President Richards’ address to the nation

May 30, 2009
Trinidad and Tobago News Blog

The address to the nation given by President George Maxwell Richards last night.

President Professor George Maxwell RichardsFellow citizens

It appears that the statement that I made on 15th May, 2009, has been misunderstood. Let me emphasise, therefore, that any lack of clarity was unintentional. It is being said that I did not offer an apology to the nation. May I say that my expression of regret was intended to convey just that – an apology. I have noted that the word “regret” is “used in polite formulas to express apology or sadness”, but if it would give comfort to those who have a different interpretation of the word, I say now that I apologise.

The reiteration, by me, of concerns as conveyed in questions, which did not originate with me but which were raised in the media, by the public, acknowledged the questions raised, but was not intended to absolve me from responsibility or to cast blame.

On the matter of confirmation of appointments, the Integrity in Public Life Act 2000 in Part II, Section 4 (4) is clear, that is to say, that the President appoints, after consulting both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. After consultation, the President may decide that his choices stand or he may choose to take a different course, based on the consultation, or for any other reason. Confirming an invitation to serve does not mean that someone else was party to the confirmation or directed it.

I maintain that there never was and there is no constitutional crisis based on the vacancies on the Integrity Commission or because of my absence from Trinidad and Tobago. The absence from the country of the President does not in itself create a constitutional crisis, as provision is made, in Chapter 3, Section 27 (1) of the Constitution, for the duties of President to be carried out in his absence by the President of the Senate, as has happened in the past.

In the face of the resignation of Justice Hosein and subsequently those of Mr Mc Farlane and Father Charles, there have been calls for me to explain what could have led to those resignations and therefore, to reveal what might or might not have been said between myself and those nominees, prior to their appointment.

By the demands being made for answers and explanations, I am being required, in effect, to enter into debate regarding statements made by persons who were invited to become members of the Integrity Commission, in order, perhaps, to establish, inter alia, the veracity of what has been said by them.

Put another way, I am being encouraged, by these demands, to put up a defence, which is the very interpretation of my statement that has provoked ire. May I say that, as President, I will not put in the public domain the conversations, of a confidential nature, that I held with anyone concerning the invitations to serve. That, in my view, is unseemly and not befitting the Office.

I wish to make it abundantly clear that resignation from office holds no terror for me. The central consideration in any step that I take in this matter must be the welfare of the country. Resignation gives no guarantee of that and I will not allow the situation to be so manipulated as to result in yielding to pressure fuelled by lack of deep consideration of all the issues pertinent to resignation.

I have already apologised for error of judgment. To err is not to act disreputably. I have noted and listened carefully to the comments expressed by members of the public and have given the matter due consideration. I do not share the opinion held by some that I have brought the office of President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago into disrepute and accordingly, see no reason to resign or to engage in further debate on the matter.

I wish to thank the many individuals who have written or spoken in measured support of me. It is my hope that we, as a nation, will move on.

The matters surrounding the Integrity Commission, which have occasioned negative fallout, have given us the opportunity to see that democracy is alive in Trinidad and Tobago. This should give pause for serious thought and reinforce our determination to guard it and to improve on it.

Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen. Good night and may God bless Trinidad and Tobago.

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13 thoughts on “President Richards’ address to the nation”


    No reason to resign
    President George Maxwell Richards says he will not yield to public pressure to resign as Head of State, following the Integrity Commission fiasco. In an address to the nation last night, Richards said he wanted to make it abundantly clear that “resignation from office holds no terror for me.” He said the central consideration in any step that he took in this matter “must be for the welfare the country.”

    President: No reason to resign
    President George Maxwell Richards is not explaining. He is not resigning. But he is sorry “for an error of judgment”. And he thinks that it is time the country moves on.

    Max: I’ll not yield to pressure

    ‘Confidential conversations’
    Pres refuses to divulge details on former Integrity Commission members

    Panday: Max hiding behind protocol

  2. Mr. President, thank you for clearing the air and living up to your responsibilities. Your office requires a steady hand at the wheel, not an uninformed hand tacking in every breeze stirred up by the forces of discontent, who can never be satisfied, because discontent is evil itself.

    I am glad you are staying in place. We need steady hands above the fray.God bless you. God Bless our nation of many varied races. May we continue to seek the common loe that can bind and make us one.

  3. President Richards is a damn fool occupying a position for which he has plainly shown he isn’t suited!!!

    His continued presence there is an INSULT to the nation of T&T.

  4. Bacon
    Have you considered that the President does not have the staff which is required to assist him in vetting the candidates chosen to serve on the Integrity Commission?
    T&T is relatively new nation which is learning by trial and error.Mistakes will be made, not only by the President but by all elected and appointed officials, including the previous and present Prime Ministers. Hopefully in time adjustments and changes will be made to the Constitution to satisfy all.
    Like you, I initially ranted that the President should resign, but upon reconsideration, I believe that his resignation would serve no useful purpose.

  5. Daly on President: I am not impressed
    MARTIN Daly SC, the President of the Law Association, yesterday said President George Maxwell Richards has made things worse by addressing the nation as he did on Friday night, saying the President appears to resent accountability.

    …Richards must resign, says Daly

    Preserving and defending the Constitution and the law
    Mr President, when an engineer constructs a bridge and it collapses the confidence between user and engineer also collapses…Mr President, the bridge has collapsed and the torrent rages.

    COP’s Ramadhar: It’s maximum arrogance
    “Maximum arrogance!” That’s how Congress of the People (COP) deputy political leader Prakash Ramadhar describes President George Maxwell Richards’ address to the nation on Friday.

    Panday: Max must go
    OPPOSITION Leader Basdeo Panday yesterday repeated his call for the resignation of President George Maxwell Richards whose televised speech on Friday night left Panday unimpressed.

    Kamla: Another Manning agent
    Based on Friday night’s address by President George Maxwell Richards, it seems the highest institution of the land is under the control of Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

    Panday: Take Pres before tribunal

  6. —The ISSUE here is President Richards and NOT ‘Panday’ or ‘Gladys Gaffor.’
    Throw that question out to your voting-illiterate, PNM supporters!

    —So ‘his resignstion would serve no useful purpose?’
    Did your ‘reconsideration’ take into account more competent, relaible people in T&T who would be BETTER-SUITED than Richards for the Presidental position? If it did, are you then implying/saying that T&T has NO ONE better to replace Richards?

  7. How many years did it take the president to realise that he had no resources to carry out the requirements made on his office and himself by the Integrity Bill?

    Let this president without integrity cease his rambling nonsense and ask his family and friends to help him on his way so that he is not removed and evicted.

  8. Bacon
    I am saying that focussing on the President’s resignation is not really the issue here, but rather attention should be focussed on the laws and processes in place which allowed this gross error to occur.These are all growing pains of a relatively new republic.

  9. Dear Mr. President,

    For me, you have not cleared the air. I don’t think you should resign for the reasons the media seems to have listed. I think you should resign because you, the Head of State of this nation, seem, quite irresponsibly, to believe something that no civilized bank or country could and successfully run its affairs: that the only account required for errors of the kind you made is encapsulated in the tired cliché: “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

  10. Mr.President, please resign, u were put there by the PNM…on another note…what the hell do you do Mr.President?….just what is your effective functions?

  11. I agree with President Richards. Shut up and move on. He has now set the precedent for “mistakes” to be made and no explanation given, just a bland apology. I love this man to death. Soon we will see others following suit.

  12. Trini said that ” President Richards… has now set the precedent for mistakes to be made and no explanation given.” What folly, and obviously short memory we have concerning affairs that pertain to this wonderful nation.
    Continue to get worked up over this pointless exercise , but yet would not demand a public hearing and Commission of enquiry from either of the last two governments over the Backer affiar folks.

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