Tuesday, August 3, 1999

Partial restoration of
Natatorium unlikely

Bullet The issue: Opponents of full restoration of the Waikiki Natatorium advocate demolition of the pool and grandstand.

Bullet Our view: Demolition is unlikely to succeed and should not be approved.

ADVOCATES of demolition of the swimming pool and grandstand at the Waikiki Natatorium have succeeded, for the moment at least, in blocking full restoration of the World War I memorial. But they are a long way from success in achieving demolition.

Mayor Harris and the citizens group Friends of the Natatorium have argued that destroying any part of the facility would not be possible, that the Natatorium is protected because it is on the state and national historic registers of historic places.

That view is supported by Don Hibbard, administrator of the state Historic Preservation Division. Hibbard said any plans to alter the Natatorium would require approval of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The corps, he explained, would have to determine whether there is an "adverse impact" on the structure -- a determination that would be made in consultation with his office and with the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

It is highly unlikely, Hibbard said, that either his office or the national council would approve partial restoration, especially in view of the fact that a plan for full restoration has already been prepared. A representative of Hibbard's office testified before the City Council in favor of full restoration.

Hibbard pointed out that the president's council includes representatives of the Defense Department, who undoubtedly would be reluctant to approve destruction of a war memorial.

An earlier attempt to demolish the pool, by former Mayor Frank Fasi, was blocked by a lawsuit. Fred Rohlfing, former state senator and Maui County corporation counsel, recently recalled that battle, in which he represented swimmers and others opposed to demolition, in a July 12 letter in the Star-Bulletin.

Future attempts at demoliton would almost certainly result in more litigation, with the prospect of years of wrangling while the Natatorium continued to crumble.

Jeremy Harris, in testimony in Circuit Court last week, reiterated that he still wants to restore the Natatorium fully although the city can't proceed because of a current lawsuit.

The mayor and a majority of City Council members want to proceed with the facade portion for the present, but opponents are trying to block all aspects of the restoration -- while claiming that they favor partial restoration.

Their true concern is not the water quality in the pool but preventing any interference with their use of the adjoining beach.

FULL restoration is the appropriate course of action. As the Natatorium's supporters maintain, the pool is the memorial. The new design provides for frequent flushing that will eliminate earlier problems with water quality. The Natatorium is worth preserving as a veterans memorial, a structure of historical and architectural importance and as a water sports facility.

The alternative to full restoration is not partial restoration. It is letting the Natatorium remain a crumbling, useless eyesore.

Defending Taiwan

Bullet The issue: The Clinton administration has been hinting that the United States might not defend Taiwan against attack by Beijing.

Bullet Our view: The U.S. is committed by the Taiwan Relations Act to the island's defense.

IN the wake of Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui's redefinition of his government's status in its dealings with Beijing as "state to state," the U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan has been questioned. The latest comment came from former Sen. Bill Bradley, who is challenging Vice President Gore for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Bradley said the United States should make it clear that although the U.S. is committed to helping Taiwan against a Chinese attack, Taiwan should not expect U.S. aid if its moves toward independence provoke an invasion by China.

Earlier, unidentified Clinton administration officials were quoted as warning Taiwan that the United States is not committed by treaty to its defense.

Both statements are evasions. The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 plainly spells out a U.S. determination that the future of Taiwan must be decided "by peaceful means" and that the use of other means would be "of grave concern" to the United States.

Moreover, the law declares that the U.S. will maintain the capacity "to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan."

Taiwan is independent in all but name. However, it still calls itself the Republic of China and gives lip service to the idea of reunification with the mainland at some future time when China becomes democratic.

Lee's recent statement did not declare independence but only stated the obvious: that Taiwan is a separate state. Taiwan demands to be treated as such in its dealings with the Beijing regime. This enrages the Chinese Communists but is entirely reasonable in view of the facts.

The Clinton administration is disgracing itself by attempting to appease China on this issue. Hinting that the U.S. would not defend Taiwan is dangerous; it could encourage a Communist attack.

The United States has shielded Taiwan from invasion by China since President Harry Truman sent the Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait following the Communist victory in 1949. The Taiwan Relations Act was intended to assure Taiwan that U.S. protection would continue even though Washington had just recognized Beijing as the government of China.

That protection should not be withdrawn to placate Beijing merely because the rival governments are engaged in a battle of semantics.

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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