Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

to the Editor

Write a Letter to the Editor

Saturday, March 25, 2000


Pandering to PBEC was self-serving

The 33rd international meeting of the Pacific Basin Economic Council that ended this week was covered extensively by media and presented as an exciting opportunity for the economy and business.

As activists who have worked for fair trade, human rights and the protection of the planet --and who participated in the protest at the World Trade Organization ministerial summit in Seattle -- we'd like to offer an alternative perspective on the role of PBEC in Asia and the Pacific.

PBEC is like an immense Chamber of Commerce for businesses interested in investments in Asia and the Pacific. It is led by the presidents and CEOs of many of the world's largest trans-national corporations who lobby countries to open their borders to the free flow of capital.

PBEC's purpose is NOT to gain improvements in wages or working conditions for labor, nor to facilitate stronger standards of environmental or human rights protections. Furthermore, despite rhetoric to the contrary, PBEC hasn't taken significant steps to promote socially responsible business management.

Yet excessive red-carpet treatment was afforded this self-serving corporate club by our elected representatives. Numerous Cayetano staff and state legislators took time away from pressing duties to make appearances and attend special functions.

Last Friday, House and Senate leadership halted the legislative process to hold a closed-door luncheon with PBEC Secretary General Robert Lees, who no doubt shared PBEC's suggestions for making Hawaii more business friendly.

What kind of reception would elected leadership have offered if, instead of PBEC, the convention had focused on truly sustainable economies involving civil society groups such as United for a Fair Economy, the International Forum on Globalization, the Hawaii Institute for Human Rights or Public Citizen?

Through a growing resistance to corporate domination of our lives, and by getting involved in the political process, we can work together to promote an economy based on FAIR trade, not FREE trade.

Joshua Cooper,
Cha Smith and
Richard Weigel

UH protesters failed reality test

I find appalling the incredible ignorance of the students at Manoa with regard to the university's finances.

In the face of enormous increases in the cost of running the University of Hawaii and the state's inability to increase funding at the present time, a small but vociferous group of students has pressured the regents into not increasing tuition this year.

If these students have so little regard for their education as to reject a modest increase of $12 per semester hour then I say let the university collapse. It has, apparently, failed to educate the students to the realities of the world they live in.

Fred Boll

City ethics job doesn't seem too hard

Where do I apply to be director of the city Ethics Commission (Star-Bulletin, March 21)? With a salary of $70,000 per year, and without having to file an advisory opinion in the last 10 years, I feel qualified myself to distribute and review financial disclosure forms for city employees.

Von Dent

Don't penalize unlicensed contractors

After reading your March 22 editorial, I ask whether you need a reminder that the purpose of laws regarding construction work is to protect the public. To have regulations making it difficult to obtain a license, then to enact laws that confiscate an unlicensed contractor's tools and vehicle, protects only the licensed contractors and further contributes to the high cost of living in Hawaii.

The concerns stated by the licensed contractors are that unlicensed contractors do shoddy work, fail to complete jobs, have no worker's compensation or liability insurance, and do not pay their taxes.

To address these concerns and protect the public, we should consider raising the "handyman exemption" to $3,500 for unlicensed contractors who have liability insurance, request no customer payment until the job is satisfactorily completed, and require customers to report the contractor's name, Social Security number and taxable amount of the job to government.

A handyman working under these requirements would surely give homeowners like me the enforceable protection we need at a reasonable cost.

Charles Woods

Pentagon was right about suspected spy

It is unfortunate that some feel the need to play the race card in defending accused security leak Wen Ho Lee (View Point, March 3). They mistakenly rely on local newspapers and network television news for their information.

National Review magazine has pointed out the difference between former CIA director John Deutch and Lee. The latter took massive amounts of sensitive classified information, deleted the classified markings, put it on an open computer system, copied it onto 10 computer tapes, "lost" seven of the tapes, failed his polygraph test and, having learned the test results, began deleting the classified data on the open system.

Obviously, those "racist" Pentagon investigators need sensitivity training about "diversity" and the benefits of "multiculturalism" before they harass any more innocent (non-Caucasian) victims for violating security rules.

Carol R. White

'Expert' is wrong about guns and crime

John Lott Jr.'s book, "More Guns, Less Crime," is often cited by gun advocates. But researchers at Johns Hopkin, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland have pointed out that Lott's conclusions are flawed.

New York Rep. Charles E. Schumer notes that Lott's fellowship at the University of Chicago is funded by the Olin Foundation, which is associated with one of the nation's largest gun manufacturers.

Lott's study ignores murder by firearms statistics. In the first year of its gun ban, Australia reported an 80 percent decrease in gun deaths. In 1995, handguns were used to kill two individuals in New Zealand, 15 in Japan, 30 in Great Britain, 213 in Germany and 9,300 in the U.S., which has the largest numbers of gun owners.

All of this overwhelmingly refutes Lott's position that more guns mean less crime.

How Tim Chang



"A threat to one (union)
is a threat to all."

Russell Okata

Speaking on behalf of a coalition of more than 60
public and private-sector unions trying to derail
any attempt at civil service reform legislation


"A university is a free speech
zone. It's not a place where we
should put the lives of students,
faculty and staff in danger with
the presence of law enforcement."

Ruth Hsu

Among those criticizing UH President Kenneth Mortimer's
decision to bring 40 armed deputy sheriffs onto the
Manoa campus during student protests last week

Banks shouldn't be exempted from new tax

The Hawaii Bankers Association wants its member to be exempted from paying a new 4 percent state tax imposed on services that mainland companies sell to Hawaii businesses.

This new tax came along with the reduction of tax on local firms who sell services to other businesses. The whole idea is to make Hawaii companies more competitive and thereby keep money, jobs, and quality people from leaving our state.

With all of the pro-Hawaii, thumbs-up rhetoric we hear from the banks, hotel chains and shipping companies, it is ironic that they are the most likely to contract their service needs to mainland businesses or move their central operations across the ocean.

It's time for these Hawaii business leaders to put their money where their mouths are and show that they are as committed to the recovery of our state's economy as they are to their own bottom lines.

Robert Chanin

OHA logo

Freddie Rice's grandpa would hang his head

Harold "Freddy" Rice: Your great-grandfather, Harold Rice -- former owner of a ranch in Kihei, Maui, during the early 1900s -- would be ashamed of your nonsense today. You are a mixed-up kid.

Certainly, your growing determination for the preservation of the U.S. Constitution is hogwash. You should instead be thankful that you have grandchildren with Hawaiian blood.

Ruth Kahaawinui MacDonald
Pearl City

Group's support was independent act

I wish to clarify that a recent news conference held by the American Friends Service Committee -- to express multi-racial solidarity with kanaka maoli -- was not associated with nor an endorsement of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs' bill or Senator Akaka's task force.

Organizers of the news conference recognized that the kanaka maoli community was still formulating its responses to Rice vs. Cayetano, and that it is pursuing several viable options for sovereignty, including restoration of an independent nation as well as the formation of a nation within a nation.

Many in the general public are still unclear about the nature of the violations committed by the United States against Hawaii and the ramifications of the different sovereignty options. For this reason, we avoided endorsing any particular initiative but, instead, advocated general support for justice for Hawaiians.

Kyle Kajihiro
American Friends Service Committee

Oppressed minorities must band together

My heart is aching. I see what happens to Native Americans, African Americans and other minorities here on the mainland and feel their hurt as they feel ours.

World peace can only be accomplished when all people respect common sense and justice for all. What happened to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is another example of ignorance and hate that minorities and indigenous peoples have felt for years.

Civil disobedience is something I would not do, until now. I will fight along with my people and OHA for equality. Being half-Hawaiian means I can see these issues from both sides, with one side being the ugliness of the actions against OHA and the Hawaiian people.

Keoki Kealoha Rodriguez
Alameda, Calif.

Columnist's attempt to be funny failed

Humor is difficult to write, particularly on deadline for money. I know. I've done it. No laughs, no check.

Writing political humor is especially tough because the writer must have an understanding of complex issues. One cannot make up or manipulate facts to serve one's purpose. Yet two recent Charles Memminger columns were particularly bad:

Bullet In a March 10 column, "State needs session with Dr. Laura," Memminger attempted to slam state government by deriding the possibility that the Legislature might approve the use of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is not funny to the many chemotherapy and AIDS patients who find relief from using it. Dr. Laura, by the way, is that moralist media maven who calls gay people "biological mistakes" and "deviants." Ha! Ha! Ha!

Bullet On March 17, Memminger again slammed state officials, this time over the Waimea rock slide. He pointed out, "It took 20 years for North Shore residents to allow a McDonald's to be built in Haleiwa." Doesn't he know that the fight was not about building a McDonald's, but about demolishing the Haleiwa Theater in order to build the restaurant?

Scott Foster


Legislature Directory
Hawaii Revised Statutes

Write a
Letter to the Editor

Want to write a letter to the editor? Let all Star-Bulletin readers know what you think. Please keep your letter to about 200 words. You can send it by e-mail to or you can fill in the online form for a faster response. Or print it and mail it to: Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or fax it to: 523-8509. Always be sure to include your daytime phone number.

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

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin