Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 8, 2001

ADB meeting
Bank summit to open amid high security

 •  Hawaiian culture given prominent exposure
 •  Experts anticipate worldwide water crisis
Tourism Talk: Is the ADB worth its hype?
 •  Advertiser special: ADB in Hawai'i — global issues, local impact

By Johnny Brannon and Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writers

Warm aloha and tight security greeted Asian Development Bank delegates who began arriving at the Hawai'i Convention Center yesterday for the start of the annual conference of the bank that provides loans and grants to help the world's poor.

Walden Bello, an economist and sociology professor from the University of the Philippines, was among those who participated in an anti-ADB press conference outside the Hawai'i Convention Center.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

Elaborate Hawaiian cultural exhibits inside the center gave the kickoff a distinctly local flavor, while sidewalk barricades, police and guards — including some University of Hawai'i football players — underscored the heightened security for the weeklong meetings and conference.

Fifty-nine nations are members of the bank, which will be holding its annual board of governor's conference that will be drawing more than 3,000 participants.

Police reported no serious problems, but they closed off one lane of Kalakaua Avenue when a press conference by bank critics spilled over from the sidewalk.

A small group from indigenous communities in Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other Asian nations that have financed infrastructure projects with ADB loans said the bank put corporate profits ahead of people.

Poy Bun Nyok of Cambodia complained that a water project financed by the bank had flooded the area around her village and forced people to flee.

"Innocent people don't know where to go," she said through a translator. "People from the outside are destroying the traditional culture."

Inside the Convention Center, the manager of the ADB's Environment Division, J. Warren Evans, said the bank has increased protections for the environment and local communities.

"There are always going to be projects that present difficult environmental problems," he said. "The question is whether the bank can encourage countries to deal with the consequences to the greatest extent."

Local involvement

The ADB is trying to build systems that involve local residents in projects that affect them, he said, even in countries where leaders traditionally have not sought responses from those residents.

"Across the board, all of us have a ways to go to do this better, but we're all trying to improve what we do," Evans said.

Walden Bello, an economist and sociology professor from the University of the Philippines, questioned whether security efforts for the conference were designed to intimidate those who oppose the multilateral financial institution, which is based in Manila.

"We're all here in peace, and unfortunately the government of Hawai'i is displaying its fangs at people who just want to bring their story out," he said. "We don't think that is traditional Hawaiian aloha."

Victor Menotti of the International Forum on Globalization, also called the security excessive.

"Maybe some precautions have to be undertaken by a local government, but what I see here is just overkill, it's silly," he said. Menotti complained that media coverage of security concerns had overshadowed challenges to the bank and its lending policies.

National Guard Maj. Chuck Anthony, the state's security spokesman, said the nature of the event and its international attendees demanded precautions.

"What is excessive?" he said. "The state has to ensure the people who are attending this conference can do it in a safe environment and that's all we're doing. I haven't seen any intimidation at all. Nobody is going to infringe on anybody's First Amendment rights."

Protesters gather

The protest group ADBwatch planned to hold its press conference on the Ala Wai promenade behind the Convention Center but found their way blocked by barricades and security guards, with police officers stationed nearby.

An attorney representing the organization, an umbrella group of bank opponents, blamed the confusion on a misunderstanding of a court agreement governing their protest plans. Hawai'i American Civil Liberties Union legal director Brent White agreed with authorities that access to the promenade would be allowed from tomorrow until Friday, between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Asian Development Bank conference attendees walk past some of the images on the wall outside the Global Pavilion at the Hawai'i Convention Center.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

ADBwatch and other groups who oppose the bank plan to march past the Convention Center and through Waikiki tomorrow, starting at noon.

An anti-ADB seminar looked like a church service last night at United First Methodist Church near Thomas Square.

Speakers stood like pastors before a congregation of 300 listeners lined in pews next to banners that read "Alleluia" juxtaposed against sign such as "ADBwatch No 'Aloha' for the ADB!"

Bello drew applause by calling the ADB "a corporate monster."

"Corporate driven globalization is wrong," he said. "It is bad and it leads to a dismal future."

Pilgrims to the cause came from places such Cambodia and Thailand to spread the same message. "We're here to tell the ADB, 'Hey look, wait a minute, what your staff is telling you is not the truth,' said Beverly Longid , part of the Cordillera Peoples' Alliance that opposes an ADB project in the Philippines.

"We're from the communities we know," she said.

The project there, aimed at reducing poverty among farm families, is building roads where the real need is irrigation and introducing crops that are overtaking native plants, Longid said.

The biggest problem, she said, is that the native people are not consulted first.

'Visible yet invisible'

As for the intensity of the security presence, Assistant Police Chief Boisse Correa said police wanted to make their presence known but to be low-key about it.

"We want to be visible yet invisible," he said.

The conference has triggered a boom in the private security industry and is expected to benefit hotels, restaurants and other businesses. But the security and threat of violent protests is hurting at least one company in the area.

Ginette Eskinazi of Dale G. Gripps Jeweller at Century Center at 1750 Kalakaua Ave. says the normally busy week leading up to Mother's Day will be a bust this year.

"We were expecting $50,000 to $100,000 in sales but now we're looking at a zero," Eskinazi said. "We're going to close (tomorrow) because of the march. A lot of customers are just staying away. Some are calling and saying they don't want to come in because of the anticipated problems."

Another security measure will be added late tonight when concrete barriers are placed in the center of roadways fronting the Convention Center for tomorrow's protest march from Magic Island to Kapi'olani Park that protest organizers say will attract more than 2,000 demonstrators.

The road barriers are designed to keep marchers on the 'ewa side Atkinson Drive and the mauka side of Kapi'olani Boulevard and Kalakaua Avenue in the area of the Convention Center from noon to 1:15 p.m. They will not affect the normal flow of traffic during times other than the march, police said. The barriers are expected to be removed tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu police have closed off portions of Ala Moana Park and Ala Wai Community Park as staging areas fo the officers. The Kewalo Basin-side entrance is closed to traffic through Saturday night and public access to the park is only being permitted on the diamondhead end. The area from McCoy Pavilion to the 'ewa end of the park is closed to the public. The beaches, however, are not affected.

Most park users did not complain about the closure.

"The convention causes a little inconvenience but I guess it's worth it for the money coming in to the state," said 51-year-old Makiki resident Donald Elliott.

Pairs of uniformed officers were stationed at several entrances to Ala Moana Center off Atkinson, and at the corners of Kalakaua Avenue at Kapi'olani Boulevard and Atkinson and Kapi'olani. There were more than a hundred officers at Ala Moana Park and Ala Wai and around the Convention Center.


Unarmed Royal Guard Security officers are positioned in front of the Convention Center for non-confrontational duty. The company includes several UH football players. Among those on duty yesterday were placekicker Justin Ayat, offensive linemen Manley Kanoa III and Vince Manuwai and defensive back Hyrum Peters.

The Department of Transportation Services is banning parking on various streets near the convention center because of security and traffic concerns.

Parking will be prohibited through Friday on Fern Street (between Kalakaua Avenue and McCully Street); on Ke'eaumoku Street (between Kapi'olani Boulevard and King Street); Kaheka (between Kapi'olani Boulevard and King Street); and Kahakai Street.

While the ADB conference is on, court is off — at least for the time being — for some criminal defendants in cases where police officers or deputy state sheriffs might be called as witnesses.

Michael Broderick, administrative director of the state court system, said the number of criminal cases affected by the bank conference cannot be determined easily.

But because of the long lead time, hearings did not have to be rescheduled, but were merely not scheduled for this week, Broderick said.

"Proceedings involving in-custody defendants, requests for protective orders and other trials that must be timely heard to comply with statute or court rule are not affected," Broderick said.

Advertiser staff writers Glenn Scott, Curtis Lum, Robbie Dingeman, Tanya Bricking and David Waite contributed to this report.