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Wednesday, February 23, 2000

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High court ruling
should not end OHA

Bullet The issue: The U.S. Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional the restriction in voting for Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees to citizens of Hawaiian ancestry.

Bullet Our view: The ruling should not affect OHA's mission to provide for the welfare of native Hawaiians.

THE U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of the restriction of Office of Hawaiian Affairs election to Hawaiian voters should not bring an end to OHA.

The inclusion of non-Hawaiian voters in selecting OHA trustees should not disrupt the mission of benefiting native Hawaiians. Although the high court's decision opens up OHA elections to non-Hawaiians, the vast majority of voters are likely to be of Hawaiian ancestry, since they will have far greater interest in the outcome.

Harold "Freddy" Rice, a fifth-generation Caucasian kamaaina from the Big Island, filed the lawsuit as a test case challenging the state Constitution's provision that only qualified voters of Hawaiian ancestry be allowed to cast ballots for OHA trustees.

The U.S. Constitution's 15th Amendment, approved following the Civil War to grant suffrage to former slaves, grants voting rights to all Americans regardless of race. Rice maintained that the OHA ancestry restriction for voters was racially discriminatory.

Native American tribes on the mainland are allowed to vote for their leaders without inclusion of non-Indians in the voting process, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that Hawaiians should be treated similarly.

However, Native American tribes have been recognized by Congress as separate nations, and the Supreme Court declared Indian tribes in 1831 to be "domestic dependent nations." Hawaiians have not been granted similar status.

OHA's mission since its creation in the 1978 state Constitutional Convention has been to provide for the welfare of native Hawaiians with some of the revenues from ceded lands. Today's decision does not address that mission and should not affect it.

While the decision is a setback for Hawaiians seeking recognition as a legal entity, it clarifies their status and what needs to be done to achieve a measure of self-determination. It should not be allowed to diminish the role of OHA in providing for the welfare of Hawaiians.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Rice vs. Cayetano

January '97 OHA Ceded Lands Ruling

Missile attack threat
from North Korea

Bullet The issue: North Korea has denounced the United States for planning to build a missile defense system.

Bullet Our view: North Korea opposes such a system because it is developing missiles that might be used in an attack on the United States.

NORTH Korea has issued another statement denouncing the United States for planning to build a missile defense system. The North Koreans are inadvertently providing ammunition for continuing the program, because North Korea is one of the so-called rogue nations that are the chief threats to launch missiles against this country.

If the North Koreans are really planning to launch missiles against the United States, they would of course oppose construction of a missile defense system. Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of Kim Jong-il's ruling Workers' Party, charged that "The U.S. seeks to cover the world with its missile network and completely take hold of it." This turns the situation on its head. The proposed system is defensive in nature.

North Korea prompted concern in Asia as well as Washington in 1998 by firing a three-stage rocket that soared over Japan and landed in the Pacific. It is believed to be developing missiles that could reach Hawaii and Alaska.

Pyongyang agreed last September to forgo further missile tests as long as talks on improving ties with Washington continued. But it also has threatened to resume missile tests unless the United States drops the plan to build the missile defense system.

In an article in this section yesterday, Edward Neilan reported on the flow of funds from Japan to North Korea that have been used to pay for Pyongyang's missile and nuclear weapons programs. The money comes from credit unions in Japan operated by pro-Pyongyang Koreans.

Neilan said the Japanese government has decided to subsidize these credit unions like other failed financial institutions, which could result in even more money flowing to North Korea. Tokyo ought to be cracking down on this practice, not assisting it.

President Clinton is expected to make a decision this summer on whether to deploy a limited national missile defense system.

However, it may be prudent to defer the decision in view of a warning from the Pentagon's director of operations and testing that the Defense Department is moving too hastily toward a recommendation of deployment. The official, Philip Coyle, said the timetable is putting "undue pressure" on the program's managers to meet the deadline.

But the program should continue. If the recommendation is deferred, research and development of missile defense should proceed, to be followed by deployment when performance standards are met.

Within a few years North Korea, Iran and Libya may be capable of bringing all NATO countries within range of their missiles. The North Korean statement is indirect confirmation of Pyongyang's intentions. It would be foolhardy to fail to develop a defense system.

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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