Apart from two of them, the rest were friends that struck a relationship with me along the way. The exceptions were, a friend from our childhood days in Tongareva and the other, a school friend from my secondary school days in Auckland. I have struck up short term friendships with people at university and from sporting activities I was involved in, but most of them are far and wide and we have lost earnest contact.
As a politician I have at the most become fond of some people but the nature of my job (call it an occupational hazard if you like), makes it very difficult to get close to anyone.
But we politicians tend to generally refer to our colleagues in the game as “friends”. It is after all a convenient way of addressing one another without causing offence.
Last Wednesday, in his response to my criticism of him, the Prime Minister (probably his spin doctor Trevor Pitt) pulled out all of the harmful adjectives to describe me in my capacity as Leader of the Opposition and of course as a member of parliament for Tongareva. Terms like “absence of ideas and solutions”, “no reservoir of fresh initiatives”, “a well of deficiency”, and “deluded by memory loss”, supposedly flowed and rolled off the tongue of the PM. It was like cuts of silk of the affluent rolling about in Chinese VIP rooms and ribbons fluttering effortlessly in the breeze. And most astonishingly was his claim for me to at least show gratitude for my “own ecstatic willingness to jump on a flight home for Constitution celebrations”.
Let me however begin humbly by saying that my airfare to and from Tongareva was paid by Parliament, an entitlement for each MP from the outer islands to return home to their constituencies at least four times a year with their spouses. I could have hopped on any charter flight and there were several going over the last few weeks but the PM’s Office insisted that we, all northern group MPs travel together. So, thanks but no thanks on that one, and no thanks for the PM hogging all of the cargo space for his huge chilly bin of seafood back to Rarotongaand booze on the way over to his constituency.
On the colourful anti-Wilkie language, it actually reminded me of a Tongareva story. Protocol requires that when visitors arrive to the island, the host recites a welcoming chant. A man who for years dismissed the learning of chants as paganistic was befallen with the task of hosting important Government visitors, in fact a PM of the time. This man, on the hop, recited in the Tongareva language a chant that literally goes like this “Come, come, I have no chant, I have no chant” This man became the laughing stock of the island.
I guess the PM doesn’t know that he is in fact the laughing stock of the country. He is so because he is blind to criticism and also because he has a spin doctor who is nothing more than a mercenary, a paid assassin. He makes himself useful to PMs by spinning scenarios of vulnerability to them in the world of high politics. He was paid lots of money by former Demo PMs (somehow each of them unwittingly believed he could be tamed to stay in camp). For some bizarre reason Henry Puna (who could well handle such matters) divulged all of that responsibility to someone that could store all of his weaknesses and use them against him in future. I pity the PM. There is no loyalty from mercenaries, and certainly mercenaries foster a false sense of friendship. That’s why I say politics and friendship do not mix.
Let me however remind both the PM and his attack wombat that I am here to stay and fight for what is best for this country. I also have plenty in store from this Tongareva war cry “Kia mau te Selenga”.