Statement By His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona O.R.T.T., S.C.
President Of The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago
On The Passing Of
Professor George Maxwell Richards T.C.,C.M.T.T.,Ph.D.,
Fourth President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Our Nation has been thrust into national mourning by the passing of our fourth President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Professor George Maxwell Richards T.C., C.M.T.T., Ph.D.  At the centre of Professor Richards’ life was a constant search for and attainment of excellence.  In the fields of academia and education, Professor Richards displayed great intellectual prowess earning with distinction undergraduate and Masters Degrees at the University of Manchester and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge.

His life was a diverse one, working in the burgeoning oil fields in Deep South Trinidad, specifically Point Fortin and then , onto a well-earned and respected acclamation as Principal of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine (UWI) in 1985. Professor Richards was well regarded as an engineer and mentor who guided and assisted many students, who, now in their professional lives, are highly regarded in the field of engineering.  By his astute and visionary leadership, as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, he raised the bar, creating a Faculty of Engineering concomitant with international benchmark standards.  His contribution and stewardship ensured that the Chemical Engineering Programme placed the required heavy emphasis on process and manufacturing industries which continue to benefit us as a Nation and the wider Caribbean. Professor Richards’ life and legacy represent a strong signal and an exemplary testament of social mobility and what is achievable through hard work, sacrifice, service and meritocracy.

As Principal of UWI and as a true cultural connoisseur with effusive joie de vivre, Professor Richards had a core vision of a progressive and transformational sustainability that recognised the need to move away from that debilitating dependency syndrome sometimes associated with Caribbean governance.  In adherence to this, he started the annual UWI All-Inclusive Endowment Fund Fete, an excellent innovation that created a source of funding to support needy and deserving students through bursaries and thus, assisted hundreds of students to remain at University and complete their Degrees.  We are forever indebted to him for helping those UWI students realise their dreams and aspirations.

During his tenure as President (2003-2013), Professor Richards, like all in our society, had great, well-merited concerns with respect to institutions of governance, such as the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, in their proper and just execution of their mandate to the people of this Republic.  In this regard and much to his credit, then  President Richards encapsulated those concerns in his Address at the Ceremonial Opening of the Third Session of our Tenth Parliament, on the 11 July 2012, “Decisions taken in this Parliament must be such as to ensure even-handedness and transparency in policies that affect the welfare of all our citizens. There must be equality of opportunity and merit must count above every other considerations.  We need to be more conscious of the provisions of our Constitution.  We should take the trouble to inform ourselves of what is in fact a contract between the people of this Nation and our leaders.  It is a contract that goes beyond the contemporary high points of election drama that takes place from time to time.”

If, as a Nation, we wish to be true to the tenets of our Constitution and to our Democracy which we hold dear, now is as good a time as any, to reflect and embrace those words, ideas and sentiments expressed by our esteemed late fourth President. The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago remains grateful for the exemplary public service of our fourth President Professor George Maxwell Richards T.C., C.M.T.T., Ph.D.

On behalf of all of us at the Office of the President, my wife Reema and my children Christian and Anura, we extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to his dear wife, Dr. Jean Ramjohn-Richards, children Maxine and Mark and the entire family circle at this very difficult time.  May Almighty God grant them solace and calm and may his soul rest in eternal peace.