Saipan seeks D.C. solutions

The effort to save the Saipan garment industry has some hefty political weight behind it.

This is only fitting. The garment manufacturing industry in Saipan even with its shrinkage remains one of the two pillars of the Saipan economy.

While Northwest Airlines will introduce extra Osaka flights to Saipan from October that move will not recover all the visitors lost by the Japan Airlines pullout. While fledgling Chinese tourism may grow it is not eady to supply large numbers of visitors.

Against that pullout an industry that some Saipan politicians saw as dispensable becomes more attractive.

Alas the CNMI sits far from D.C. While the administration has hired a lobbyist and spent a week of July banging on doors in Washington the effort may be too late .

Industry leader Tan Holdings Corp. has pragmatically downsized and opened elsewhere. Many companies have closed down completely.

If the amendment to Headnote 3(a) is given to Saipan and only 30% of the “value” of a garment needs to be made in Saipan the industry will see more excitement than it has in a long time.

How close to politics?

The Saipan Chamber of Commerce’s valiant attempt to raise signatures in support of an iniative that would have limited the geography of electronic poker machines was intriguing and worrisome in two respects.

It is understandable that the chamber does not trust politicians to police the deep-pocketed poker machine. Putting the merits of the issue aside however and considering where the chamber was treading is what raises concerns.

It is one thing to back candidates and support issues from an arm’s length; quite another to become involved directly in the quagmire of politics into which the chamber did step with the initiative. We would like to suggest that the chamber had it been successful was close to forming its own political arm.

What’s next? A chamber slate of candidates? The new Chamber Party with it’s own platform? A chamber initiative to invest in a second submarine communications cable to Guam?

How would it then deal with the real politicians who once they become political opponents might adopt a do-it-yourself attitudes or what-can-you-do-for-me? attitudes toward the chamber. Political deals sometimes can be the worst kind to watch happen; so it’s best that business organizations concentrate on effectuating change in other ways — through lobbying and advocacy and by encouraging less government.