Monday, March 1, 1999

Extending runway
could boost tourism

THE state Land Use Commission has decided to resume review of the proposed extension of the runway at Kahului Airport -- a decision hailed by the visitor industry. A contested case hearing was halted in 1994, pending development of an environmental impact statement by the federal and state governments.

A longer runway -- extending it from the current 7,000 feet to 9,600 feet -- would enable fully loaded passenger jetliners to take off for mainland and foreign destinations. Currently the planes have to fly to Honolulu to refuel before going overseas.

The example of Kona is an incentive for the project. After the Kona airport runway was extended, permitting direct flights from Tokyo, the number of eastbound visitors -- mainly from Japan -- in West Hawaii increased by 12 percent. Meanwhile the number of eastbound visitors in Maui has dropped.

Marsha Wienert, executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau, said the tourism industry is relieved to know that the Land Use Commission will resume its review. But Isaac Hall, an attorney representing an opposition coalition, said the group will continue to pursue lawsuits challenging the adequacy of the environmental impact statement. The opposition centers on the potential for introducing alien species to Maui and on the effects of unwanted development.

Limiting the length of the airport runway is an inappropriate way to deal with these problems. The future of tourism seems brighter on the neighbor islands than on Oahu. The issue of the runway's length should not be permitted to block Maui's sharing fully in that future.


Criticism of China

WASHINGTON is wising up to the deceptive ways of the Chinese Communist leadership. In swift succession last week, the Clinton administration decided to reject a deal to sell China a communications satellite, the Senate passed a resolution urging the administration to sponsor a resolution condemning China's human rights abuses, and the State Department, in its annual review, reported that China's record on human rights had worsened.

These developments indicate that the administration's efforts to improve relations with China have accomplished little. The Chinese have shown no gratitude for Clinton's reversal of position on the issue of Beijing's most-favored-nation trade status and his endorsement of the Communists' position on Taiwan.

The administration rejected the sale of a $450 million Hughes Space and Communications satellite on the ground of national security because it would enable the regime of President Jiang Zemin to improve the accuracy of its intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Senate voted 99-0 to urge the administration to condemn Beijing at a United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., one of the most liberal members of the Senate and a sponsor of the measure, said dissidents arrested in China and their supporters "deserve our full backing in their historic struggle to bring democracy to China."

The State Department report said China had continued "to commit widespread and well-documented human rights abuses" that defied international standards. The report noted that in addition to killings, forced confessions and other repressive practices China imposed new regulations on the Internet, publishing and social organizations. It closed newspapers and barred politically sensitive publications.

Even this litany is incomplete. China has a long way to go to become a respectable member of the international community and progress is slow. The United States has to get along with Beijing somehow, but the pretense that this regime is a trusted friend and partner of the United States is becoming very hard to maintain.


Smoking in bars

CALIFORNIA'S year-old ban on smoking in bars is causing rancor in San Diego, where it is being strictly enforced. Smoking has been such a staple of bar life that its heavy-handed exclusion was bound to meet resistance. The angry barroom scenes should give pause to those who are pushing for a similar prohibition in Hawaii.

In many cities, the ban has been virtually ignored, while other cities are conducting education campaigns and issuing a few citations. The Los Angeles police have delegated enforcement to the fire department, which recently established a hotline for complaints. San Francisco police and health inspectors began enforcement only after the media portrayed the law as a joke.

However, San Diego police seem to have taken to its enforcement with enthusiasm, hounding barroom smokers and issuing enough citations to anger bar patrons. The vice squad is using undercover officers to catch drinkers doing the dirty deed. "What we want to do is create paranoia," police Sgt. Sam Campbell said. "We want smokers to be paranoid about being cited for breaking the law. If paranoia gets compliance, I can live with it."

Hawaii, in the throes of a tourism slump, can't live with barroom paranoia. That is the last thing that needs to be added to the Japanese recession, bloated local government and red tape that have contributed to the state's troubled economy. Many Japanese tourists, one of the mainstays of the visitor industry, are smokers.

California's Food & Beverage Association, a trade organization for bars and restaurants, is lobbying the legislature for an amendment to the law that would permit smoking if bars installed special ventilation. Hawaii should consider requiring bars to install ventilation within a prescribed time period to protect bar patrons from the annoyance of secondhand smoke.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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