Commonwealth officials unanimously expressed their contempt and scorn for an Internet smear campaign that not only denigrates Saipan but also actively discourages visitors from visiting the island.
Saying that the matter do not deserve comment, most Saipan officials pointed out that the smear campaign’s website—http://hometown.aol.com/forgetabilia/myhomepage/profile.htm—is anonymous, thus making it suspect and therefore not worth wasting their comments on.
The website was last modified on July 11, 2001.
“I refuse to dignify the comments made on that website. It’s not even worth the paper it’s printed on,” said an indignant Press Secretary Frank S. Rosario, when shown a printed copy of the website.
The Commonwealth Ports Authority also refused to comment on the blatant smear campaign, with CPA information officer Travis Coffman saying that the CPA won’t release any statement on the website, which they view as malicious and a work of a disheartened person.
Board chairman Dave Sablan of the Marianas Visitors Authority also disdained to comment, saying the article, being unsigned, is unofficial.
The smear campaign, titled as “Saipan Sucks: The Truth About Saipan,” is a grocery list of complaints, ranging from local politics, the ills of nepotism, alleged corruption, so-called exploitation of nonresident workers, racism, discriminatory practices, and mismanaged tourism industry.
An excerpt of the website says: “Nepotism rules on the islands. Politicians run for office solely for the sake of being in a position to appoint their relatives to high-paying sinecures. In an election year such as this, campaign platforms are non-existent. Political campaigns in the CNMI are less sophisticated than a typical high school student council election in the mainland U.S. People don’t stand for anything other than a conduit for their relatives’ government employment.”
Rep. Malua Peter, when solicited for comments on this particular issue, pointed out that the problem with the website is that it is anonymous. She said that she cannot make any comment on something that is unofficial in nature, such as the anonymous site.
“If the person behind that site is really sincere, then he or she should put her name behind her site so we could explain to him or her how things here really are,” said Peter.
In particular, the site, which may be accessed whenever anyone uses the keyword Saipan when searching the Internet, actively urges potential visitors to the CNMI not to continue with their plans.
An excerpt of the site said: “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 thousands of miles from home in an economy that cannot accommodate them.”
This could harm the CNMI’s present campaign to attract nurses and teachers into the Commonwealth to fill up shortages in these areas as well as the Commonwealth’s drawing power among tourists worldwide. (With reports from Edith G. Alejandro)