Thursday, August 5, 1999

Selection of Bishop
Estate trustees

Bullet The issue: A group of Hawaiian organizations has presented a plan for the selection of future Bishop Estate trustees.

Bullet Our view: Their proposal to include present and retired Supreme Court justices in the process seems unwise.

IT was quite a sight: Ousted Bishop Estate trustees Lokelani Lindsey, Henry Peters and Richard Wong in a march of Hawaiian organizations from the royal mausoleum in Nuuanu to the Kawaiahao Plaza offices of the Bishop Estate, by way of Iolani Palace.

The march followed the route of the one two years ago by alumni and parents of students at Kamehameha Schools protesting the policies of the same trustees, with special emphasis on Lindsey.

That 1997 protest march set off the eruption of the Bishop Estate controversy, resulting in the removal of the trustees.

Tuesday's march was conducted by 16 Hawaiian organizations presenting a proposal for the selection of future trustees. The will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop stipulates selection by the justices of the Supreme Court.

After being subjected to withering criticism of the political character of their appointments, four of the five current justices declined to continue performing that task. Robert Klein was the lone dissenter.

Called the Justices Working Group, the march participants also filed documents in Probate Court calling for a selection process that follows the will of the princess.

They proposed that future trustees be selected by Justice Klein. As an alternative, they proposed that retired justices of the Supreme Court make those choices. The organizations want to screen applicants themselves and recommend three finalists to the justices for a final decision.

Robert Kihune, chairman of the interim board of trustees, promised to take the proposal under consideration. The interim trustees intend to present their own proposal, and there may be others as well.

Despite the provision of the will stipulating selection of trustees by the Supreme Court justices, it seems desirable to keep the justices out of the process in view of the problems that resulted in the current controversy.

THE participation in this march of three ousted trustees, all chosen through the flawed former process, produces a suspicion that the group is not willing to support the thorough reform that is required to eliminate political influence. However, a preliminary screening of candidates by Hawaiian organizations could be useful.

Bishop Estate Archive

Ex-arms chief accuses
three U.N. members

Bullet The issue: The former chief United Nations weapons inspector has accused Russia, China and France of trying to end inspection of Iraqi attempts to make weapons of mass destruction.

Bullet Our view: The charges show that the U.N. Security Council is an unreliable defender of world peace.

WHILE the world's attention was focused on Kosovo, the continuing problem of Iraq was overshadowed. But now Richard Butler, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, who left his post in June, points out that there have been no arms inspections in Iraq for 12 months. Saddam Hussein could be trying to make nuclear, biological and chemical weapons again for all anyone knows.

Butler, an Australian, accuses Russia, China and France, Iraq's allies on the Security Council, of lying about a tiny quantity of VX nerve agent left in a U.N. laboratory in Baghdad in order to kill the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) he headed.

The VX test samples and other chemical warfare agents used to test Iraqi material were left in the laboratory when Butler ordered UNSCOM inspectors to leave Baghdad in mid-December on the eve of U.S. and British airstrikes. Iraq has banned UNSCOM from returning.

Even though France, China and Russia knew the test standards were harmless, Butler charged, they urged the Security Council to have the samples analyzed, intimating that UNSCOM inspectors may have laced Iraqi warheads with the VX agent.

Butler said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his senior staff participated in the "falsehood" that the VX was deadly and agreed to Iraq's demand that UNSCOM experts be banned from the team sent to Baghdad to investigate the laboratory.

The former chief weapons inspector accused Annan of trying to destroy UNSCOM because it was "too independent," and of trying to paper over Iraq's cheating on its disarmament obligations with diplomacy.

These are disturbing charges, a reminder that the United Nations Security Council remains an unreliable defender of world peace. By working to discredit UNSCOM, Russia, China and France placed their own narrow interests over the need to stop Saddam Hussein from repeating his aggression.

SUCH weakness in the Security Council is the reason the United States and its allies took action through NATO against Yugoslavia rather than wait for U.N. approval. The fact remains that Saddam Hussein has succeeded in stopping U.N. weapons inspections -- with the connivance of some Security Council members. This could lead to another crisis.

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