Richard Borreca

On Politics


EWC may gain
in importance
under Lingle

Tucked away toward the back of the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus is one of the state's rarely discussed gems, the East-West Center.

The location is stunning, the facilities, while not expansive, are good and the opportunities for cross-cultural understanding, education and discussion are among the best in the world.

Interestingly, the EWC, although now a quiet player on the local and national scenes, may become a highlight of the Lingle administration.

Although the center is run by Charles Morrison, a well-respected scholar, it draws much of its pull from its influential board of governors.

This is where it gets interesting, because the governor and the U.S. State Department each pick five members with five more international members elected by the U.S. members.

The names now read like a who's who of Hawaii's political insiders: George Ariyoshi, Lyn F. Anzai, Joan M. Bickson, Lawrence M. Johnson, Wayne T. Miyao and Linda Chu Takayama.

One of Governor Lingle's close political friends is Patricia S. Harrison, the assistant secretary of state for education and cultural affairs. A businesswoman and author, Harrison is the former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Party and one of the original enlistees in the Lingle fan club.

Harrison is also a member of the EWC board, and the center falls under her review at the State Department. She stopped here recently on the way to a meeting in Singapore and fell in love with the EWC.

"I think the East-West Center can build on its stellar outreach and will become more important to the region," she said.

"Because of the Sept. 11 attacks, we are more attuned to the need to connect to people on a people-to-people basis.

"The center is educating a new generation," she said, and then excitedly ticked off the names of young students from India, the Solomon Islands and China who told her how their perceptions of the United States and other countries in Asia changed because of their stay at the center.

"More and more what Hawaii represents is an antidote to global terrorism. If global terrorism is pushing people apart through fear, Hawaii, which is an experiment of so many coming together, is the atmosphere that could be the prototype for the future," Harrison said.

Lingle agreed this week, saying she was looking forward to meeting with Harrison again when she goes to Washington in February.

Lingle said she hasn't asked any current EWC board members to resign, but when spots open up, she and Harrison will certainly be working together.

When the two do get together, look for the EWC to rise in importance both here and at the federal level.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at

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