By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 6 -- The UN's unwillingness to address the obvious corruption of South South News, to which it has given awards and Ban Ki-moon photo ops via its UN Correspondents Association, and whose Ng Lap Seng bought documents from Ban's Secretariat, has become even more clear -- though not in the UN's favored media.
On April 5, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson if the Ng Lap Seng related World Harmony Foundation is, as it appeared, still a member of the UN Global Company, ironically about transparency, six months after the indictment of Ng. From the UN transcript:
Inner City Press: is the World Harmony Foundation, linked to Ng Lap Seng and Frank Liu, still a member of the Global Compact? Because on my computer, it still is. And I'm wondering, since the audit, has the Global Compact taken any steps to make sure that Ng Lap Seng affiliates are not promoting human rights for the UN?
Deputy Spokesman Haq: Certainly, I'll check on whether the World Harmony Foundation is still part of the Global Compact. I'd need to check with the Global Compact office on that.
Haq never returned with an answer, which in context showed what the answer was. When after Haq presided over a three ring circus of obfuscation by UNCA -- now the UN's Censorship Alliance -- board members from Reuters, France 24 and AFP, Inner City Press managed to ask him, did he have an answer on World Harmony Foundation?
In fact he did, though he had not bothered to convey it to Inner City Press and apparently never would have, if not asked again at a noon briefing. The World Harmony Foundation is still a member of the UN Global Compact, six months after the indictment. We'll have more on this.
Even as the Government Accountability Project writes toBan K-moon to protest his Secretariat's "crude and heavy handed" retaliation against Inner City Press for its questions, four honchos of the UN Correspondents Association were allowed by Ban's Office of the Spokesperson on April 6 to use the briefing to directly address Inner City Press, complete with canned applause.
Ban's deputy spokesperson Haq handed the first question to Reuters' Lou Charbonneau, who have been outed secretly lobbying to get Inner City Press out of the UN for not accepting theft of exclusives; he handed it over to a France 24 correspondent then -- see a trend here? - to Agence France Presse.
Finally Haq allowed Charbonneau's reporter Michelle Nichol to make an outright statement to / at Inner City Press, in the briefing, followed by canned applause. Here is a petition of 1,280 people in the real world to Ban to restore what was crudely taken.
On April 4, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric gave the first question and the audit to Reuters bureau chief Louis Charbonneau, to try to take the sting out of this question.
But Reuters has an obvious conflict of interest: it has an essentially permanent seat on the Executive Committee of the UN Correspondents Association, which took South South News' money and gave its funder Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon.
Reuters' story mentioned South South News but did not disclose its connection to the company and scandal. Inner City Press published a story on this - and when Reuters Charbonneau was called on by Dujarric's Deputy Farhan Haq on April 5, Charbonneau's question was whether the South South News revelations - the interconnection with UNCA and Reuters he had not disclosed - would cause or allow the UN to dig into the finances of all accredited media.
Reuters retiree Evelyn Leopold jumped in, any review of media taking bribes? This from a person who routinely says they represent UNCA, which undeniably took Ng's South South News' money and then gave Ng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon.
Because Haq like Dujarric have become, in essence, enforcers from UNCA as when they ordered Inner City Press to not cover an UNCA meeting help on January 29 in the UN Press Briefing Room, Inner City Press held aloft an UNCA "book," a full two page ad spread of which was bought by South South News - before UNCA gave Ng his photo op with Ban Ki-moon.
Haq said to "ask UNCA" -- who? Giampaolo Pioli who rented an apartment to Palitha Kohona and then granted his request as Sri Lanka's Ambassador for a "UN" screening of his goverment's war crimes denial film?
Inner City Press pointed out that Haq and Dujarric give UNCA the first question and otherwise "give them a lot of play" --
UNCA board member Sherwin Bryce Peace of South African Broadcasting, who filmed Inner City Press' physical ouster from the UN on February 19, cut in and say directly to Inner City Press, "You get a lot of play."
Another UNCA board member, Charbonneau's reporter Michelle Nichols, has previously cut off Inner City Press' questions in the UN Press Briefing Room; UNCA board member Carole Landry of AFP cut off Inner City Press' question at the Security Council stakeout about French soldiers' rapes by saying "Journalists first."
The same Reuters-like conflict of interest has now happened with Agence France Presse, on the UNCA Executive Committee in 2011 and now again in 2016.
(Inner City Press quit UNCA and its Executive Committee in 2012, finding the organization or at least how it is run to be corrupt; it co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access, FUNCA. Reuters and AFP have in the past and are currently pushing to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN.)
On April 4, Inner City Press put a series of questions to UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: The scope of the audit had to do with the Sun Kian Ip Foundation and the Global Sustainability Foundation, but the audit mentions South-South News. So, you've been saying, as I've asked you about South-South News, that, when it comes out, you'll decide whether a further scope is needed. What I want to know is, it's become clear, for example, that David Ng, also known as David Ng Lap Seng, was, in fact, the main sponsor of a DPI [Department of Public Information] NGO conference. This was not mentioned in the audit. As we've discussed here, South-South News gave money to UNCA [United Nations Correspondents Association], which, in turn, provided a photo op for Ng Lap Seng with Ban Ki-moon. So, my question is, what now do you say, after this audit is out, about the need for a further audit? And can you comment on the fact that there has been an acknowledgment of receipt by OIOS of a complaint against Cristina Gallach as head of DPI for a variety of matters? And where does it stand, please?
Spokesman: On your second part, no. On your last question…
Inner City Press: No comment or no confirmation?
Spokesman: I have no comment and no confirmation. Or maybe no confirmation is a comment. I'm not confirming, and I'm not commenting. On your other issue, the status of South-South News is being reviewed, is its accreditation here. The audit that was public… that was reported on over the weekend will be made public on 22 April following the standard operating procedures of OIOS, which gives it 30 days between sharing an audit with Member States and releasing it to the public.
Inner City Press: Given that the Global Sustainability Foundation, the things that are in the audit about it, what now can you comment on the fact that, at the founding of the Global Sustainability Foundation in the Delegate's Dining Room, both Ban Ki-moon's spouse and Vijay Nambiar were present? In what capacity were they present? And do they have any comment now that it's become clear that the entity was nothing more than a vehicle for bribery in…
Spokesman Dujarric: I think, as we've told the press, we're obviously concerned at some of the things the audit showed. And if there's… as I mentioned, further action is being taken looking at individual staff members
But is Ban's spouse a staff member, if he isn't?
And the insider media that Dujarric speaks / leaks to --while walking out on Inner City Press' questions -- doesn't ask. In fact, while Reuters has a permanent seat on the board of the UN Correspondents Association, which took South South News' money and gave Ng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon (UNCA's vice president also went to Ng's Macau conference listed in the audit), none of this is disclosed by Reuters. This is a continuing cover up, on which we'll have more.
Inner City Press repeatedly asked Dujarric and UNDP, which has yet to answer, about the i-Pads and involvement in the conference. But there are many more questions not addressed in this whitewash.
And Dujarric and Ban's head "Communications" official Cristina Gallach, who attended Ng's South South Awardsand was questioned by Inner City Press about it, then ordered Inner City Press ousted without due process - nowplan a total eviction of Inner City Press on April 6. This is a cover up, and corrupt.
Last week Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric read out a statement that Ban's “Task Force” report on corruption had been circulated, limited to structural flaws in the Office of the President of the General Assembly.
Inner City Press, facing eviction from the UN for seeking to cover an event by one of Ng's and South South News' fundees, UNCA, in the UN Press Briefing Room, asked why Ban wasn't studying corruption in his own Secretariat.Video here.
On April 1, Inner Cit Press Dujarric this, transcript here:
Inner City Press: I understand that we're waiting to get these audits that you said have been finished released, but in the same way that, that there seems to have been no answer on whether the Secretariat, outside of the audit process, identified who it was in the Secretariat that modified the document of… for the Macau Centre. I wanted to ask you about paragraph 48(H) of the criminal complaint where it talks about, you know, the… the “Kenyan UN Official One” and it describes in great detail… basically, it seems pretty clear the person took money in order to do various things. And it's described as a Kenyan. So, my question is, doesn't seem… there's nothing in the paragraphs before or after that that refer to either Sun Kian Ip Foundation or Global Sustainability Foundation. So, it's something that wouldn't appear to be dealt with by the audits. What is the UN's response to this…
Spokesman: The audits are a first step, and we'll see what comes out of it.
Inner City Press: But if the audits…
Spokesman: I think we have to wait for the audits to be finalized.
Inner City Press: Okay. And when will that… will they come out?
Spokesman: I should have an answer for you later this afternoon.
And yet nothing was provided.
On March 31, Inner City Press asked Dujarric this, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: on corruption, there's a lot of focus has been on Ng Lap Seng, but on the side of it that Sheri Yan and the Global Sustainability Foundation, there's reporting… and I'm going to read to you from a published report. It says, the United Nations has ordered an investigation of Chong… of Chau Chak Wing, the boss of Guangzhou Kinggold Group, which is basically the money behind Sheri Yan that was flowed into the Global Sustainability Foundation, which paid for the slavery memorial at the founding of which Ban Ki-moon's spouse and Mr. Nambiar were present. Is this, in fact, true? Is the UN actually doing more investigation than I'm aware of, or is this report false and you're not investigating…?
Spokesman Dujarric: I haven't seen the report. If you send it to me, as I said, I will look at anything that is shown to me.
Dujarric, whose answers show him closely reading his tweets these days, was sent the quote. Nothing. Nothing at all.
Part of the answer, not given by Dujarric on March 29 or admitted by him on March 30 when Inner City Press asked, was that Ban's personal lawyer Miguel de Serpa Soares was on the "Task Force," one of only three members. On March 30, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about this, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I hadn't seen when you were reading out the task force report on UN PGA office. And upon seeing it, I noticed one of the three members is also Miguel de Serpa Soares, who is… is my understanding, as well as Under-Secretary-General of Legal Affairs, also the counsel to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. So, I wanted to know, given, even though the way it's been structured is this was only a look at the PGA's office, given… when you read the criminal complaint, there are number of references to the Secretariat. How would you respond to those who say, as Ban Ki-moon's lawyer, Mr. Serpa Soares has a legal, ethical duty not to find anything wrong by Ban Ki-moon? He's literally required. It would be unethical for him to say, I have found wrongdoing with the Secretariat.