An official of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce yesterday urged members to decide infavor of a request to join a non-profit organization recently established to pursue the immediate hiring of a public relations firm that will defend the CNMI amid relentless attacks abroad which may bring irreparable damage to its image in the international community.
Emphasizing the urgency of engaging the services of a PR firm, David Wiseman, chairman of the government relations committee, said this will counter the bad publicity brought about by the filing of a $1 billion lawsuit in California and Saipan.
Garment factory workers who filed the case against manufacturers and buyers alleged rampant labor abuses here which led to the negative media publicity describing the CNMI as a slave island.
Kerry M. Deets, president of the Chamber, has also urged the hiring of a PR firm because failure to respond to the damaging accusations may destroy the promotional campaign of the island as an ideal investment site.
Wiseman warned that the relentless attacks on the CNMI if not countered, may cause an irreparable stain on the image of the CNMI abroad. He said the non-profit organization was formed to include the Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association, Hotel Association of Northern Mariana Islands, Contractors Association of the CNMI, Bankers Association and the Chamber.
Aside from directly dealing with the PR or lobby firm that will be hired, the non-profit organization will be responsible in the raising of funds. An estimated $125,000 monthly retainer is needed to be able to engage the services of a PR firm.
Earlier, the Chamber had asked Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio to assist in providing the needed money since the lobby firm would help the CNMI government block efforts of the federal government to takeover the island’s labor and immigration.
The Chamber will ask its members to cast their vote on whether or not they would allow the SCC to get involved in the non-profit organization.
Leaders of the garment sector say a big number of their buyers from the mainland have drastically reduced orders following the filing of the lawsuit. They warned that this may result in a 25 percent plunge in user fees or a total collection of $36 million only for the current fiscal year.