Bishop leader on a deadline

Wednesday March 30, 2016 Written by Published in Politics
Teina Bishop: Leadership will be reassessed in July. 16032926 Teina Bishop: Leadership will be reassessed in July. 16032926

Teina Bishop will be the leader of the Members of Parliament in opposition to the Government until July 31, at which point his position will be re-assessed in the light of the outcome of a court case he is facing.


Bishop has been charged with corruption in relation to a loan he allegedly received from Leun Thai subsidiary Century Finance to invest in his Aitutaki Resort, Samade. He will appear in court in mid-July.

A joint declaration issued by both parties says Bishop will be “styled” leader of the opposition, but this in no way infers that he has assumed any role in the Democratic Party.

“William Heather remains the leader of the Democratic Party and a deputy leader of the opposition has yet to be appointed,” the declaration says.

“The purpose of the July date is an acknowledgment that Bishop has some charges then to answer in the High Court, but everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty and Bishop is no exception.

“If it were not so, prime minister Henry Puna and his entire Cabinet would be in exactly the same position, considering the number of allegations that are swirling around about them.”

The declaration says both parties believe Bishop's pre-dated letter of resignation from the position, effective July 31, is “the honourable thing to do” as it allows Bishop’s position following the court's judgment to be reassessed.

“Bishop has much experience both within Parliament and at the Cabinet level and the alliance thus forged will enable these to be put to the best use.

“His, and his colleague George Maggie's vote, will also swell the numbers and strengthen the opposition's ability to challenge all that is wrong with the present administration.”

The declaration says Puna and Finance minister Mark Brown have been quick to pour scorn upon the new arrangement.

“They do not like it. They are nervous about it. Their numbers are precarious.

Despite constant denials there is growing dissent and concern amongst their team with the leadership and they are vulnerable to that disenchantment finding expression in a no-confidence vote in Parliament where numbers are paramount.

“It therefore serves their purposes to paint the opposition alliance in the worst possible light.

Their not-so-subtle attempts to spread discord within the opposition ranks were patently obvious.

“Certainly there will be some for whom this new arrangement lacks appeal, but they should be reminded that an alliance such as this received an endorsement from both groups many months ago.”

The declaration informs supporters of both the Democratic Party and the One Cook Islands Movement that both organisations are intact and there has been no change.

“Do not be deceived by the frantic attempts by the Prime Minister and his Minister of Finance to tell you otherwise.

“They do not like this development at all and would do or say anything to undermine it.”

Both the Prime Minister and Brown have been trying desperately over the last few weeks to woo both Bishop and Maggie to the CIP, the declaration claims.

Their aim is to provide government with the comfort of numbers, and to continue with their “scandalous administration.”

“Generous offers and enticements were proffered but rebuffed. Bishop is a reformist and those enticements were precisely counter-productive to this principle of reform. 

“The message clearly resonating within the CIP camp is that with the One Cook Islands Movement having chosen to join the Democratic Party in opposition, rather than join a sinking ship, is that the days of the Henry Puna administration are numbered.”

According to the declaration, the Democratic Party and the One Cook Islands Movement are two separate entities but share a commonality of purpose and policy.

“They subscribe to the principle of parliamentary democracy and the manifestation of that in an Executive Government of integrity and honesty, free from any corruption, cronyism and nepotism which breed incompetency and waste and, as has been exposed in recent times, a flagrant disregard for constitutional limits on spending.

“Deriving their mandate from a plurality of voters at the last general election which rejected this present Cook Islands Party Government, they have come together in an effort, if not to oust this corrupt and wanting administration of Prime Minister Henry Puna, then at least to better manage the opportunities available for closer scrutiny of government activity and provide an  environment more conducive to facilitating a change in its leadership and, hopefully, a return to more responsible government.”

                - Release/CS

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