SPEAKER CALVIN K.Y. SAY
OPENING DAY SPEECH
JANUARY 16, 2002
EMBARGOED UNTIL TIME OF DELIVERY
TOWARDS A BETTER FUTURE
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, TERRORISM
America’s freedom was attacked on September 11, 2001. Our lives forever clouded by the black smoke of 9-11, we will not forget:
When the call for help went out, Hawaii’s people immediately responded to America’s needs. We all rushed to donate blood, money, services, and goods to the grieving people of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. We lost jobs and financially suffered following the attack, but the Aloha Spirit survived.
As our nation struggles to respond to this unprecedented crisis, it is clear, at least for the near future, that we in Hawaii must first look to ourselves to protect and sustain our ohana.
What has emerged in the wake of the attack is the generosity and willingness of our people to help each other. Clearly, we need the collective, cooperative, and creative efforts of everyone, whether in government or the private sector, to emerge from this latest crisis. It is people like:
We are all in this together. Our collective vision will show us the way to a better life for all of Hawaii’s people. By coming together, we will find hope. By staying together, we will find strength. And by working together, we will find success.
To remind ourselves of our unique circumstances and challenges ahead, Members, I have placed two gifts on your desk.
The first is a bottle of a’laea salt, produced in the traditional way in Hanapepe. An important ingredient in many traditional ceremonies and practices, this salt purifies, heals, and cleanses our spirits. Nowhere else will you find such a rich combination in any salt. Its unique red coloring represents the earth, and the salt itself represents the ocean, symbolizing our special place as an island state and the enduring quality of our Hawaiian lifestyle.
The recent terrorism attacks have demonstrated how vulnerable we are. But this is only one type of disaster. We face many other dangers if we don’t take steps now to conserve our natural resources, meeting our needs within the carrying capacity of our islands so our children will benefit from our wise stewardship. We must embrace a sustainable lifestyle. We must conduct ourselves in a manner that meets and balances our precious environmental, economic, and social needs without compromising our future. I am talking about growing our own food, creating our own energy sources, minimizing wastes, and recycling materials. Just as using too much salt in our food is harmful to our bodies, excessive consumption is damaging to our land, air, and water. Use this special salt wisely, and in moderation, as a reminder to respect, protect, and restore our world.
This salt is also about practical needs. It is used daily to help preserve our food and flavor our dishes. Let this salt symbolize preserving what we have and remind us daily of our many friendships and the aloha we share with each other.
The second gift is a calendar, celebrating our indigenous fauna and flora. These native species, while beautiful, also offer lessons. These are species whose ancestors, like ours, were lucky enough to find their way here. And like ours, once here, they adapted and made themselves at one with our islands. They are not loud or conspicuous, but quietly thrive in harmony with our elements. Like us, our native ecosystem face challenges from a changing outside world. Alien invasive weeds and diseases burst like terrorists onto the scene and many species have gone extinct. Today, economic operations half a globe away shape the chances for the survival of the remaining fauna and flora. To the uninformed, there seems to be little future for our native species. But across our islands, children and teachers, scientists and native practitioners, landowners and government are all at work, insuring that the native species will have a future in our islands and that our children and our children’s children will have a chance to experience them. If they can have that much faith in the future, then we too, must embrace that faith and work for a future where our children can enjoy a good life in a healthy Hawaiian environment.
Please accept these gifts in the spirit in which they are given… and let them serve as reminders of our unique heritage and the immense responsibility we share in our future.
Initiatives for Hawaii’s Future
Our responsibility is great.
For the immediate future, our mission is clear. Each caucus has developed its own proposals to deal with immediate and pressing issues, including our educational system, economic initiatives, and government reform.
I challenge you to look forward into the future. If we are to realize a strong, healthy, and sustainable Hawaii, we must set the foundation now for our future.
First, we must deal with our tourism-based economy.
We must set the stage for tourism recovery by transforming our world-class, signature showpiece, Waikiki. Waikiki . . . the name itself evokes images of palm trees blowing in a warm ocean breeze, alabaster sand, and the crystal blue water with its quiet gentle surf. This is the typical image of Hawaii envisioned throughout the world. Over the years, dreams of a tropical getaway have lured millions of visitors to our shores, making Hawaii's 'miracle mile' one of the most enduring visitor attractions in the world.
However, the decades have not been kind to this 'gateway of the Pacific.' This tourist mecca has experienced haphazard growth, a deteriorating infrastructure, and unforeseen commercialization to the point where it no longer represents a Hawaiian sense of place.
The time has come to refocus our thinking and to polish our crown jewel of tourism. Through public and private cooperation, we need to revitalize Waikiki in a way that attracts the modern sojourner with today's conveniences, while preserving the tropical paradise which visitors crave. We need to create an inviting atmosphere to attract the local community back to experience Waikiki again. We need to restore Waikiki’s grandeur.
I propose that we create a Waikiki Authority, with participation from landowners, hotels, the city and county of Honolulu, State government, and tourism experts to set the course for the total redevelopment of Waikiki. We will not let Waikiki deteriorate because of conflicting jurisdictional issues. We must adopt and implement a master plan that will let Waikiki shine again.
Second, while tourism is our major economic engine, we must look at other options to diversify our economy. We must position ourselves at the forefront in developing new, clean industries. Research and development are the keys to our economic future.
To develop new industries, we must tap the resources at the University of Hawaii. Unfortunately, the University is currently unable to reach its full potential in developing these new technologies, because it has outgrown the limited land space available at its main campus. We must increase the capacity of the University to meet the changing needs of our State. I propose that we consider expanding the Manoa campus into areas makai of the H-1 Freeway.
The current tenants must be part of our planning process. It is not my intent to displace these businesses, but to include them in expansion efforts to make the University a viable college town. Imagine privately built and operated student housing facilities. Imagine renovated and new stores and restaurants. Imagine students, faculty, and old-time residents integrated in a vibrant, revitalized Moiliili.
Third, I propose that we establish a Hydrogen Energy Authority at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
Hawaii is the most oil dependent state in the nation, with petroleum supplying ninety percent of our energy. Without an indigenous, dependable, and economical energy source, we will always be at the mercy of forces we have no control over.
There is no reason we should be in this vulnerable position when we have the unique solar, wind, ocean, and geothermal resources needed to create a hydrogen fuel-based economy. The US Department of Energy already recognizes the University as a "center for excellence in hydrogen research." The geothermal wells on the Big Island await their incorporation into the hydrogen economy to produce clean economical energy. Recently, the Hawaii Fuel Cell Test Facility was established in Hawaii, with $1.5 million from the US Department of Defense.
This Hydrogen Energy Authority will facilitate research, development, and commercialization of hydrogen fuel technology. This will enable Hawaii to be the centerpiece of hydrogen fuel development in the Pacific Rim, if not globally.
The hydrogen economy in Hawaii is more than a challenge. It is an opportunity. We have the renewable resources and the technical expertise to show the nation the way to the hydrogen economy of the 21st Century. The rewards will be many. Not only will Hawaii be freed from its dependence on fossil fuel, but the money previously exported to pay for fossil fuel, will be kept in the State and used by consumers and businesses to generate more employment in Hawaii.
Finally, I propose the development of a Pacific Center for Ecosystem Sciences to be built at the old Paradise Park site. Last fall, in the shadow of September 11th, Hawaii faced its own terrorist attack when the dengue fever virus broke out in the islands. Like human terrorism, the dengue outbreak has shown us that we must be more vigilant to keep dengue and other diseases away from our shores. As an island state, Hawaii's future well-being is closely tied to the health of its environment. We must ensure that invasive alien plants do not interfere with our water supply, that alien insects and animals do not destroy crops or native ecosystems, and that introduced diseases do not threaten Hawaii's people and native species.
Hawaii has extensive scientific expertise in various areas to deal with these problems, but these resources are poorly coordinated and at times redundant. The Pacific Center for Ecosystem Sciences will consolidate State, private, University, and federal agencies like the Department of the Interior, US Geological Survey, and US Department of Agriculture in a new world-class research center. This center will serve as a catalyst for the stewardship of Hawaii’s natural resources, as well as a source for expertise and scientific interchange throughout the Pacific Islands.
What all these proposals have in common is their ability to diversify our economic base and provide long-term job opportunities for our people.
Moreover, these proposals can also be used to leverage federal funds and private investment dollars into our State. Given our limited state resources, we must tap into these moneys to help in our recovery.
Thanks to our Congressional delegation, especially Senator Inouye, Hawaii has a number of unique opportunities to leverage these federal dollars to help our State. We must continue these efforts.
For some, what happened on September 11th looked like the end of our way of life. But what sometimes appears to be the end is really a new beginning.
There are many lessons to be learned from 9-11, but the most important is that together we can overcome any adversity. What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are small matters compared to what lies within all of us. In these trying times, there is no incentive so great as the hope for a better tomorrow.
This I pledge to the people of Hawaii: We will not falter and we will not fail. Hawaii will get through this crisis. Just as we have done many times in the past, we will stare down adversity and emerge even stronger.