Cal Lee Refuses Debate, Declares OHA “NOT for the Public”
On October 2nd, Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., a candidate for Trustee-at-Large in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, issued an invitation to opposing candidate Cal Lee to meet in public to debate relevant campaign issues. The challenge was motivated by Dr. Akina’s concern that Cal Lee has not participated in a single invitational opportunity to appear with other OHA candidates in public forums, community meetings or on a radio interview. Akina, on the other hand, has participated in every event to which he and other OHA trustees have been invited, resulting in a current “attendance score” of 6 to 0 over Cal Lee.
Lee has sent his refusal to debate in an e-mail to Dr. Akina’s campaign organization in which he cites the following as the reason he will not debate:
“…the Trustees themselves have an obligation & legal responsibility to work for the Hawaiian beneficiaries of the trust, NOT for the Public. You are campaigning on a platform that OHA should be for everyone which is contrary to the oath of office & fiduciary responsibility of the OHA Trustees… I do not see any value in debating a candidate who is running for a position for a Trust while campaigning on a platform that would violate the Trust itself. “
Dr. Akina responds: “Cal Lee has chosen to misrepresent our slogan, ‘OHA for Everyone’ rather than address any of our policy statements readily available on our website (www.Akina2012.com). ‘OHA for Everyone’ merely expresses the opportunity and responsibility all citizens of Hawai’i have to build a better future together, both Hawaiians by blood and Hawaiians at heart. The slogan also helps educate voters on the legal right and duty all citizens have to vote in the election of OHA’s leaders. My written positions make it clear that I am absolutely committed to OHA fulfilling its fiduciary responsibilities to Hawaiians. Mr. Lee’s suggestion that there is something wrong with non-Hawaiians also benefitting from OHA’s mission is inaccurate and harmful to the common good. My heart is saddened by Lee’s bold assertion that OHA is ‘NOT for the Public.’ “
On behalf of Dr. Akina, the Akina for OHA campaign reiterates the challenge to Cal Lee to debate Dr. Akina so that the public has the opportunity to compare both candidates and make an informed choice. Dr. Akina holds that Mr. Lee is failing to fulfill his duty to voters by refusing to participate in public forums or debates. Dr. Akina states, “Cal Lee’s name recognition is well deserved by his outstanding coaching career. Now that he seeks a public policy career, he owes it to his fans and voters to let them evaluate his knowledge, experience and leadership capacity for that role.”
Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., is a philosopher who lectures on human rights and business ethics in Chinese and American universities. He has served as a trustee for more than thirty years on boards at the local, regional and national levels.