During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and with Trinidad and Tobago recording an average of 23 deaths a day, 100 persons headed to west Trinidad for a boat lime—allegedly put on by Adrian Scoon, the son of Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon.
According to one advert for the party: ‘[…] If you’ve been to anything I’ve done during the pandemic, you know how it is I provide everything—you just have to show up’.
Forget CMO Dr Roshan Parasram, Mr Live Wire thinks Scoon should be on the head table for the next Ministry of Health press conference to explain ‘anything I’ve done during the pandemic’.
Gentleman, you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.
As it turned out, police showed up to the ‘Seaside Brunch Party’ too and things went a bit left after that, with Scoon appearing to shoehorning both Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh in his game of ‘coronavirus roulette’.
(Scene: An obscure character in an otherwise empty dimly-let room gestures to Mr Live Wire. There are three plastic cups on the table in front of him.)
Mystery man: Step right up, step right up. Look lively, ladies and gentlemen. Greatness waits for no man! We are all gathered here to witness something truly amazing, an inimitable artifice—undoubtedly without precedent.
Mr Live Wire (looks over his shoulder): It’s only me here.
Mystery man: Is it?
Live Wire: Is it what?
Mystery man: Not what, my good man. The question is ‘who’.
Live Wire (confused): What? I mean who? Wait… what? Did I fall asleep while I was trying to write about…
Mystery Man: All in good time, my inquisitive friend. All in good time. (Pauses, for dramatic effect.)
First, the game. We put 100 persons on an anchored pleasure boat on Boxing Day. This is, my good friend, the middle of the most ravenous period of the Covid-19 pandemic—at the time those lovelies climbed on board, there were already 580 virus-related deaths in this month alone…
Live Wire (alarmed): Why would you do that?!
Mystery Man: My good sir, there is no game without risks. (Pause.) Now our beautiful guests pay $450 each to play…
Live Wire (interrupts): What?! They pay to be part of an experiment that risks their own lives?! It’s not supposed to be the opposite way around?!
Mystery Man: Don’t hate the playa, my good man, hate the game. Lions don’t light candles for dead sheep. (Pause.) So as I was saying, we have 100 people…
Live Wire (interjects again): Who so dotish to leave their house on Boxing Day with people dropping like flies, to pay you to…
Mystery Man (interrupts): Look, can I get to just explain the blasted game?! Eh?! Yuh does talk so much when yuh go cinema too? Allyuh so is to stay home and watch Netflix by allyuh self yuh know.
Live Wire: Sorry sir. I didn’t mean any offence.
Mystery Man (clears throat and regains his composure): Apology accepted, my good sir. These are indeed stressful times for us all. And that is precisely why we created this fun game for the lovely people of Trinidad and Tobago…
Live Wire: Okay.
Mystery Man: So 100 persons are on board the Ocean Pelican for a ‘Seaside Brunch Party’. They are having a great time. Arguably too great a time—although that might be sub judice. By the time the police show up, they interpret the gathering as a full blown fete.
Live Wire: Jesus!
Mystery Man: According to the public health ordinance, the operator of the vessel and his lovely volunteers look to have violated a good half-dozen laws, including: being found at a large body of water for recreational purposes, operating a party boat, holding a public party.
(Mystery Man takes out a piece of paper and writes the words: ‘Scoon, greedy, reckless f**k’. He rolls the paper into a ball and places it under one of three plastic cups. With a wide grin, he dramatically shuffles the cups.)
Mystery Man (looks straight into Mr Live Wire’s eyes): One cup represents Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, the other is Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, and the third is Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. (Pause.) So tell me, Mr Live Wire, which cup is covering the piece of paper? Whose fault is it?
Live Wire: Isn’t it just Scoon’s fault? Shouldn’t there be a cup with his name?
Mystery Man: Well, when police showed up, the operators allegedly insisted F*ris said they had not broken any law because it was actually a restaurant—and therefore a safe zone. And F*ris is the man who created the law in the first place.
Live Wire: So it was a boat restaurant? In the water?
Mystery Man: Correct.
Live Wire: But recreational boats are outlawed now?
Mystery Man: You’re smarter than you look.
Live Wire: Well, then the paper has to be under the cup marked F*ris.
(Mystery Man smiles and lifts the ‘F*ris fore-cup’. It is empty.)
Live Wire (frowns): But you said they told police that F*ris gave them the go-ahead?
Mystery Man: They did indeed. But in a subsequent statement, F*ris said ‘Mr Adrian Scoon who is very well known to the AG, called many weeks ago to ask a general question about the Public Health Regulations and party boats and the AG specifically informed him to put his enquires to the Minister of Health and/or Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts’ and he ‘gave NO legal advice to Mr Scoon whatsoever’.
Live Wire (pauses): Well, then it is Deyalsingh’s fault.
(Mystery Man smiles and lifts ‘Deyalsingh fore-cup’. It is also empty.)
Live Wire (shifts his head sideways): What the hell? I don’t understand.
Mystery Man: Scoon’s letter to Deyalsingh read:
‘We at Ocean Pelican are writing to inform you that we have attained our restaurant and bar license and wish to convert our vessel into a floating restaurant and more importantly as a safe zone. On advice from the honourable AG Faris Al Wari (sic) we ensure you that our vessel will remain docked, and will not sail so as to adhere to the public health ordinance regulations.
‘We emphasise that we plan on observing all protocols that constitute a safe zone during this period. Should you require any further information, please feel free to contact the undersigned…’
Scoon didn’t ask Deyalsingh one damn thing. That letter was written to the Minister of Health on the day of the party. He was informing him that he had the go-ahead from F*ris.
Live Wire: He could do that?
Mystery Man: Well, Deyalsingh doesn’t determine what is or isn’t a ‘safe zone’. That is Faris’ job.
Live Wire: So then it has to be ‘F*ris fore-cup’.
Mystery Man (lifts ‘F*ris fore-cup’, which is still empty): The public health ordinance describes ‘vessel’ as ‘any ship, boat, barge, lighter or raft and any other description of craft, whether used in navigation or not, but does not include government vessels’.
It specifically rules out any potential loophole as to whether the vessel remains docked.
Live Wire (scratches his chin): Hmmm…
Mystery Man: […] But there is a caveat. It says ‘[…] except where authorised by the Minister’.
Live Wire: So then it is Deyalsingh’s fault?
Mystery Man: Two days before the boat party, the Ministry of Health put out an advert that asked citizens to ‘celebrate responsibly with your household bubble… keep the festivities at home this year’. You really feel on Boxing Day, he dotish enough to authorise a same-day request for a boat party, so young Scoon could charge citizens to play ‘Covid roulette’?
Live Wire (exasperated): Well then, it must be Rowley f**k up!
Mystery Man: Please sir! I’d expect you to watch your language in here! You feel this is the damn Senate?!
Live Wire: Sorry. I mean the only other cup is that one. (Points to ‘Rowley fore-cup’.) So that has to be where the blame lies.
(Mystery Man lifts the ‘Rowley fore-cup’ with a flourish. It is also empty.)
Live Wire: Hold up! That doesn’t make any sense…
Mystery Man: And why is that?
Live Wire: Well, someone must be to blame and ent the Prime Minister always said ‘the buck stops with me’?
Mystery Man: Yes, the buck always stops with him. Just not the blame.
Live Wire: Yes, but is Rowley who appointed F*ris. And this isn’t even the first time he advised well-heeled people about how they could violate the spirit of the very law he passed. What about Chandler?! What about F*ris breaking the Covid laws himself on national tv?
I don’t even think they have a vaccine for F*ris at this stage. You just have to have to close the borders of Parliament to him and hope for the best.
Mystery Man: So what you’re saying is you want the Prime Minister to interfere in the running of a body as sacred as that of the Office of Attorney General?
Live Wire (pauses): Well, no. But ultimately if he isn’t doing his job then he should replace him.
Mystery Man: But he has to get the chance to fail too right?
Live Wire: How many mistakes we could handle in a pandemic?! People dying yuh know?!
Mystery Man: You will blame Rowley for that too? Since when you parroting Spalk? The Prime Minister has a right to expect his ministers to do their jobs. You want a dictatorship? You want a big boss to micro-manage everything and ministers with no responsibility for their ministries?
Live Wire (sighs): Okay, okay. So where the paper then? Who’s to blame?
Mystery Man: Nobody.
Live Wire: What?
Mystery Man: Let me read from the Attorney General’s ‘clarification’ today: ‘This morning Mr Scoon offered his apology to the AG, specifically acknowledged that no legal advice was given by the AG and stated that he regretted the inconvenience caused.’
So that’s that.
Live Wire: That’s what?
Mystery Man: Scoon regrets the ‘inconvenience’ and apologised to the AG. Case closed. Closed. Closed…
(Epilogue: Mr Live Wire wakes up with a start. What just happened? Did he just dream about the son of a government minister playing loose with the lives of citizens to make a fast buck—while other ministers stood by and watched, if not helped put on the event?
Stay tuned for the next episode of: ‘Trinidad and Tobago definitely can’t be a real place if F*ris is Attorney General’…)
Aka: When a boat becomes a legal, moral and ethical dilemma!