Saturday, December 18, 1999
marks battles climaxThe issue: Lokelani Lindsey's resignation as a trustee of the Bishop Estate is the climax of the battle to remove the former trustees.IT took Lokelani Lindsey's heavy-handed, arbitrary interference in the administration of the Kamehameha Schools to bring down the former Bishop Estate trustees.
Our view: It was Lindsey's controversial micromanagement of the Kamehameha Schools that cost the trustees the support of the Hawaiian community.
In previous years criticism of the trustees' excessive commissions and questionable investment practices fell on deaf ears.
The Hawaiian community rallied around the trustees whenever they were challenged because of the Kamehameha Schools' immense importance to the community. Politicians who might have been tempted to take action against the trustees were deterred by the Hawaiians' protective attitude toward the estate and the schools. The estate became a sacred cow, in effect immune from criticism.
Lindsey's provocative actions cost the trustees the protection of the Hawaiian community. The protest march of Kamehameha Schools alumni and parents of students to the Bishop Estate's headquarters in May 1997 was a historic turning point. These people, many of them pillars of the community, were outraged by Lindsey's interference in the schools and demanded that the other trustees rein her in. They were ignored. That marked the end of the Hawaiians' uncritical support of the Bishop Estate.
The march led to the Star-Bulletin's publication of the "Broken Trust" article, a sweeping indictment of the trustees and their selection by the state Supreme Court justices, written by five distinguished citizens, four of them Hawaiian. It in turn prompted Governor Cayetano to order his attorney general to investigate the trustees.
Over the past two years there have been many developments in the Bishop Estate battle, but this month a climax was reached.
In rapid succession, the three trustees who were the main targets of the attorney general's investigation -- Richard S.H. Wong, Henry Peters and now Lokelani Lindsey -- have resigned, averting the need for a trial for their permanent removal from the board. The other two members of the old board, Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender, both of whom had criticized the behavior of the majority, resigned earlier.
Regrettably, neither Wong nor Peters nor Lindsey has admitted any wrongdoing. They continue to insist that they acted in the best interests of the estate and that their removal was unjustified.
The three still face other charges and financial claims, but whatever happens after this will be anticlimactic. Their resignations -- which this newspaper called for two years ago -- are the key to this struggle.
With the battle for control of the Bishop Estate ended, the estate can now direct its full attention to its mission of education of Hawaiian children. It should devote far more of its vast resources to that mission than the former trustees were willing to do.
Bishop Estate Archive
of Macau to ChinaThe issue: Portugal turns its colony of Macau over to China tomorrow.Portugal turns its colony of Macau over to China tomorrow. This time there is little of the drama that attended Britain's return of Hong Kong in 1997. Macau has far fewer people than nearby Hong Kong -- 430,000, compared to Hong Kong's 6.7 million -- is much smaller in land area and is much less important economically.
Our view: This is another step in China's struggle to recover lost territories, the last being Taiwan.
Founded by Portugal in 1557 on China's southeast coast, Macau is much older than Hong Kong but was outstripped in importance long ago by the former British colony.
While Hong Kong is a major trade, financial and manufacturing center, Macau's economy is based on tourism, mainly casino gambling, and the manufacture of fireworks and textiles.
However, Macau represents another victory in China's campaign to acquire lost territories, the ultimate prize being Taiwan.
Unlike Britain, Portugal introduced no democratic reforms in its colony in the closing years of its administration. Nor was it reluctant to let go. Lisbon offered to return Macau in 1974, but Beijing declined. By contrast, the last years of British rule in Hong Kong were marked by conflict with Beijing over the reforms, which China claimed violated the turnover agreement.
Although a legislative assembly of appointed and elected members made laws for Macau, China has dominated Macau's politics and could veto any laws affecting the colony.
Gambling has long been Macau's economic life's blood, but real blood has been spilled in larger amounts in recent years as Chinese gangs battled for control of rackets linked to the casinos. A decline in business, much of which comes from Hong Kong, has been one result.
The violence has led some citizens to welcome the turnover in the hope that China will do a better job of maintaining order. A detachment from the People's Liberation Army will be posted in the territory.
The official position is that Beijing will accord Macau the same sort of autonomy that Hong Kong enjoys. But there seems less interest in democratic freedoms in Macau, and less ability to resist pressure from China. Unlike Hong Kong, Macau has few public critics of China.
A far more difficult and dangerous struggle lies ahead as China seeks to recover Taiwan.
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