is an island in the Western Pacific Ocean. It is the principal locality of the
U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Saipan and its
neighboring islands are close to Asia, on the Pacific
Rim. They nonetheless
share little of the culture of Asia or the U.S. Traditionally run by families, the
"society" models its government after that of the United
States -- to a point. However, unlike in the U.S.,
none of its legislators (in the CNMI House of Representatives and Senate)
is a lawyer. When asked about
this, a Mainland lawyer who has lived there for years laughed and said,
"Hell, most of them are not even high school graduates."
on the islands. Fueled by money
paid by American taxpayers and diverted to the far-off territory,
politicians run for office primarily for the sake of being in a position
to appoint their relatives to high-paying sinecures. Politics in the CNMI
is a blood sport. In an election year
– which includes nearly every year, since there
are primaries when there are no general elections – campaigning
starts on Memorial Day, with political signs littering the roadsides. During the interminable election
seasons government employees commonly take leaves of absence or sick time
from work and dedicate all their time to getting either themselves or
their relatives elected. And what
do the campaigns consist of? Nothing
more than photographs of the candidates with their family names exploding
on the landscape. One candidate
for U.S. Washington Representative, for example, was known by her married
name throughout her career as president of the local community
college. She was married to a
Mainland American. Suddenly as a
candidate she became a local, returning in her campaign posters to a
long-ignored family name blaring from the middle of the name she had used
professionally for years. Her
campaign posters, like all the others, screamingly appealed to nothing
more than indigenous racial and family interests.
platforms are non-existent.
Political campaigns in the CNMI are less sophisticated, if this
can be believed, than a typical high school student council election in
the Mainland U.S. They are
popularity contests -- family popularity contests and nothing more. Candidates are a conduit for their
relatives' government employment.
One Senator regularly runs for reelection under the slogan
"Why not!" Why not,
indeed? There are hundreds of
reasons why not. Ignorance and
illiteracy are two. The candidate
offers not a single reason why he should be given anyone's vote. He is routinely reelected.
Senator complained in the local media that because the Legislature keeps
passing laws, modifying and then rescinding them, the legislators look
like they don't know what they're doing.
He has a point: they don't know what they're doing.
"success" of the Legislature is measured solely on the number
of bills introduced and laws passed, regardless of their
constitutionality or their ultimate demise.
One member of
the Legislature, for example, introduced a bill during the Summer of 2002
to amend the CNMI Constitution to prohibit anyone other than persons of Northern
Marianas descent from running for political office. Of course, the prohibition is innate,
since nobody else has the slightest chance of being elected. This politician was rightly assailed in
the media (by non-indigenous island residents, of course) first of all
for racism, but also for having no concept of the CNMI’s obligation
to recognize the United States Constitution, which was endorsed and
accepted as part of the Commonwealth’s deal with America. Of course, assuming the politician had
an even passing familiarity with the Constitution (a dubious
proposition), he was speaking plainly for the rest of his ilk for whom
the “law” is little more than what the English refer to as a
odd,” notes P.F. Kluge in his excellent book The Edge of
Paradise: America in Micronesia. “The other islands chose leaders
who were exceptional, one way or another. . . . In the Northern Marianas
they elected men who were most like themselves, typical rather than
“typical” in the Northern Marianas is
anything but special, unless one considers rapacious greed and racism to
question in any election is which candidate will be given his turn to
steal the money pouring in from the United
In early 2003
two CNMI senators faced trial on federal indictments charging them with official
corruption for “employing” the other’s family members
in high-paying, phantom positions.
Because each senator is allocated $500,000 per year for
“office expenses,” theft is laughably easy. Apparently not content to
“employ” illiterate family members to sit behind a desk from
time to time and chew betel nut, one senator allegedly
“employed” another’s daughter pursuant to three
separate contracts – not letting the fact that she was a full-time
college student living 100 miles away in Guam
stand in his way. Witnesses
testified that the daughter never appeared for “work.” Of course, the other senator
reciprocated. Theft, like sex, is
much more fun when it’s done with a friend.
their opinions in letters to the newspapers. If you think they were outraged about
their elected representatives stealing taxpayer money and paying it to
their families, think again. Their
principal concern was that the senators were being unfairly prosecuted
and they should not be called to account, since it is common knowledge
that “they all do the same thing.” Of course, Nazis supporting Hitler and
American fascists supporting Bush all spout the same line: “they all do the same
thing.” (Another implicit
worry was that this prosecution and others of its kind might upset the
gravy train.) One defendant, in
fact, up until the time of trial, professed bewilderment at his
prosecution. So psychologically
ingrained is the culture of theft that, even facing jail, he considered
the practice to be no big deal.
The trump card
of every local politico or public official brought to trial is the
jury. Defendants know with
certainty that they or a friend will have a relative or dependent
government employee on the jury.
Faced with blatant intimidation by defendants’ supporters
glaring at them from the gallery – even the governor showed up
recently in the trial of some local drunks who shot to death a 7-year-old
girl at a family barbecue, since the local drunks were family members of
the lieutenant governor (guns don’t kill people, assholes with guns
kill people) – jurors commonly acquit even in the face of
overwhelming evidence of guilt.
They know which side their bread is buttered on.
spite of all the protections available to him, the first senator tried
was convicted. Pending his
incarceration he was actually suspended from the senate. It was unknown whether the presiding
senator – a relative of the convict – suspended his pay as
well. Indications are that he did
One reason the
federal government is prosecuting the case against the senators is that
their offices and positions – like everything else in the CNMI
government – are funded exclusively by federal money. This is federal taxpayer money
at issue and the “citizens” of the Northern
Marianas – like most people on the dole – pay no
the federal government is prosecuting the case is that the local
government is the biggest crook in the Pacific, and it can’t really
be expected to prosecute itself.
anti-nepotism law in the CNMI might simplify the election process: it
would weed out virtually all the candidates, with the probable exception
of the perennial gubernatorial candidate who was the unabashed pawn of
the garment industry.
candidate, late in the 2001 election, was shown to have paid a
prospective voter $550 by check drawn on his campaign organization. A photocopy of the check was published
in one of the two Saipan newspapers – not
the one owned by his sponsor and former employer. The candidate's spokesman answered the
charges. Unable to deny the
allegations of vote-buying, the spokesman defended the practice –
claiming the payments were an "accommodation" and that such
payments are made out of the kindness of the candidate's heart. They represent "the island
way." (He actually said
that. You can't make this stuff
up.) At least one other payment
was disclosed later, also drawn on the candidate's campaign organization
and similarly defended.
Vote-buying, therefore, is openly argued to constitute acceptable
conduct. And where did this
candidate's money to buy votes come from?
From the garment interests, of course. Because garment workers are paid nearly
slave wages, the factory owners are able to amass enormous capital both
to pay off United States
Congressmen to maintain the CNMI's political status quo and to buy votes
for their local candidate.
by governmental officials in the CNMI is also so common as to be hardly
newsworthy. It's "the island
garment industry money was devoted to paying for television campaign
commercials and print advertisements featuring "conservative"
congressmen (read "whores") supporting a candidate they
may never have met but whose sponsor can be very generous.
of the electorate's resentment of the well-publicized abuses perpetrated
by the garment industry, its candidate lost. Knowledgeable observers and islanders
themselves also understand that a major consideration in the minds of the
voters – and perhaps the controlling factor – was that the
candidate's wife is from the Philippines. The prospect of a Filipina as their
First Lady was repugnant to most of the locals, who see themselves for
some reason as racially superior to everyone else, especially people from
the Philippines. A third, unexamined factor possibly
leading to the candidate’s loss was his physical ugliness and
mean-spiritedness, which were not outweighed by his sponsor’s
Governor in 2002 appointed the head of his Attorney General “search
committee” to the position of Attorney General, presumably on the
The new Attorney General had little experience in civil law,
having previously been a public defender before entering private practice
and representing the government-owned utility company for a short
time. One of the few locals to
have filled the position, he lasted seven months and resigned, reportedly
because the Governor refused to follow his recommendation to appoint a
special prosecutor to investigate and deal with the Governor’s own
violations of CNMI law. This
caused quite an uproar in the CNMI. The head of the AG’s Criminal
Division threatened to resign if his personal choice of a successor
– another Assistant Attorney General (who was the criminal
lawyer’s “rabbi”) very weak on experience but very
strong on family connections and even stronger on arrogance and sense of
entitlement – were not named the new AG. Rumor has it he also threatened to hold
his breath until he turns blue. He
ultimately made good on his threat and submitted his resignation when the
local newspapers called his bluff.
After his rabbi was named and confirmed as AG, she rehired him as
Less than one
year later, the Attorney General, apparently having acquired enough legal
experience, was nominated by the Governor to the CNMI Superior
Court. As a local, she was
confirmed without any difficulty.
elected in 2001 proved to be so inept that he actually managed to lose
the 2005 election – to the garment manufacturers’
candidate. In fairness to the new
governor, he did find himself running against an incumbent whose
administration was characterized by nearly constant absences devoted to
first-class world travel on junkets calculated to improve the image of
the islands. Still, there was
competition. Of the three
candidates, only 200 votes separated the first-place from the third-place
The big news
in paradise as of late June 2003 was that certain senators were
boycotting the confirmation vote for the newly nominated attorney
general. Let’s call her, uh . . . Ms. Brown. Ms. Brown is a lawyer who worked for a
time as federal "ombudsman" – a post that required her to
listen to complaints of garment workers and other people challenging the
CNMI's labor and immigration policies and decisions. Brown then
went on to work for the local satellite office of the Mainland law firm
Milberg Weiss and was reputedly paid $250,000 for six months, federal
income tax free. Milberg Weiss was the law firm representing the
plaintiffs in a highly publicized class action lawsuit challenging sweat
shop conditions of CNMI garment factories that hold lucrative contracts
with well known Mainland design and manufacturing companies.
some of the local apologists for the garment interests decided to delay
Brown’s nomination to the extent they can, hence the boycott.
An interesting sidelight is that the senate president is reportedly
considering allowing the senator who was suspended after his conviction
on federal corruption charges to vote on the nomination, just to get it
through. The convict remains free pending incarceration. The theory is that once he is
transferred to his new home in a mainland federal prison, his suspension
will be converted to expulsion. In
the meantime, there is still plenty of political corruption that he can
government employment, the only significant sources of employment on Saipan
are the garment industry and tourism.
The garment factories import workers from China,
and other poor Asian countries and pay them the CNMI's minimum wage
--$3.05/hour. The workers are glad
for the employment, since they earn considerably more than they could in
their home countries. (The average
full-time worker in the Philippines
earns $68/month.) They also work
substantial overtime and get time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 per
week – provided, however, they keep their
heads down and hew to the company line.
If they display the slightest hint of individuality, or if they
dare to assert any rights taken for granted by people in other regions of
overtime is out of the question.
Most of the
garment workers are young women, some as young as 18 years old. Many work seven days a week and send
home what they can, after their housing and food costs are deducted from
their paychecks. The majority of
the garment workers live in "barracks" – factory-owned
housing facilities where it is common for them to be housed eight to a
room. Privacy is an unknown
concept to many of these hard-working people. Food is also provided by the factories,
at additional cost in the form of wage deductions.
the garment workers were prohibited from leaving their barracks after
work hours, essentially held captive on the factory grounds. One young Chinese woman was assaulted
and beaten by a factory manager and actually had the temerity to assert
her right not to be beaten. Her
story was reported in Time Magazine (see February 12, 1998 issue) when the Saipan
garment industry abuses first came to light in the late
1990’s. She was granted the
right to leave the factory and to apply for work elsewhere. Luckily, she found a good lawyer
willing to represent her against the factory and her case was later
settled for an undisclosed amount.
The reason the
garment industry is allowed to flourish in Saipan
is that U.S.
minimum wage laws do not apply and there are no U.S.
import tariffs for goods manufactured in the American territory. Many high-priced American clothing
companies (e.g., the Gap, Polo, Abercrombie
& Fitch) have contracts with Saipan garment
factories. They charge as much as
$100 for a garment purchased from a Saipan factory
for eight dollars.
of the Saipan garment manufacturing industry are U.S. Congressman Tom DeLay (Cockroach, Sugar Land) and his long-time
cohort Jack Abramoff (Scumbag, District of
Columbia), now under grand jury and U.S. congressional
investigation. In exchange for
millions of dollars of CNMI money (read, U.S.
taxpayer money), Abramoff hooked DeLay up with Willie Tan, the principal Saipan
garment manufacturer. A 1999
segment on the TV news magazine 20/20 revealed Tan’s own impression
of the importance of his relationship with DeLay
when Tan was shown on tape boasting to the undercover investigator posing
as a potential investor that there would be “no problem” with
Saipan maintaining its favorable relationship with
because of DeLay’s protection. That
protection included preserving the $3.05 minimum wage and local control
over immigration, which permit Saipan to import
Asian garment workers and pay them what are essentially slave wages. And because the CNMI is an American
territory, manufactured goods could be imported to the Mainland with
“Made in the United States”
tags, thus (mis)leading American consumers to
believe they were actually buying items made in the U.S.
and, in theory, subject to U.S.
wage and labor laws.
Notwithstanding the efforts of California Congressman George
Miller and others to resolve the abuses blatantly being carried out on U.S.
soil, DeLay had assured Tan and Abramoff that any such odious legislation would never
see the light of day.
For more on DeLay (Cockroach, Sugar
Land) and Saipan,
take a look at the following web site, published on May 15, 2005 . .
In fact, the
CNMI “guest worker” program is thought to be the model for
Bush’s proposal that the United States implement a federal guest
worker policy, providing people from Mexico, Central and South America
the rare privilege of working in the U.S. with no benefits, no rights
and, inevitably, no hope. Slavery
is alive and well in America,
and in the dreams of greedy exploiters throughout the land. If the CNMI model is any indication,
guest worker program will subject vulnerable immigrants to the absolute
control of ruthless employers.
Rather than controlling immigration itself, the government will
cede control to employers, who will have the power to subject workers to
deportation merely by terminating their employment. The Bush regime, made
up of sworn enemies of government, have destroyed every vestige of
good government in the Mainland in their quest to prove once and for all
that government does not work.
They can learn a lot from the corrupt miscreants in the CNMI.
As noted, United
States immigration laws do not control
in the CNMI, the U.S.
having ceded this authority to the Commonwealth in its deal with the
devil. Workers from Asia
who relocate to the islands to make a better life – unlike
immigrants to other parts of the U.S.
– have no right to apply for permanent residency and, ultimately,
report indicated in 2001 that the garment factories were under Federal
investigation for importing and furnishing their employees with
methamphetamine hydrochloride (also known as "speed,"
"crank" and "shabu") to
enable them to work long past the normal limits of human endurance. The powerful garment interests
vehemently denied the accuracy of the report and the Federal Drug
Enforcement Administration – as all Bush agencies do when
challenged by corporate contributors – did an about-face. Still, the "ice" problem is a
serious one in Saipan. (Of note, history indicates that it was
methamphetamine that helped fuel the fanatical Japanese war machine of
the 1930's and 40's. It’s
also making inroads as an American military “tool,” as the
friendly fire accident involving Canadian military participants in
Afghanistan makes clear.)
anticipated Federal "takeover" of immigration and minimum wage
laws is a source of terror to the islands' natives. Their principal fears appear to be that
(1) Asians granted U.S. citizenship will suddenly have rights and
will deprive the locals of their superior social and economic status and
(2) locals may consequently have to work.
There are approximately 15,000 people in the CNMI who have the
right to vote. Over 60,000 live in
Saipan alone. The predominant
nationality in Saipan is Filipino, and Filipinos have no right to vote or
even to work without immediate relative ("IR") status or an
employment contract. Many of the
monied locals in Saipan employ Filipinas as maids, essentially indentured
servants. Filipinos, however, are
the most talented and hardest-working people in Saipan, as they are in
most of Asia. Indeed, since the
majority of locals have no facility with English (and since they refuse
to work anyway), the newspaper reporters for the two local dailies are
mostly Filipino. And, although
they come from a country infected with governmental and social
corruption, Filipinos are assertive in their own way. Reporters commenting on this web site
were careful to include in their reports the page's URL in order to
enable readers to access it. To
paraphrase a famous line from a well-known movie, "Subversion, for
lack of a better word, is good."
A good article
on the conditions in the CNMI appeared in the Spring issue of Ms.
Magazine. It contained little new,
most of the revelations making up the article having been published
before. But because the situation
remains bad and never gets better – and because once they believe
nobody is paying attention, the locals devolve into the most reprehensible
conduct imaginable – it is a story that must be told and re-told
until the corruption of the Marianas is cured or until the United States
picks up and goes home.
Tourism in the
CNMI caters mostly to people from Japan
and Korea. Tons of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money are
spent annually on constant junkets to Japan and Korea by the Marianas
Visitors Authority, legislators and other government officials, including
the new Governor. (The MVA was
headed until recently by the former Governor's aloof and lazy son who
decided, after a new governor was elected, that he could find a more
secure place on the public tit if he went to law school. Of course, based on the “racial
superiority” of the local Pacific Islanders, he would overcome his
lack of education and intelligence by relying on affirmative action for
admission to law school.)
the CNMI is in the business of gouging Asian tourists – charging
them substantially more than "locals" for identical goods and
services – the tourism industry has fallen on hard times. The struggling Asian economy is blamed
by the CNMI government. But the
real culprit may be the greed of the islands' residents for money from
wherever it can be got. Tourism
and U.S. Government handouts are what keep the economy afloat and the local
politicians and government officials awash in graft. They're also what keep the local people
from having to work in order to support their flaccid lives. Japan, traditionally the CNMI’s
main tourist market, reportedly continues to send large numbers of
tourists to Hawaii, China and other Asian destinations, Europe and the
mainland United States. They have
learned to stay away from the Mariana Islands in droves. As Yogi Berra
once said, “If they don’t want to come to the game
there’s no way you’re gonna stop
landed in the Marianas in 1521 he named them "Las Islas de los Ladrones," or "Islands of
Thieves." Nothing has
changed. Theft begins in the
government, but doesn't end there.
On the other end of the spectrum, burglaries are so common that
some people reportedly bolt their furniture and appliances to their
floors. Dishonesty and thievery in
the Mariana Islands have been elevated to an art form. Far from being the object of scorn or
criticism, personal and public dishonesty is admired – as long as
the perpetrator profits from his or her activity and gets away with
it. When a police captain was
convicted recently of stealing federal money from a federally funded
confidential informant fund, scores of his fellow officers signed a
petition requesting leniency in his sentencing. (“There but for fortune go you or
His need to steal was attributed, in part, to his drug problem
– he was a speed freak – and not to his cultural affinity for
theft. By island standards, he was
a good cop. After serving his time
in federal prison, the convict will probably follow in the footsteps of
other convicted wrongdoers and return to a high-paying government job in
the CNMI – maybe as police commissioner.
Racism in the
CNMI is rampant. Laws are passed
granting specific legal benefits to members of the indigenous ethnic
groups, Chamorros and Carolinians. Local preference laws cover everything
from land ownership to employment.
"Locals," in any disagreement with U.S. mainlanders,
will disparage them with epithets like "haole"
and "goddam American." Of note, the locals all hold U.S.
passports and depend for their lives and livelihoods on local preference
laws and federal government handouts.
Many, having stolen vast amounts through corruption and graft, own
houses and property in the U.S. Mainland, while other Americans are
prohibited by law from owning land in the CNMI.
have profited mightily from their relationship with the U.S., the locals
almost uniformly despise Americans for their stupidity in supporting
them. Evaluating local political
candidates and aspiring political appointees, Mainland Americans with an
independent streak (and with a personal interest in owning land some day
in Saipan – every interest is self-interest) will try only
to assess the subjects' degree of racism.
It's not whether they are racist – they all are – the
question is how racist they are.
On a more
mundane level, the murder rate in Saipan is striking in view of the small
population. Over the course of
several months in 2001 several Chinese women were murdered. The extent of the police
"investigation" into the murders was limited for the most part
to identifying the victims by name.
This usually takes several days or weeks, after which the investigations
close. The police have done their
jobs. Unsolved murders in the tiny island community have grown in such
numbers that a "cold-case" task force was assembled some time
ago to pretend to solve more than 20 of them. No progress was anticipated to be made,
but the hope was, apparently, that there would be an opportunity to use
the existence of the "task force" to extort more money from the
Federal government. [Update: more than one year after the
“task force” was established, not one cold case has been
solved. The police remain, as
In late July
2002 a Japanese woman working as a travel desk agent disappeared in
Saipan. Her body was discovered
several weeks later. The police
arrested an employee of the Marianas Visitors Authority, the government
tourist bureau, and charged him with the murder. He reportedly stole the woman’s
ATM card and was videotaped using it after he killed her. Amazingly, the sole reaction of the
press and politicians to this incident was to bemoan the adverse effect
the incident was sure to have on tourism.
Trips by the Governor to Japan followed, in a bald effort –
against all the evidence to the contrary – to persuade Japan that
the Marianas are safe. Government
officials and the Fourth Estate demonstrated they were as callow
and insensitive to the horrific implications of the cheapness of life in
the islands as the run-of-the-mill thieving murderers who live there.
Back in the
early 90's the murder victims were mostly Filipina housemaids. According to people who were in Saipan
at the time, their employers, unable to fire them,
would have no choice but to kill them.
There really was no other way to get rid of them, and the
consequences of murder were non-existent.
(See cold case task force, above.) In 1995, partly in response to the
problem, the Federal Government issued a regulation prohibiting U.S.
Welfare recipients in the CNMI from employing housemaids. You read that right: welfare recipients employing
arguably more incest and familial intermarriage in the CNMI than anywhere
else in the U.S. Spousal abuse is also common. Stories of sexual child molestation
appear regularly -- almost daily -- in the local papers. A teacher charged with sexually
molesting as many as 19 school girls (mostly third graders) was arrested
in Hawaii in 2001 after fleeing Saipan.
The teacher was apparently one of the transplants from the U.S.
Mainland who go to the Marianas for the sexual adventurism that is one
source of the islands' attraction.
Serial sexual molestation of 8- to 10-year-old girls, however, is
a little over the top – even in Saipan.
"adventurers" use Saipan as a home base for trips to Thailand
and the Philippines for sex with Asian women. One government lawyer from the U.S.
Mainland travels regularly to Thailand, where, he boasts, he pays an
extra five dollars ($15 rather than the normal $10) to prostitutes to
have sex with him without a condom.
He is rumored to have returned to Saipan with a case of genital warts. Another high-placed government lawyer,
the chief “public defender,” operating on the home front,
reportedly waits outside one of the garment factories for Thai girls,
arranged by a contact, to meet him for sexual assignations. When the contact told him she no longer
wished to participate in this activity, he threatened her with
deportation. (Now – in 2005
– his office is recruiting lawyers from the Mainland at a salary of
It’s likely that in any interview, the PD will refer to
other “perks” of island life.
In an effort to educate prospective recruits about the pitfalls of
life on this corrupt island, someone has distributed the URL of this web
site to members of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.)
information about the degeneracy of middle-aged American male weirdos in Saipan, one might want to look into the
case of Larry Lee Hillblom. Hillblom died
in a plane crash in the islands in the mid-90's. One of the founders of DHL Worldwide
Express (he was the “H”), Hillblom was an accomplished sexual adventurer. He would travel to the Philippines
and other places to locate attractive prepubescent girls,
then pay the girls' mothers to contact him after their daughters' first
menstruation. Then he would return
and – manly man that he was – deflower the children. He liked virgins. Young virgins. The girls are known as "Cherry
Girls" and the practice is and was not limited to Hillblom. The
mothers are paid for pimping their daughters and some of the Cherry
Girls, as was the case with Hillblom’s,
wind up having children of their own.
Hillblom left an estate of approximately $600
million. Claimants –
unacknowledged out-of-wedlock children and their mothers –
converged on Saipan from all over Asia and Micronesia seeking a piece of
the pie. The legislature promptly
passed a law (the “Hillblom law”)
calculated to cut the Cherry Girls and their children out of the estate,
since the politicians saw themselves – of course – as being
first in line. (Although they may
not have slept with Hillblom they had been
figuratively in bed with him for years.)
But the courts, in an act of boldness that still has them shaking
their heads, declared the new law unconstitutional based on its
retroactivity and its clear intent to exclude rightful heirs.
The Hillblom case made many lawyers in the Marianas
filthy rich. As a result, L'Affaire Hillblom remains
a source of pride to the local legal community. In fact, apparently unable to find a
worthier pedophile, the CNMI judiciary in 2001 named the courthouse law
library after Hillblom. If there were knighthoods available in Saipan,
the decedent might now be known as the Late Sir Larry.
Hillblom founded and invested in the Bank of Saipan,
which was purchased by several new investors in 2001, including a former
manager of the Marianas Retirement fund, who promptly looted the bank of
most of its assets. Federal
indictments followed along with more corruption, including oversight by
former Hillblom judges, lawyers and others of
his cronies. The principal
depositors in the Bank of Saipan were Asian garment workers, along with
the CNMI government. Guess which
depositors got their money back?
(Hint: not the ones who
worked for it.)
mothers in Saipan have children by more than one
father, never having bothered to marry any of them – or possibly
one, since they are averse to divorce because of the influence of the
Roman Catholic Church in Micronesia. Fathers commonly have children by
numerous women. Child support, on the other hand, is uncommon. This is explained by apologists as part
of the Micronesian culture and is not to be criticized or commented upon.
deposed Governor, in fact, who traveled constantly to Japan and the
Philippines with his “special assistant” for Federal affairs
– a former television news reporter with no qualifications for the
position other than an apparent willingness to continue her career as
“the island bicycle” (everybody gets to ride) –
reportedly has given new meaning to “federal affairs.” The special assistant, married for
professional purposes to a reputedly gay, Guam-based airline executive,
reportedly became pregnant with the Governor’s child. This is not the first such adventure
for the Governor who, during his long stay in the U.S.
as the CNMI’s Washington Representative, is reputed to have had a
child with another Saipan luminary who was later
appointed to the judiciary. The
Governor’s wife and children are said to remain happily oblivious
to the paternal shenanigans.
Governor, in spite of the fact that he was acknowledged to be happily
presiding (albeit in absentia) over the meltdown of the local
economy, devoted a certain amount of energey to
planning the construction of a mansion for himself. Apparently, for security reasons, the
mansion – actually referred to variously as “the
palace” or “the castle” – is planned to be built on
a hill, with a 360-degree view.
(It is anticipated that once the palace is built, it will be
surrounded by armed militia or national guardsmen, and the U.S.
will be expected to pay.) As one
commentator has rightly pointed out, the purported concern of this
official for security is absurd; far more extensively than his
predecessors, he traveled the world incessantly, accompanied only by his
toadies, with no concern for “security.” His real interest, of course, was
gratifying his sense of self-importance.
One anticipated that after he got his palace he’d seek a new
title – maybe “king” – then discard his western
attire in favor of loincloths.
(Could this finally be the death of pretense?)]
the CNMI employing more than a small number of people are required to
hire locals to make up 20 percent of their work forces. The locals, however, are employed mostly
in no-show or do-little positions, collecting income based simply on
their "local" heritage.
They are not expected to work and they do not work. Many of these “employees”
are on the payrolls of the garment factories.
the U.S. Mainland relocating to Saipan face high
prices for everything from gasoline to food. Gasoline is priced on average at
approximately 70 cents a gallon higher than in the U.S. Mainland. Food is largely imported from Asia,
and the U.S.,
since the farming industry in the CNMI is minuscule. You can get local eggs, however, at a
cost of approximately $3/dozen. Saipan
chickens work hard. (Imported eggs
are reasonably priced, but they’re designated “Grade B”
and, where date stamps are inadvertently left on the cartons, it is clear
that they are sold as much as three months past their
expiration dates.) Fresh milk
costs about $7/gallon. The cows
work hard too. In spite of its
location, in fact, the CNMI could be the perfect banana republic –
if only the people could be persuaded to grow bananas or anything other
than betel nut.
would imagine that because of its location the CNMI would have a thriving
fishing industry, commercial fishing – other than by Japanese and
Korean trawlers outside territorial waters – is virtually
nonexistent. Fishing, it appears,
educational system in Saipan is abysmal. If you are a U.S. Mainlander who has
children, a move to Saipan would be disastrous for
your kids' education. High school
graduates taking English courses at the community college – in a
locality where English is the official language – frequently are
grouped with women from China
who are amazed by the lack of English competence of people who have lived
in Saipan all their lives. The public school system is bad
enough. The private schools in Saipan
pay their teachers barely a subsistence wage, while charging high
tuitions. Although people paying
good money to send their children to private schools in Saipan
claim the education afforded is equivalent to that in the U.S.,
they – like Mainlanders who justify their own children's poor
schooling options – are deluding themselves. Although the schools get what they pay
for, the children and their parents do not. The Northern Marianas
traditionally ranks at the very bottom of any list of students taking
standardized tests. (Students were
reported to have given “smart-ass” answers in a recent
standardized social studies test, pointing out some of the absurdities of
the islands’ “culture” and political system discussed
here. What’s this? Independent thought? Could this be evidence of a growing
dissatisfaction on the part of the islands’ youth? Is there hope for the future?)
In spite of
the fact that there are only approximately 10,000 children in the CNMI
Public School System, the annual "education" budget is around
$50 million. Of course, as little
as possible of the money goes for education. Politicians' supporters and relatives,
first and foremost, have to be rewarded.
And then there are the school construction projects, which provide
a constant source of bribes and kickbacks, and the constant travel of
school administrators to the U.S. Mainland for the purpose of padding
their incomes with per diem expenses.
The children do not enter into the equation. Meanwhile, in the library of the high
school opened in January 2002 there were no books. Teachers who still give a damn are so
desperate for books that they will borrow library cards from their
friends and acquaintances in order to give their charges something to
read. The ones who can read, that
A 2001 news
report revealed CNMI Board of Education testing had determined that
public school children were proficient in neither English nor their
native language, Chamorro. The question
to be debated was: "Should bilingual education be
abandoned?" It's an
interesting question in view of the fact that all education was
abandoned long ago. (Of course,
there is no "bilingual" education in the CNMI, but rather ESL
– English as a Second Language.
But don't expect the "educators" to know the
difference.) Still, the schools
and the officials continue to go through the motions, and continue to
rake in the federal money.
Somebody, after all, has to pay for all the luxury cars and
first-class world travel.
education” in Saipan is a bad joke. Because entrepreneurs and outright
rip-off artists can claim that Saipan is part of
the United States,
the economic scams perpetrated on the island are not limited to the
garment industry. A new
institution, the eponymous “Saipan
College” advertised in China,
was the idea of a Korean scam artist named Park Soong. For a mere $8,000, the advertisements
claimed, workers in China
could improve their lives by studying in America,
i.e., Saipan. In addition to pursuing their
education, they would also be permitted to work, earning substantially
more than they could make in China. After three years, they were told, they
could become U.S.
Citizens. Eighty-eight people
– all with good jobs in China
– bought into the enterprise.
When they arrived they were surprised to learn that there was no Saipan
College, no books, no
teachers, no jobs and – guess what?
– no right to stay or work in Saipan. All they were entitled to was a one-way
ticket back to China,
a process known as deportation.
in Saipan is essentially limited to hitch-hiking
or ownership of an automobile, although some bus service is
available. When one American moved
to the islands in 1999 a friend asked whether there was a subway on Saipan. The answer was that there are hardly
roads. (Actually, there are two
Subways on Saipan, along with a McDonald's, a KFC
and a Pizza Hut. Wendy's closed
down in 2000. But there is talk that a Taco Bell might be coming.)
such a part of the life that the following anecdote, passed on by a
visitor to this web site, cannot be other than true: "A friend of mine told me a story
about a store here that kept running out of a certain product. He finally asked the store clerk when
they'd be getting more in. The
answer: 'Oh, we kept running out,
so we stopped ordering it.'"
If you are one
of the Mainland professionals offered a contract to work in the CNMI, the
advice of some former American CNMI residents is "STAY
HOME." It is not uncommon for
contracts to be breached, leaving people many thousands of miles from
home in an economy that cannot accommodate them. Persons in positions of
"authority" (for want of a better word, since nobody accepts
"responsibility") casually, even sadistically, terminate
contracts – or, worse yet, refuse to execute contracts after people
from the Mainland relocate based on promises of employment. For example, in 1998 a couple from Virginia
was promised professional employment with the CNMI Department of Public
Works. They were professional
engineers who retired from the military for the sake of taking the
positions offered them. They sold
their house and their car. When
they arrived in Saipan with their children, no
contract was signed. Promises, however, abounded. They worked for several months without
pay before giving up and moving back home. They ultimately sued the CNMI and
obtained a substantial, although undisclosed, settlement.
of certain former Saipan residents from the
Mainland who have visited this site and shared their experiences with us
is remarkable. See the contest
entries below, which represent only a small fraction of the response.
employees working in Saipan who are victimized by breached
contracts and wrongful termination will be offered sympathy and
understanding by people who call themselves "friends," but not
one person will come forward publicly to criticize the illegal conduct
for fear of reprisal. Cowardice is
taught and quickly learned in the CNMI. The fear of reprisal dominates
the lives of all but very few. It
is an essential reason the institutional corruption continues to
correspondent whose application for employment with the CNMI Attorney
General's Office was pending for eight months inquired as follows: "My friend thinks of [the
then-Attorney General] as an honest and straightfoward
[sic] person -- but the 8-month delay in making ANY decision on my
application, set against his own admission of 'turmoil' in his office,
gives me strong doubts about remaining available for employment or
accepting an offer . . . . Please tell me what you think is the real
cause of the delay! It will be very important in making MY decision on
what appears . . . a charade."
answer the authors could give is evident in the page you are reading,
which prompted the reader's inquiry:
Everything on the islands is a charade. The Attorney General in question, like
many of his predecessors, was from the U.S. Mainland. Few "local" lawyers want the
job since they would be required under the law to prosecute their
thieving, murdering relatives. A
former assistant attorney general expressed the opinion in a newspaper
letter to the editor, in fact, that the AG in question knew little
– and cared less – about the law and was motivated during his
tenure solely by his own sense of self-importance and his bizarre
obsession with self-aggrandizement.
No decision under this official's tenure, the writer argued, had
anything to do with the law, only with accommodating political interests,
currying the favor of the local establishment, and – primarily
– gratifying the AG's (unearned) sense of self-importance.
If you are
told there are no snakes in Saipan, don't believe
it. There are hundreds of snakes,
and they all have two legs.
by employers in the CNMI, including the government, appears to mirror
that of the garment industry. Toe
the line, agree with every irrational whim of the arbitrarily appointed
decision maker, or you may be cut loose.
The general attitude controls all employment, from the government
to the garment factories, which hold their employees virtually hostage to
the dollar. Local government
department heads – primarily family members and political supporters
of elected officials --, because they are not qualified to do their jobs,
are shadowed by U.S.
transplants in "special" jobs (e.g., special assistant,
special advisor). The
"specials" are people who have, for the most part, embraced the
"island way" and given up their dignity along with any hope of
doing their jobs properly. The
prospect of being without income or employment so far from civilization
has neutered many idealistic transplants, engendering compromise and
debasement of the quality of any talent they might have brought with them
to the islands. Accommodation is king, with many long-time U.S.
transplants becoming apologists for, and an active part of, the corrupt
society. It's "the island way."
ADVICE: DON'T BELIEVE ANYTHING
TOLD TO YOU BY ANYONE ON SAIPAN, ESPECIALLY IF
THAT PERSON IS TRYING TO HIRE YOU.
DON'T ACCEPT ANY EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT IN SAIPAN. IF YOU'RE INTENT
ON DOING SO IN SPITE OF THIS WARNING,
SOME GOOD ADVICE MIGHT BE TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE PAID IN ADVANCE FOR THE
FULL DURATION OF YOUR CONTRACT.
YOU MIGHT ALSO WANT TO HAVE YOUR HEAD EXAMINED.
The only good
thing about Saipan is the golf. The golf courses are first-rate and
accessible, due to the decline of the tourist industry. But be advised: if you're looking for a
tee time and there are Japanese tourists on island, you will go to the
bottom of the list. The abject
catering to the Japanese – who occupied the islands before World
War II and who enslaved and abused the local people and actually forced
them to work – is striking.
But they pay. Some call
their payments "reparations:" Japanese pay on average five to
seven times more for golf than locals.
waters of the lagoon and Pacific Ocean are
typically polluted with organic waste, since the governmental officials
charged with waste management have never learned the fine points of their
discipline. Visit some of the
CNMI’s promotional web sites, where you will see photographs of Saipan's
lovely beaches, where you can swim, snorkel or SCUBA if you don't mind
swimming in shit. Many of the
beaches are “red-flagged,” closed due to pollution, every day
of the year.
The tap water
in Saipan is undrinkable. Although there are between 80 and 100
inches of rain a year on Saipan, the fine art of
maintaining a potable water supply has completely escaped the
island. Most residents interested
in continuing to survive rely on bottled water processed by local
desalination companies. Many others
rely on beer. In most areas of the
island power cuts out several times a month, sometimes several times a
day. The power plant contract
awarded to a mainland firm for upgrading the obsolete system could not be
consummated. The reason appeared
to be the inability of local officials to negotiate effectively. Perhaps
payoffs by the contractor were either not forthcoming or were
insufficient. Amazingly, the
selected contractor was Enron, the most accomplished corporate scam
artist of the 1990's. Even Enron,
however, was no match for the CNMI, who managed to out-scam the champion.
institutional attitude on Saipan is emphatically
"us against them," them being the U.S. Federal Government and
anyone else the CNMI is obliged to deal with.
officials eager to line their own pockets are able to pressure the Legislature
to program funds (donated by U.S.
taxpayers) for wasteful and frivolous projects by appealing to the local
voters' profound sense of entitlement.
A legislator's vote in favor of waste translates directly into
votes for his reelection.
official, who wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in frivolous
pursuits against the Federal government, pursued his campaign to have $2
million more appropriated to prosecute a lawsuit against the U.S.
Government purporting to seek the environmental clean-up of one of Saipan's many
polluted districts, which was already promised (for free) by the United
States. Per-diem payments for unnecessary
travel served to increase this official's income by tens of thousands of
dollars. He was desperate to keep
the Golden Goose alive.
Legislators hungry for votes, as usual, fell all over themselves
for the honor of sponsoring and supporting more wasteful
appropriations. And when the CNMI
runs out of money, Uncle Sam can be relied upon to come to the rescue. He always has.
If you think
you can move to Saipan and do some good, think
again. The inefficiency and
corruption infecting the Marianas are
monumental. People who moved there
years ago have learned they cannot do other than to live on their
knees. They make
accommodations. But the
accommodations they make are those no self-respecting person should be
required to make. Some of the most
corrupt, ignorant and self-satisfied officials on the islands are
transplants who have embraced "the island way."
So cynical are
the people in the CNMI that on a local internet message board one local
had the gall to gloat over the local government's success in scamming the
of $1.2 billion (B) in "Covenant" funds over the years. He attributed it to his perception that
"we are better negotiators."
It appears, rather, that they are accomplished parasites,
producing nothing and taking whatever they can. But such is the sense of superiority of
the indigenous people that the U.S.
is blatantly recognized as stupid for supporting them. In this person's view, they really
"put one over" on the U.S. One can only wonder how many hundreds
of millions of American taxpayer dollars skimmed off the top line the
pockets of the local elected officials and their families, many of whom
now live in luxury on the Mainland.
In addition to
Covenant funds, an additional source of Federal handouts is money
earmarked for capital improvement projects ("CIP's"). In response to the local government's
constant pleas for more and more money, tens of millions of dollars are
sent by the U.S.
annually to the CNMI for such purposes.
There is so much CIP money floating around that one subject of
political debate is what to spend it on.
The costs of capital improvements are presumably calculated based
on equivalent costs in the Mainland U.S.
Although Saipan is a virtual ghetto, roads
are, in fact, repaired. However,
the people actually doing the work are invariably Filipinos. They are paid at approximately the
local minimum wage, $3.05/hour, nowhere near the U.S.
minimum wage. Do the math. There's a lot of room for skimming off
the top, which is exactly the way they like it in the CNMI.
appear to suggest that the CNMI may be a center for the laundering and worldwide
dispersal of money by al Qaeda and
other terrorist organizations.
Because of the lack of Federal control in the CNMI over
immigration and labor, anyone from anywhere (e.g., Pakistan,
can gain entry to the U.S.
territory simply by having an employment offer from a local company. Several local companies are in the
business of transferring money between the CNMI and the Philippines
and elsewhere. Although the
"remittance" companies serve a valuable purpose in facilitating
the transfer of workers' money back home to support their families, they
appear to be completely unregulated – not through the absence of
laws, but through utter lack of enforcement. Yet it is no secret that the Philippines
is an unofficial host to terrorists associated
with bin Laden and other upstarts.
In fact, some American officials fear
that, because of its unique status, the CNMI is one place under the U.S.
flag where terrorist organizations bent on the destruction of the U.S.
can operate in the dark with impunity.
The pressure on Congress to impose Federal control over
territorial immigration, labor and air travel is reportedly
mounting. The change, in our view,
cannot come soon enough.
PRESSES!!! It appears the Saipan
Tribune, a media outlet owned by the Tan Holding Company or one of its
divisions or persons (the major garment industry interest in the CNMI),
was close at one point to identifying the authors of this web site. A front-page article in the Saipan
Tribune under the headline "'Saipan Sucks' author known"
reported, contrary to the headline's suggestion, that
"investigators" were trying to determine who is responsible for
this masterpiece. The goal was
reportedly to create a "defamation" suit, the investigators --
from the Attorney General's Office? – apparently
never having heard of the First Amendment to the United States
Constitution. They must have been
absent that day from law school.
Is it possible the "investigators" don't actually read
the papers, where vicious personal and political sniping among and
between government officials is reported daily? Is it possible the investigators don't
recognize political and social commentary when they see it? Is it possible the investigators can't
even read? Finally, is it possible the authors may one day actually have
the honor of being voted "Personae non gratae?" (This actually happens in the CNMI,
where an official of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of
Insular Affairs was voted PNG not too long ago for daring to point out
some of the abuses discussed here.)
The plot -- and the plotting -- sickens.
Bruce Lloyd Media Services:
"Apparently, the CNMI is incapable of stopping the meltdown
of its economy, sky-rocketing crime and various other ills, but we've got
government investigators from some unnamed government agency
investigating a web site critical of Saipan. The allegation is this site –
which many would concede contains more than a grain of truth –
amounts to libel/tort damage against the CNMI. One hopes this investigating agency
isn't the Attorney General's Office."
Another American chimes in:
"HEY BASTER , "SO WHY ARE YOU STILL
THERE????? IF I AM THERE ... YOU WILL NOT BE LIVING..
WE FEED YOU TO THE DOGS...BETTER YET TO THE SHARKS..... IF YOU DONT LIKE
IT THERE......LEAVE!!!!!!!!!! WE DO NOT NEED A JACK ASS LIKE YOU
THERE...LIFE IS A CHOICE OF WHERE YOU WANT TO LIVE
,WHAT YOU WANT TO DO,IDIOT... GET TO THE PROGRAM..
IF YOU CANT GET IT........
"DIE YOU PISS OF SHIT!!!!!"
Note: Although the majority of people
responding to this web page have offered positive comments and
recommendations (which the authors have tried to incorporate), more than
one person has responded with an accusation of racism. Indeed, the owner of an on-line weekly
commentary, crying "racist," appears to offer the opinion that
anybody who condemns nepotism, graft and bribe-taking is
"ethnocentric" and "immature" because these
"qualities" are part of the local culture. This rings familiar. It reminds us of the enlightened
minions who, after the end of the U.S. Civil War, claimed that former
slaves should continue to live and work on the plantations because that
was the way of life they were accustomed to and they were happy there;
besides, the argument went, they could not assimilate the values of the
dominant society. Hmmm. Should cannibals continue to engage in
their traditional cultural peculiarity after voluntarily joining a
society that condemns cannibalism?
To deny them the right to eat human flesh is unquestionably
ethnocentric, maybe even immature.
Yet how can somebody say with a straight face that condemnation of
bribery, graft and nepotism is racist because bribery, graft and nepotism
are cultural traits? Excuse
me? Isn't the real racism the overweeningly colonialist attitude that people are
not capable of living up to the legal and moral values of a society they
willingly chose to join? Isn't it
racist to propose that a group of people is incapable of adhering to
normal, accepted rules of civilized society? Going even further, in an era of
globalization where investors (governmental, institutional and private)
refuse to invest in corrupt developing countries like Indonesia
and the Philippines,
is it morally acceptable to claim that bribery, graft and nepotism in the
are beyond reproach because they are part of the indigenous culture? Such evils are subject to condemnation
everywhere else in the United States,
but apologists and accommodators claim that discussing these issues in
the CNMI is somehow racist.
Where is the real racism here?
On September 12, 2001, the day
after the World Trade
Center disaster in which
thousands of Americans and people from many other countries were killed
in New York, the then-CNMI Washington
Representative, a candidate for CNMI Governor, appeared on the local news
to express his concern that no CNMI resident was killed or injured in the
terrorist attack. This person had spent
years in the U.S.
portraying himself and the people of the CNMI as "Americans" in
the islands' endless quest for dollars.
Where was his empathy on September 11 for his fellow
Americans? Where was the sense of
solidarity expressed by the entire civilized world? What the politician did not acknowledge
in his craven plea for votes is the fact that the most ordinary New
Yorker is worth more than any CNMI native obsessed, like him, exclusively
with family and ethnic identification.
Such acknowledgement would not help him in his quest for votes.
In view of the
enormity of the September 11 tragedy, the opinion here is that it should
not have been used for local political gain in the context of a totally
corrupt sub-society. The person in
question should have been chastised for his ugly renunciation – solely
for local political and personal gain – of the people and society
who have enabled him to prosper at their expense.
was elected CNMI governor. You
know, the guy planning the new palace, the guy impregnating his
legislative assistant, the guy on the junket train.
As for the
authors of this essay, our days in Micronesia
have ended. Neither will we visit nor will we relocate to Polynesia,
or any other nesia. In all likelihood we
shall remain happily for the rest of our days ensconced in anonymous Longnesia, suffering, with a little luck, from a
selective am-nesia. Hence our name –