Browsing articles in "Editorials"
Jan 27, 2013

Dinner with Aung San Suu Kyi

Through the efforts of Dr. Nancy Pace and many Rotarians from Hawai`i and elsewhere, Aung San Suu Kyi stepped on U.S. soil (here in Hawai`i) for only the second time since she has been released from house arrest.  At the Rotary International Hawai’i Global Peace Forum, Aung spoke about Burma for about 45 minutes.

The country she describes, once the Paris of the Far East, recalls Sarajevo after the Olympics.  A place with abundant natural resources and a culturally diverse population now decimated by war and a dictatorship of a military that was for themselves and not it’s people.

She never once called the country Myanmar, the pre-British rule name of the country which was reinstated after the military coup d’etat in 1962.  Although still contested, many, including the Nobel laureate have returned to calling the country Burma, in part because they refuse to recognize the military’s power in the government.   Aung thinks of Burma as Burma..  Her “Letters From Burma” is a  collection of all things Burmese —  from this amazing woman who was educated in Rangoon, Delhi and at Oxford University.

Her spoken English is beautiful, and her voice is deep and rich.  Clearly, having suffered bravely through many years of house arrest and earlier imprisonment, she is a strong woman.  Her spine is stiff, yet she is tiny and delicate, her hair done with an array of  tiny flowers on one side and a saffron colored rose secured on the other.  She was draped in a beautiful saffron dress.

Rotary had asked her to speak on any topic she liked.  She presented her vision of “peace and prosperity” for Burma, seeking the help of Rotarians and others across the world to help address problems of health, water, education, democracy and the law.

One theme of her speech was bribery:  now you must bribe almost anyone to get anything.  The allegedly free healthcare system has devolved into one where the clinic and hospital staffs are state-provided but materials including surgical instruments must be provided by the patients.  Should one want to insure a positive result, it is necessary to bribe everyone from the orderlies to the doctors and nurses.  The wealthy have turned to private hospitals (and private education for their children) leaving the poor to fend for themselves.  Her plea for this part of her vision:  restore Rangoon Hospital and assist the return of a truly free system of health care.

Burma is a sovereign state in S.E. Asia bordered by Thailand, China, India, Laos and Bangladesh.  It has a population of more than 60 million.  It is a country rich in resources, including water, abundant agricultural land, natural gas and gemstones.  

And it is Aung San Suu Kyi’s home.  She is broken Burma’s compelling ambassador to the world community, asking for kindness, compassion and tenderness — and help to rebuild her home and restore it to its position on the world stage.

Peace and prosperity is what we all want, she says, and it is what this damaged world needs to survive.

As for Rotary International, it is already involved in a water project in Burma, and surely will do more after hearing Aung San Suu Kyi speak with such passion about her country.  Rotary gives 50 International Peace Scholarships every year and its motto Service Above Self is one we could all adopt to help create the world that Aung is fighting for.  Thank you, Dr. Pace, and Rotary International for affording me and my family the opportunity of a lifetime to spend an evening with one of the planet’s most precious resources.


Jan 25, 2013

My Life in Guns

My grandfather shot himself dead with a gun.

My aunt shot herself dead with a rifle.

My cousin murdered his brother.

Eight of my half-sister’s aunts and uncles shot themselves dead with a gun.

My brother’s best friend was shot dead with a gun while watching television in his home.

My son and I were trapped in our car and nearly shot by a neighborhood vigilante with a rifle.

My family, you will point out, brings up the mental illness issues associated with gun ownership, but with the exception of my cousin all of the fatal wounds were self-inflicted — because they had guns in their homes.

(Don’t forget, Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face with a gun.  And Wayne LaPierre is probably mentally ill).

Jan 25, 2013

“He isn’t a Liar. He’s Just a Kid”. Manti Te`o’s Dad

Anyone who watched the Katie Couric interview with Manti Te`o got a sense of what it is like to be a child in an extened Samoan family.  Those of us who know Hawai`i, and those lucky enough to know Manti, know that he is the real deal.  At the end of the interview, I am not sure Katie believed him; maybe she has trafficked in the world of liars and narcissists too long to comprehend.

Does he seem 21 or 22 to you?  No, I think he probably doesn’t.  Manti has been expected to act as a leader, with dignity and respect for others since he was a little kid.  Now that he is a big kid, it seems like the world thinks he’s a grown up.  Could your 21 year old go through what he has gone through and still comport himself the way he did on Katie’s show?

Lance Armstrong must have been thanking his lucky stars when the Manti Te`o story came on the scene.  While compelling that anyone could be as naive and trusting as Manti, or as cruel and untrustworthy as Ranaih Tuiasosopo, this story did not rise to the attention it was given.

If Manti seems too good to be true, he isn’t.  You can bet he has learned a lot from this experience:  he may be naive but he is no dummy.  And I suspect no longer naive.  Given the chance, he will continue to surprise us all his life, and to be a model of decency and kindness.  This is something he shares with so many of the talented Samoans who play in the NFL.  Junior Tseu was one of them. Jesse Sapolu another.  Too many to count.

He didn’t need “Lennay Kekua” or “her” phony car accident and death to be a candidate for the Heisman.  Ask anyone at Notre Dame.



Jan 24, 2013

Give ‘em Hell Hillary

That’s all.  Just give ‘em hell.  somebody has to.

Jan 23, 2013

Selling The Garden Island

I am talking about the newspaper, not the island, which was just purchased by The Star Advertiser.  I think the job loss was quoted at 14 (or was it 41?) which may not seem like much, but it is a lot on the tiny island of Kauai.

The Star Advertiser is going to print the paper here and fly it to Kauai every day — this is no doubt part of carrying out The Advertiser’s plans, before it was purchased by the local people who owned The Star Bulletin.  So this is for you, guys;  you  know who you are.

When The Star Bulletin bought The Honolulu Advertiser, lots of people lost their jobs.  Now, more people are losing their jobs because of The Star Advertiser.  The reasoning behind putting your precious millions into The Star Bulletin in the first place, local owners, was so there would be local ownership and a second print voice in the community.  The local owners prize their local-ness and certainly understand the limitations of finding jobs in Hawai`i in general, and on Kauai in this specific case.

I inadvertently thought that the local owners were in fact interested in preserving local jobs.  I am a bit biased because I worked for Mike Fisch when he was the publisher of The Advertiser and The Honolulu Advertiser employed hundreds of local people.  It was The Honolulu Advertiser that built the shiny plant The Star Advertiser claims so proudly.

The Honolulu Advertiser was literally, because of its parent Gannett’s deep pockets, able to launch Sunshine lawsuits and work to get media information exposed.  While it is true that it was The Star Bulletin which exposed The Bishop Estate, that was to some degree that it had far less to lose than had The Honolulu Advertiser published it.  They were in fact offered it first, but didn’t publish it because they were fact checking — a lost art in the media these days.  Nonetheless, most of the stuff we know that perpetrators hoped we would never find out is because The Honolulu Advertiser had the deep pockets of its parent Gannett to pursue the answers hidden and unknown.

The Honolulu Advertiser, because of its parent Gannett’s deep pockets, was able to step forward and be the first company to give money to support the about-to-be-shutdown Honolulu Shipyard.  I need not go on — there were examples too many to count.

I know the newspaper industry is changing — even great papers like the New Oreleans own Time Picayune are being shut down or made into unrecognizable editions of their former selves — but here in Hawai`i, we all know things are different.  When the local people bought minority shares in The Star Bulletin because we needed a second (presumably local) voice, we were one of about four cities which had two papers in the entire country.  Anyway, we have the coconut wireless.

For a while O`ahu had two newspapers.  Now we have one.  Owned mostly by an outsider, a little bit by local people.  Acting like a big corporation.    I don’t know the insides of  The Garden Island deal.  Maybe they are  giving each person they are letting go $100,000.  But I doubt it.



Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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