like he did before?
Interviewee 2: Exactly.
Live Wire: But then he rehired her.
Interviewee 2: Everyone deserves a second chance!
Live Wire: But then he fired her again for dodgy behaviour and rehired her a second time…
Interviewee 2: So what’s your blasted point? The good book always tell me not to throw my pearls before swine. Go from here and leave me alone. Go and ask the UNC why Roodal Moonilal still dey!
(Live Wire retreats quickly.)
Live Wire: Ma’am, I’m from Live Wire News and I want to ask your thoughts on the arrest of Marlene McDonald.
Interviewee 3: No, no, no. I never comment on an ongoing police investigation.
Live Wire: But doesn’t Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley often speak on ongoing investigations or hints of wrongdoing by the Opposition party?
Interviewee 3: That’s different.
Live Wire: How?
Interviewee 3: I would like to explain but the whole thing is sub judice.
Live Wire: What? No it isn’t…
Interviewee 3: Steups. Next thing I get a lawsuit just for talking to you. (Crosses the street in a hurry.)
(Mr Live Wire spots a PNM councillor.)
Live Wire: Excuse, sir? Councillor?! Can I have a word with you about the arrest of Marlene McDonald.
Interviewee 4: Yes of course. I will have plenty to say on this matter imminently—of that I assure you, My Distinguished.
Live Wire: OK. Thank you. Well can you tell me something right now?
Interviewee 4: Now? No, no, no. It behooves me to be well informed so as to speak with a holistic grasp of the full intricacies at play. There are things being said, but first one must ascertain the veracity of these statements.
Live Wire: Well can you just say what you know at this moment?
Interviewee 4: Of course. Listen, I am an independent thinker and I am part of a party that treasures independent thinkers. You won’t find any of that ‘politics has a morality of its own’ nonsense here. Of that I assure you, my good sir. What you will find is that, unlike certain rabble rousers, I certainly will not articulate in the public domain unless it is from a point of knowledge. Nobody can put a muzzle on me and nobody in this party will even countenance such a thing. It is a matter of timing. So when the time is right, I promise you will be the first person I will call.
Live Wire: OK, sir. Fair enough. And when do you think the time will be right to give me your independent opinion?
Interviewee 4: Right after Rowley talk.
Interviewee 5: You asking me about Marlene right?
Live Wire: Yeah.
Interviewee 5: I can tell you is one of dem news people. Let me tell you now; the whole thing is a set-up.
Live Wire: Set up by who?
Interviewee 5: Who you think?
Live Wire: Me? I don’t know. You brought it up.
Interviewee 5: What day is it?
Live Wire: Ahmm. August 8.
Interviewee 5: Right. And what year is it?
Live Wire: 2019.
Interviewee 5: So take away 1 from 9 and what you get?
Live Wire: 8.
Interviewee 5: Well you have sense. So you tell me.
Live Wire: Ahmmm… What?
Interviewee 5: Everybody knows Marlene is a big girl, right? And dais nothing. I like that. Bone is for dog and meat is for man. Scene? But you ent see they hold Marlene on the ate of the ate of the ate. You ent see that? Is everything so I have to read and spell for you?
(A passer-by chimes in.)
Interviewee 6: Allyuh could say what allyuh want. But don’t touch Marlene and don’t touch the CJ!
Live Wire: What…? What does Marlene have to do with the CJ?
Interviewee 6: Allyuh so don’t like to see black people strive. Is only fight down.
Live Wire: But if the allegations are true, won’t the victims also be black people?
Interviewee 6: Allyuh could say what allyuh want. Marlene like dem black box in the plane. Dey ent have nothing on she. If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit… Great is the PNM!
Live Wire: Ahmm…
Interviewee 6: Allyuh put it just how I say it eh! Don’t play allyuh get some man to talk over the thing and pretend is me; and have me sounding like blasted Kia?!
Live Wire: No ma’am…
(Live Wire scurries away. He decides to try for one last interview.)
Live Wire: Good evening, ma’am. This is Live Wire News. Can you tell us your thoughts on the arrest of Marlene McDonald?
Interviewee 7: Yes, I know who you are. To be honest, I warned the Prime Minister that this would happen. They should have never brought her back. But sometimes you have to burn to learn.
Live Wire: So you’re saying that Marlene is a liability to the party?
Interviewee 7: Of course. There are plenty bright and honest people inside the PNM who could do a great job given the chance. It is sad that you always seeing the same black faces being recycled. Marlene, Cox, Hinds, Shamfa, Camille… You would swear Rowley only knows about five black people and forced to keep finding places to put them!
Live Wire: Ahmm. OK. So why was she allowed to remain in Cabinet when there was also a chance that her presence would embarrass the PNM in this way?
Interviewee 7: Rowley is the boss so it is his call to make and we have to support the Prime Minister. That is just how a disciplined organisation operates.
Live Wire: So you’re questioning his judgment?
Interviewee 7: Nobody is perfect.
Live Wire: Well does this shake your faith in politics?
Interviewee 7: If there are no perfect people, how can you find a perfect prime minister?
Live Wire: Well… That is true. But if you have doubts about the Prime Minister’s judgment; and if he is failing to act on the same core issues that he accuses the Opposition of: then isn’t that a fatal flaw?
Interviewee 7: Maybe. But who we go put? Imbert? Not even his mother love he. Stuart? To pull out his bullhorn to talk down to poor people? Sinanan? Show me an honest contractor and I’ll show you a straight corner. Rowley is the best we have right now, so we have to make do.
Live Wire: Ma’am, you’re clearly level-headed, logic-driven and perceptive. If you’re a member of the ruling party, then why don’t you use your intelligence and proximity to the power-base to address the rot within the PNM and…
(Interviewee’s cell phone rings.)
Interviewee 7: Hold up for a second, let me take this. (Talks Into phone.) Yes? Uh hmmm. It ready? Okay. (Puts away phone.)
Live Wire: Sorry. I was saying…
Interviewee 7: Sorry dahlin, I have an HDC house to go and sign for. Good luck with your interview. And keep up the good work!
Live Wire: Ahmm… That concludes our man on the street at Balisier House. This is Mr Live Wire saying have a good evening. And, of course, Trinidad is a paradise.