Friday, April 30, 1999

Bishop trustees
must be removed

Bullet The issue: The Internal Revenue Service is threatening to revoke the Bishop Estate's tax exemption unless the trustees step down.
Bullet Our view: The IRS demand makes the removal of the trustees unavoidable.

THE end should be near for the beleaguered Bishop Estate trustees. It's hard to imagine how they can survive in the face of the demand by the Internal Revenue Service that they step down or risk revocation of the estate's tax-exempt status.

Even if they don't leave voluntarily, the Probate Court should use the report of the IRS position, prepared by five "special purpose" trustees appointed by Probate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang, as grounds for their immediate removal.

It is inconceivable that the trustees would be permitted to continue when that would jeopardize the estate's tax exemption. It is difficult to imagine how the trustees could harm the estate -- and its beneficiary, the Kamehameha Schools -- more than by losing the tax exemption that makes the work of the schools possible.

We have grown weary of calling for the trustees to resign, but the process for their removal is in place. The criminal indictments of two of the trustees, Henry Peters and Richard Wong, the scathing criticism of Lokelani Lindsey's antics in managing the schools and the scandalous behavior of Gerard Jervis made it obvious to all that they must go. The IRS demand makes that step unavoidable.


Protest in Beijing

Bullet The issue: Thousands of members of a martial-arts movement demonstrated in Beijing.
Bullet Our view: The government should try to deal with such protests without resorting to violence.

WITH the tenth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre approaching, China's leaders got a scare when 10,000 members of a martial-arts movement demonstrated peacefully outside their walled compound in the heart of Beijing. It was easily the biggest protest in the capital since the Tiananmen debacle and apparently took the leadership by surprise.

Concern about the stability of the regime is growing because of unemployment resulting from the downsizing of state-owned industrial concerns. The unraveling of socialism has increased anxieties and strengthened the attraction of folk cults.

Unlike the events of 1989, the Falun Gong demonstrators dispersed Sunday without bloodshed as police made no attempt to intervene. Official sources said Premier Zhu Rongji met representatives of the cult briefly and referred their demands to the cabinet's complaints bureau.

The following day the cabinet issued a mildly worded statement calling on the protesters to voice their grievances through "proper channels." On Wednesday a government spokesman, in an interview with the official news agency, took a sterner position, saying the demonstration was wrong. He warned protesters they would be punished if their activities endangered public order.

This is no ordinary political group. Falun Gong was born out of a form of martial arts known as qigong -- a breathing exercise based on a theory of inner energy. The sect claims 100 million followers, but that number may be exaggerated. Members are mostly the elderly, women and the sick but also include government officials, university professors and students.

The sect's leader, Li Hongzhi, who now lives in the United States, preaches salvation from an immoral world on the brink of destruction. His books, which are banned in China, rail against homosexuality, rock and roll and drugs and blame science for the world's evils.

The government wisely refrained from using violence against the demonstrators. But dozens of police patroled the streets around the leaders' compound, wary of another protest.

The Falun Gong is an unusual test of government toleration of dissent, which has been lacking for more outspoken critics of the regime; they often wind up in prison. If the regime deals more liberally with this group, it may set an important precedent. More challenges to the Communist Party's monopoly of power can be expected.


Votes on Kosovo

Bullet The issue: The House voted to require congressional approval for sending U.S. ground forces to Kosovo.
Bullet Our view: The failure to support President Clinton may encourage slobodan Milosevic.

THE U.S. House of Representatives perhaps reflected the nation's uncertainty over the war in Kosovo when it voted to require President Clinton to obtain congressional approval before sending ground forces into Yugoslavia. Both Hawaii members, Neil Abercrombie and Patsy Mink, voted for the bill and against the president.
The House also rejected, on a tie vote, a resolution endorsing the president's decision to participate in NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. That vote went mostly along party lines. The vote on the air campaign had the support of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, but other House leaders worked to muster Republicans in opposition.

Americans by and large had no idea what they were getting into in Kosovo and still don't understand all the implications of current U.S. policy. The specter of Vietnam still hangs over Washington as a warning against rushing headlong into a quagmire. Unfortunately the House's failure to support the president's policy can only encourage the Yugoslav tyrant Slobodan Milosevic.

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