Huff and puff fizzles in parliament

Monday June 13, 2016 Written by Published in Tropical Chronicles
Opposition leader Teina Bishop pictured in parliament last week. 16061221 Opposition leader Teina Bishop pictured in parliament last week. 16061221

IN HIS inaugural Parliamentary sitting as the new Leader of the Opposition, my friend Teina Bishop has been indeterminable and inconspicuous.


His non-performance deflated the hiss and and the roar that came after his coup d’etat to oust my other friend William “Smiley,” Heather, the incumbent Opposition Leader. There was so much promise from his loud roar, his prancing and his gestures justifying why he should be leader in Parliament for those Members of Parliament who oppose the government. So what happened?

When he was plotting and planning behind the scenes to take over the opposition leadership, there was much promise not just to those in his inner circle, but to the public at large as well that there were going to be some fireworks at the next sitting of parliament. There was an underlying theme of a move to change the government. There was a hint that Bishop had the numbers to effect a change of Government. June 9, he said, was “D-Day.” Interpret that whichever way, but to me and a number of close associates of Bishop it seemed “our man” had it in place and under con-trol. But as a political critic, hopefully of some worth, I had some doubts, because the dots just did not connect. I have come to respect Bishop for his tenacity and audacity but I sometimes feel that he never actually tightens the nuts and bolts of what he visualises and theorises as actual scenari-os that will occur.  Hence it will always remain speculative, but all of this gets camouflaged by the interactions with Cook Islands Party non-MP rank and file, the boozing, the gossip, the backstabbing talks, the hype emanating out of organised meetings etc. And of course this gets fuelled by the “naive hopefuls” in the Democratic Party and third parties or individuals with particular interest in having a new government to replace Hen-ry Puna’s lot.

Get the picture? Okay, putting that aside, let’s dig in deeper into this and maybe we will see some trajectories that could explain the impossibil-ity of the message of a change of Government and secondly, the consequences for the Democratic Party, inadvertent or not.

Let’s start with two peculiar positions that Bishop and his sidekick, Tupapa-Marairenga MP George Maggie, hold dearly. They would love noth-ing more than for the Cook Islands Party and for its leader prime minister Henry Puna to “undo” the criticism of Bishop and Maggie from the CIP. This is peculiar because it is about them finding a way back into the CIP and being legitimised as CIP. What, then, if that happens? Will they just drop the One Cook Islands flag (remember Bishop refers to it as a “movement,” not a political party) and resume their seats with the CIP?

“Nonsense,” Mr Bishop would say. “It would give us a clean slate to move on.”

Well, I have my doubts, because it has been on their agenda for quite some time.

The second peculiar position is why Bishop pushed to oust Smiley with a court case against Bishop pending. Is it a public relations ploy? Per-haps the hope is that his position as opposition leader might tally up points in his value as a Cook Islander. And yet even spookier in his labyrinth of twists and turns is the declaration that he will abdicate from the position in July – the month of his court hearing. I won’t ask why, but I scratch my head somewhat puzzled and angry with the position that he has dragged Democratic Party into. It’s like abandoning your bride at the altar after romancing her and promising her much. Perhaps this is where my cynicism surfaces. It is that Bishop did all of this according to an agenda and that is to install either James Beer or Captain Tama as Leader of the Opposition. And this brings up another disturbing scenario. Both of those characters are George Pitt, (the malevolent media commentator) charges. And disturbingly, Bishop has done a complete u-turn and has realigned himself back with the home-bound and bedridden Pitt, after a major falling out between the two.

Oh, what the heck! Am I scratching a festering sore here? I know that Bishop will be cursing me for this column, but for some reason he has stopped calling me for a chat or a bite to eat. So, I’m off the calling list. Maybe word got to him that I do not fully endorse his Opposition leadership strategy. But what is that strategy?

Is it for him to lead a coup d’etat and install a new government? Well, he has been at this since after the general election and electoral petitions of 2014 and all of his numerous so-called attempts have failed. That’s why I have been calling on the Democrats to focus on the 2018 elections because it just won’t happen.

The CIP MPs targeted by Bishop, including the Demo traitor Albert Nicholas, are safe and secure in their camp and regard Bishop as little more than an irritant. And the Demo MPs who fancy themselves as negotiators are like an erratic “Big Blue Bus,” to be avoided.

Let’s hope this next week in Parliament will be different. After all, the annual budget has been tabled and the 10-day debate has begun.

Will the Opposition huff and puff and eventually blow Henry Puna’s house down or will it whimper into submissiveness and approve the 2016-17 national appropriation? Please prove me wrong! 

Wilkie Rasmussen 

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