Saturday, August 14, 1999

Murder probe could
help film industry

Bullet The issue: A federal grand jury is reportedly investigating a 1994 murder related to the film industry.
Bullet Our view: A conviction in this case could help the industry improve its reputation.

HAWAII'S film industry was stunned when movie vehicles worth hundreds of thousands of dollars were deliberately burned in 1991 and again when a man working in the industry was murdered in 1994. The incidents were viewed as devastating blows to the efforts to attract film productions to the state.

One man, Joseph Tavares, was convicted by a federal court jury in June of arson in the truck burnings. Another, George Cambra, recently pleaded guilty to conspiring to burn the vehicles, which were owned by his competitors. The murder victim, David Walden, was shot on the Honolulu waterfront while retrieving movie trucks that had been leased to Cambra.

Now a federal grand jury is looking into the Walden murder. Television station KITV reported that two men who still work in the film business were called before a grand jury investigating the fatal shooting. The report said Jon "Sudee" Dahl and Lilo Asiata, who are both drivers for the "Baywatch Hawaii" television series, appeared before the grand jury Wednesday. Asiata confirmed he was questioned about the Walden murder but declined to say any more.

Both Cambra and Tavares have denied involvement in the Walden killing.

A conviction in the Walden murder would help the film industry remove a cloud of suspicion hovering over it and show mainland producers that such crimes are not tolerated in Hawaii.


Panama Canal

Bullet The issue: China is accused of seeking to gain control of the Panama Canal.
Bullet Our view: The Hong Kong-based shipping company that will operate ports at either end of the canal won't be capable of stopping or impeding ship traffic.

THE advent of the new millennium will find the Panama Canal under the full control of the Republic of Panama. The United States is committed to complete the process of turning over the canal and withdrawing its troops on Dec. 31, 1999.

The 1977 treaties under which the transfer of control will be made guarantee the neutrality of the canal in 2000, requiring Panama to let all ships cross independent of political conflicts -- and authorizing the United States to intervene militarily if Panana doesn't.

Some Americans contend that the treaties were a mistake and this country should retain control of the canal. Now opponents have seized on the possibility that China might gain control.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott charges that China is seeking to gain control over the canal through a Hong Kong-based shipping company that will operate ports at either end of the waterway. In a letter to Defense Secretary William Cohen, Lott charged that the shipping company has ties to the Chinese leadership and military brass.

The company is Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., which was awarded a 25-year contract in 1997 to operate terminals for container ships on the Atlantic and Pacific entrances to the canal.

"U.S. naval ships will be at the mercy of Chinese-controlled pilots, and could even be denied passage through the Panama Canal," Lott wrote Cohen. But Lott appears to be misinformed.

A Pentagon spokesman said Hutchison Whampoa has no ability to stop or impede canal traffic. Its port facilities are being designed to load and unload containers from ships that are too big to go into the canal. The company denied that it had any influence over the operation of the canal or that it had ties to the Chinese military.

Although the canal is still an important waterway -- about 12,000 vessels travel through it annually -- it cannot accommodate many of the large ships now operating -- hence the need for the loading and unloading of containerships.

If China was foolhardy enough to attempt to restrict U.S. use of the canal, it would risk war. The United States has the right by treaty to intervene militarily if use of the canal is restricted. In any case, it appears that the Hutchison Whampoa company couldn't interfere with canal shipping.


Waikiki Natatorium

Bullet The issue: Whether the salt-water pool should be restored
Bullet Our view: As the National Trust for Historic Preservation says, partial restoration of the Natatorium would be a travesty.

IT'S encouraging to see the National Trust for Historic Preservation weighing in on the side of full restoration of the Waikiki Natatorium. Efforts to restore the salt-water pool have been blocked at least temporarily but the city has begun work repairing the rest of the structure.

Opponents of full restoration want the pool and facade demolished and replaced by a beach.

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust, compared the Natatorium to such war memorials as the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and the marble statues at the Gettysburg battlefield memorial.

Moe said the pool is a critical component of the World War I memorial. "To consider abandoning it," he said, "would be a grave disservice" to those who fought and died in the war.

The Natatorium is listed among the trust's "11 most endangered" historic places.

As we have noted previously, the Natatorium is on the state and national historic registers. It is highly unlikely that approval would be granted to demolish the pool as its opponents wish.

The correct solution is full restoration.

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

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin