Compare and contrast


Remember in undergraduate English when you were asked to compare and contrast this novel or character with that novel or character? I invite you to compare the actions of the self-interested negative results player, with some folks who do our Commonwealth proud with their positive actions.

Smiling Cove debacle

There are things you need to know about the Smiling Cove debacle: There is an ulterior motive. Fish & Wildlife needs money to pay for a big purchase it made.

Claiming that the Outer Cove is unsafe for tourists but safe for the boat owners shows DDW’s true colors. Those colors are the scarlet of betrayal for self-interest. This is the plan to rake in the dough even if it kills the tourism goose that is laying the golden egg of taxes and the multiplier effect of the money the tourists leave behind that drives our CNMI economy.

I was confused as to why Fish & Wildlife would concoct a scheme to extort tens of thousands of dollars out of our tourists in order to “maintain the temporary dock” which is their stated reason. That maintenance might use a few hundred or even a couple of thousand, but not $200,000. Turns out that DFW has signed a contract to buy the temporary dock from the feds for $200,000-plus but has a minor problem: No money to pay the $80,000 payment due in December. Do you get it now? Yeah, me too. Why do they need to own this dock? They already have full use and access to it without paying for it, and better yet, with someone else maintaining it—the feds, with money overflowing their taxation purses.

Why should you and I be concerned about this? Because this strikes at the very heart of our tourism industry. It won’t take long before water sports and trips to Managaha, our No. 1 tourist attraction, could be a thing of the past. Already, social media pictures of sweating tourists in lines and crime tape stretched across the docks of the boats are ablaze across our major source countries. That kind of bad news spreads like wildfire. It kills visitor arrivals. There are too many competitors’ beaches they can go to without being browbeaten. They’ll go to Cebu next time.

The two biggest operators already refuse to roll over for the double taxation* extortion scheme and haven’t taken their customers to Managaha under the new regime. That 300 to 400 tourists per day aren’t arriving at Managaha and paying the tax. Subtract that from the CNMI tax coffers before you add in the ill-gotten proceeds from the Smiling Cove rip off.

*Boat operators pay for the dock at the outer cove and again the same amount for the inside temporary dock. DFW rents this same property to more than 50 tenants simultaneously! Is that legal? Every boat owner double pays dock rent. Do these PAX fees and rentals go into the general fund or do they become a slush fund for the DLNR/DFW? If the latter, it that legal? Who watches where that money really goes?

Let’s put a stop to this before our vital tourism industry takes a huge hit and sleeps with the fishes. We can’t afford to let this kind of thing slow down or stop our tourism industry. It’s all we have between us and the economic breadline.

BTW: Finance Department, where is the $5.3 million you owe the MVA by public law (P.L. 18-1) for promoting our islands to tourists from China, Japan, and Korea? If you would like to see your bank account grow instead of shrink, pay MVA what you owe them so they can use it to generate more direct and indirect tourist funds into your tax income accounts.


Here is an example of a company, a team, with leadership that provides extraordinary public service to the CNMI community and has done so over a decades-long time frame. It’s hard to find a fundraiser, or a club function, or a school program that TanHoldings does not contribute to. Jerry Tan and his Dad, Tan Su Lin, truly have a philanthropical nature. They are willing to give back, not just take. It has made them wildly successful in an economic environment that is not so easy to master.

TanHoldings also makes major contributions to the tourism industry: They underwrite the cost of charter flights from China and operate resort hotels and a major tour agency; they provide services via the transportation and shipping industry via CTSI; D&Q brings in many of our favorite wholesale goods and the list of partner companies making our lives better goes on.

Jerry Tan has been more than an advocate. He has been the driving force behind the sport of soccer here in the CNMI by sponsoring teams and managing the leagues that train our youngsters in the sport. He spearheaded the project that produced the CNMI soccer stadium down in Koblerville. We have that world-class soccer pitch, thanks to his undying efforts.

The list goes on and on, and most of you reading this can name a dozen other examples of TanHoldings’ penchant for public service. If they can see that it will improve our quality of life or our economy, they will almost always give a helping hand to a worthwhile cause. Thank you! We appreciate it.

There are plenty of other companies that are likewise generous in what is today called corporate responsibility. Latecomer Imperial Pacific International also provides an extraordinary level of public service and likely donates and spends even more than TanHoldings but have only been at it for four or five years. Skywalker, now virtually absent from Saipan, gave back at a high rate. Long-time CNMI companies like DFS, Joeten, Triple J, Bridge Capital and a number of others give back at a higher level than most others. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. I know I’ve unintentionally left out some worthy of mention. You know who they are.

I suggest we do some giving back of our own. Whenever you have a chance, please support these businesses by using their services and buying their goods whenever you can. It also doesn’t hurt to just stop by and thank them for their efforts to improve our beautiful islands. These are people and companies that help not hinder our progress toward a better tomorrow.

Thanks for Reading Sour Grapes!

Patience in motor traffic is best reserved for those behind you.
—Someone should have said this

If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least don’t harm them.
—Dalai Lama

A person who lives in denial will paint a picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light. Time has a way of showing people’s true colors.
—Shelby Loken

Bruce Bateman | Author
Bruce A. Bateman ( resides on Saipan with a wife, a son, and an unknown number of boonie dogs. He has owned and operated a number of unusual businesses and most recently worked as the marketing manager for MVA. Bruce likes to read, travel, tinker with bicycles, hike, swim, and play a bit of golf. He is opinionated and writes when the moon is full and the mood strikes.

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