HILO – Richard Ha, a well known farmer and businessman in East Hawaii, spoke out on Monday concerning the current blockade of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Mauna Kea Access Road.
Ha supported the TMT project in its early stages of site planning. He is one of the first to speak up on camera to Big Island Video News since the effort to stop the construction of the $1.4 billion observatory became a global cause.
“A lot of people feel intimidated, you know they’re scared,” Ha told us. “Whether they should be or not, I don’t know, but it makes them very uncomfortable.”
Thirty Meter Telescope officials have thus far been unresponsive to our proposals for an on camera interview, but Ha granted our request without hesitation. He said the heightened level of activity on the mountain has him concerned about safety. “I’m hopeful that (the leadership) is doing the right thing as far as trying to be careful and make everybody safe.”
Ha noted that since the We Are Mauna Kea movement went viral, “we are starting to see people on the mountain that we do not know.”
“As long as it was predictable I felt comfortable, but once it starts to get more and more and more people from outside the island, you’re not really sure.”
He said TMT has followed the process and now it has the right to build. “To put the sovereignty thing on top it, it’s confusing. I don’t think it’s proper. If they wanna go through the process that’s not a problem, go through the process.”
Ha stressed that the project will be a benefit to education, with its one million annual THINK fund contribution.
Ha also had some very precise words for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which appears to be reconsidering its previous support of the TMT project in the face of the current outcry, saying the OHA trustees should act like “parents and kupuna.”
“I’m not happy, frankly,” Ha said.
There will be a special meeting of the UH Board of Regents on Thursday in Hilo. Mauna Kea is on the agenda. Ha said he plans to attend.