Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why David Cunliffe is the best choice for Labour Leadership

Cunliffe-the David fit to humble political Goliath

Thakur Ranjit Singh
Future Leader of Labour Party and future Prime Minister of New Zealand: Face of confidence that can wriggle Labour  Party into power in the next elections

With the benefit of hindsight, many Labour Party caucus members would be kicking themselves for a wrong experimentation with a novice politician as their leader. Had they realised Chris Carter’s 2010 dream of leadership change, with David Cunliffe as the new leader, Labour Party’s political fortunes today would have been very different. So much valuable time on election runway has been lost, with a puffing and stalled aircraft that failed to take-off.  Had that change eventuated in 2010, today John Key would have been running for cover, instead of ridiculing Labour leader at his leisure.

Hope is not lost yet. Labour party members, caucus and unions still have access to political “rewind” button and redeem their oversight, to bring him back as leader to have any chance of winning the next election in 2014. That dream is not far away, as today Labour Party is in deep trouble, with falling polls, infighting, drifting away from its roots and lost morale. They need a capable man at helm of the party, not a mumbling humanitarian who hates politics.

Cunliffe is an experienced Cabinet minister and has the skills to front John Key. If Labour want to win, they will vote him in

And most radio commentators and many columnists have identified David who can sling-shot Goliath Key and National. They have picked David Cunliffe as the one suitable and appropriate to tackle John Key. Most talk-back hosts including Duncan Garner, John Tamihere and Sean Plunket, among others, have picked Cunliffe as the right choice. It was as far back as November, 2008 that Political Editor of NZ Herald, Audrey Young, hinted that Cunliffe would one day lead Labour. Herald’s Fran O’ Sullivan also feels that “Cunliffe is an experienced Cabinet minister and has the skills to front John Key. If Labour want to win, they will vote him in.” So many experienced journalists, who have seen leaders and governments rise and fall, cannot be wrong.

Cunliffe with other two contenders for the leadership race:Shane Jones  (middle)and Grant Robertson (right). The comradeship and unity among these three can result in victory in 2014 election, with the right person at the helm of Labour. Many many political  and media commentators have named Cunliffe as the best choice.

In fact, NZ Herald’s John Armstrong says that Labour Party do not have a choice in electing replacement for David Shearer. It has to be the other David - David Cunliffe, whose time has finally come. “He may wear his super-sized ambition on his sleeve. He may have an over-inflated opinion of his own worth. He may be extremely unpopular in some quarters of the Labour caucus. He may even self-destruct as leader.” Armstrong says. There are plenty of other reasons that will be enumerated later, but most important one is the fear factor. This one stands tall: David Cunliffe being Labour Leader worries National far more than any other contenders.

Cartoon depicting the fear factor that Cunliffe projects to Key and the National Party. It is believed that an Opposition Leader, in fact any political party leader, needs to have a bit of Political Mongrel , or Political Pitbull in them. As they say for Phantom, who is gentle to good people but rough with roughnecks, similar is true for a party leader. Cunliffe possesses that essential trait in a political party leader, and has natural disposition to be rough on political roughnecks.

As I have said before, this David gives jitters to the Goliath Key and National. They had good fun with novice Shearer, who now says he detests politics. Cunliffe is somebody who is as youthful as Key, as good-looking as him, as a traditional family man, with children as him, very suitably Harvard educated, with both government and private sector experience, somebody who is well steeped in Labours and political history of NZ, somebody who is a moving encyclopaedia on economic and financial issues, who is eloquent and school-trained debater and can spar with John Key toe to toe, in verbal energy, as well as in eloquence, financial knowledge and political history. And most importantly, as John Tamihere and Willy Jackson say: DAVID CUNLIFFE HAS POLITICAL MONGREL, SO IMPORTANT FOR A PARTY LEADER THAT DAVID SHEARER LACKED.

As Armstrong says, and many agree, David Cunliffe is the closest thing Labour has to an X factor - that indefinable political aptitude that makes Cunliffe relatively a star quality.

Cunliffe (right), with former Labour Leader, David Shearer. While he has been accused of being disloyal to his leader, you need to be a political animal and ambitious person if you wish to gain your rightful place in a political party. In the election that saw Shearer elected as leader, there have been allegations that MPs voted against the wishes of their electorate membership to choose Cunliffe. This then resulted in the current more democratic process of electing a leader in the Labour Party. It is hoped this process is more transparent and unites and enhances the Party.

Cunliffe has promised and pledged, among others, to:

·        Take on National and John Key.
·        Gather troops and unify caucus.
·        Set agenda and work on it.
·        Improve product and marketing, and never forget roots.
·        Not removing ladder once they have climbed up
·        Working on Industrial Relations policies and living wages
·        Not forgetting the roots of Labour, the working class and going to left to look after people who feel neglected by a right-wing government.

Media commentators have identified an urgent task for Cunliffe once he becomes the leader – tame the Greens, wrest back Labour’s power, authority and status as the real Opposition and stop Greens cannibalising core Labour votes that they had been allowed to gnaw into. Most importantly, in no uncertain terms Cunliffe will have to tell Russell Norman: Stop being the de-facto leader of opposition –now I (Cunliffe) am in control.

Embracing and celebrating diversity - Cunliffe joining in a dance during Waitakere Indian Association Holi  festival of colours, with colours of Holi  on his face. His rapport and empathy with common Labour members and belief in Labour roots are some strong qualities that make him a popular choice among wider Labour membership.

David Cunliffe, in a very unconventional manner, announced, and in fact, celebrated his candidacy in his office, filled and reflected by diversity of colour, races and faces of his New Lynn electorate. This man sounded and reminded us of another David that adored diversity, and Labour still adore: DAVID LANGE. If Labour wants somebody to match Lange’s wit, eloquence and political knowledge, they do not have a difficult choice.

Cunliffe announcing the launch of his candidacy in an unconventional manner-in fact already celebrating the win.  The face of diversity in New Lynn is clearly noticeable in the photo - the future look of New Zealand.

Just pick DAVID LANG...Oops, CUNLIFFE as the next Labour Leader and PRIME MINISTER of New Zealand come 2014.

Go ahead, make my day, and correct the past mistakes that Labour Party did in picking its Leader. Time is ripe to unleash DAVID CUNLIFFE to put fear and respect in opponents and pundits of doomsday.

Sure Can….just hope common sense and right choice prevails come Sunday 15th September, 2013 -DAVID CUNLIFFE AS THE NEXT PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND.


Monday, September 9, 2013

A tribute Kaumatua Denis Hansen:The greatest character in Maoridom

A tribute to a Maori legend: Kaumatua Denis Hansen

Thakur Ranjit Singh
KAUMATUA DENIS WILMOTT HANSEN-7 May, 1933 - 4 September, 2013

Western Leader was right to give  a headline—“A mighty kauri falls..” and Radio Live’s Willy Jackson and John Tamihere dubbed him “….the greatest character in Maoridom…” and we in West Auckland would know him as the first Life Member of an Indian Association.

The news of sudden passing away of KAUMATUA DENIS WILMOTT HANSEN hit the Indian community of Waitakere like a bolt of lightning. We had lost a friend, an elder, an Uncle, a Papa, a mentor, a relative and our link and communication to the Maori community.

DENNIS WILMOTT HANSEN- an octogenarian whose 80th birthday was publicly marked by people of all walks of life at Civic Theatre, Auckland on 8 June, 2013.

KAUMATUA DENIS HANSEN never felt like, or was ever treated as an outsider, nor did we in Waitakere Indian Association (WIA) feel he was not one of us. Whenever we had our functions and events, he was always there like a precious talisman of the Indian community, always present to give his blessings and prominent tall honoured presence. Be it Diwali, our social or Holi, our events were incomplete without him.

Papa Hansen -doing what he does best-Blessing Waitakere Diwali at Trusts Stadium last October. Any function of Waitakere Indian Association was considered incomplete without his blessings.

Just in our last AGM a few months earlier, it was resolved to make him a Life Member of WIA. Before this could be formalised, his call came. However, despite his passing away, Denis Hansen remains the first life member of Waitakere Indian Association posthumously. What an honour for WIA that it was not an Indian, but a descendent of an original settler, a Maori, who has the distinct honour of being a Life Member of an Indian organisation. He has been that fitting person to embrace that honour, in life, and in death, and does justice to the position.

Some years ago, WIA members had visited Waitangi’s historical site and stayed overnight to get an appreciation of history with the blessings of Kaumatua Hansen. He has also helped Indians bridge the gap with Maori community in Rotorua and has worked closely with Hindu Council of New Zealand.

Papa Hansen (in blue),  blessing and gracing his honoured presence  at Waitakere Holi Festival last year.

Waitakere Indian Association was having its Diwali meeting on Thursday September, 5, 2013. On Wednesday evening, Kaumatua Dennis Hanson’s close friend Mahendra Sharma Danny rang him, and left a message on his mobile, that it was his friend Danny reminding him of the meeting.

Papa Hansen with his son-like close friend, Pundit Mahendra Sharma Danny, whose home was always open for this  elder who was regarded as part of the family.

Little did they realise that our beloved Kaumatua, our Maori link was not around to listen to that message. Our uncle and Kaumatua Denis Hanson was no more. We had lost him to an untimely death-untimely because despite being an octogenarian (80 plus), he was full of life, energy, action and most importantly, humour and practical jokes. Even in his death, he raised commotion. It was well summed up by Western Leader that Denis Hanson knew how to command attention in life--- and in death. The sudden heart attack caused his car to hit the road barrier at Lincoln Road off ramp that blocked North-Western Motorway for most of afternoon of Wednesday 4th September. Even his passing away was full of attention, but he went away without bidding us farewell.

Part of Waitakere Indian Association delegation that attended his 80th birthday celebration, and did a special presentation at Civic Theatre, Auckland on 8 June, 2013. Dressed for the occasion are(from left) Messrs Manoj Tahal,  Mahendra Sharma (Danny), Dhani Ram, Pravin Kumar and Master Sanjay Dutt Sharma.
It sounded so unreal. It was just a few months ago, on June 8 that a full Civic Theatre, marked his birthday. Because of the close relationship Kaumatua and Waitakere Indian Association shared, he was always considered part of WIA, while WIA was part of Honi Waititi Marae. Indians in Waitakere were adopted in this Marae through Waitakere Indian Association, and we were never felt to be strangers to this land. It was Uncle Denis who invited a delegation of Indians to Honi Waititi marae in 2009, where yours truly gave a speech and included this dream which we shared with Uncle Denis:

80th Birthday celebration at Civic Theatre - with Whanau, friends, well-wishers, contemporaries and close family members .
I stressed that my grandfather was brought to Fiji to prop up agriculture. Therefore, the Indo Fijian migrants to New Zealand should not only be destined to running taxis and dairy shops, but could also help in developing agriculture in New Zealand and help in economic and agricultural activities. This could be done by utilizing thousands of acres of Maori land lying idle while Maori youths were involved in urban crime, drugs, gangs and wasting their lives away. There was much New Zealand could gain from the Indo-Fijian migrants whose real talents as farmers have gone begging. That is something that is on the planning board for discussion with Kaumatua Hanson and elders to forge an economic relationship which has hitherto escaped the notice of New Zealand leadership.

Papa Hansen (extreme right) having fun and sharing a meal at Waitakere Diwali Festival with Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett and friends. Papa's close friend, Danny, as he called Mahendra Sharma, is at extreme left. As is indicated by name tags, both Papa Hansen and Danny were parts of the Diwali Organising Committee. So close was Papa's relation with Waitakere Indian Association, that he was considered a part of the organisation, which has bestowed its first ever Life Membership to Papa Hansen.

Alas, this may never be realised now, that the main architect is gone, but we have hope that Waipareira Trust and John Tamihere will still have that relationship and collaboration with Waitakere Indian Association in absence of Uncle Dennis. If nothing else, just to ignite the flame of integration that Uncle Denis fanned.

John Tamihere, CEO of Waipareira Trust (left) with friends at Denis Hansen's 80th birthday celebration at Civic Theatre. John has been a close friend of Papa Hansen, and and is vested with realising the dreams of Papa Hanson to work for the betterment of Maori and migrant communities and forge ahead with seeds of collaboration Kaumatua planted.

Continuing this collaboration of migrants with Maori community has been the dream of Papa Hansen, and it will be a fitting gesture to continue in the tradition that this fallen Kauri planted as a seedling, that will produce many more Kauris.

May his soul rest in peace and West Auckland gather strength to bear his sad loss and absence.

So long Papa, may your soul rest in peace.

So, long, Papa.