A President who Understands Her Role

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Alicia Chamely
By Alicia Chamely

EVERY five years we collectively groan at the charade that is the process of nominating and appointing a new President.

Both sides bicker, object, make a whole big show over nothing and at the end we get a President, whose role many of us are completely confused over.

The President’s role is (and I quote from the official website of the Office of the President of Trinidad and Tobago), “is quasi-ceremonial in nature.”

The OPTT gives a random list of presidential duties, not much of which is actually controlled by the president. All appointments etc are done with the “advice” of the prime minister who calls the shots and the president signs a paper, shakes some hands and then retreats to his or her taxpayer-funded life.

Side Note: That is unless your name is Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson, and you straight up refuse to follow the prime minister’s orders to appoint some senators, sending Parliament into a tailspin, cause you a gangsta like that. Since his time, no president has ever defied prime ministerial orders and we got Section 34…

Don’t get me wrong, I am not diminishing the role of the president, having to deal with all the fluffy stuff must be absolutely exhausting, which probably explains where the past head of state was for the last five years…


Over the past five years, our former president was less an Iron Lady and more a Galvanize Gyal. She came in guns-a-blazing and fizzled out fast. She made a fuss over ceremonial delicacies and gave some “inspirational” speeches, but otherwise didn’t provide us with much.

On Monday we swore in our new President, Christine Kangaloo. Unlike our previous president, it’s safe to say President Kangaloo has paid her dues in the world of politics. She has served as an opposition senator, minister in the office of the prime minister, minister of legal affairs, minister of science, technology and tertiary education. She is also the only person to have served as president and vice president of the senate.


President Kangaloo makes people (me, I’m people) feel all lazy and unaccomplished.

Due to her past political involvement, the opposition made a whole big ruckus (because apparently there aren’t any more pressing issues in our nation), behaved like a pack of spoiled children and were no-shows at the inauguration. Surprised I am not.

I hadn’t had much of an opinion on President Kangaloo until I read her inauguration speech and well, ladies and gentlemen it appears someone finally understands the assignment.


She didn’t make any big promises of keeping the government in line, she knows that isn’t her role. She didn’t promise to be seen as a fearless, strong ovaried, female leader.

In her self-awareness of what her position is, President Kangaloo did not stray from the ceremonial nature of her newly appointed role as head of state.

Her big promise was simple… to open the office and house of the President, to be more accessible and to advocate for more youth-based cultural programmes as a part of a holistic approach to building a better society.

She didn’t grand charge or scold, she simply said, “Hey, I’m here, come on over and let’s use this house you the taxpayers paid for, for the public to enjoy.”

This is a huge change from our last president.


Honestly, as sceptical as I am, I am impressed with President Kangaloo’s plans to use her position for our culture and arts for the benefit of our youth and I hope all the groups, all around the country, hold her to her word.

President Kangaloo’s approach to her presidency was refreshing, to say the least. No big promises and no pretending she can do things she cannot.

President Kangaloo clearly understands her role, a ceremonial figure, who cannot hunt down criminals or bring government corruption to an end, but can use her position to help create a space and programmes to enhance the lives of our youth in an effort to keep them on the right path.

So to you, President Kangaloo, I wish you well. I expect to see open doors and lights on at the President’s House. I hope to see the bandstand being used. I hope to see the Presidential Garden full again and hope to see you more than once a year for the next five years.



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