Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ban Ki-moon Won't Comment on South Korea Term Limit Proposal, Or Claim in Reuters of “First”

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow up on Exclusives

UNITED NATIONS, October 24  -- What has Ban Ki-moon turned the UN into, as he seeks to run for President of South Korea?

Since October 14, Ban Ki-moon has refused to make public the speech he gave on October 14 before the Council of Korean Americans, which sought $100,000 sponsorships to hear Ban speak. On October 21, even as UN staff protested Ban's lack of judgment in naming a cartoon character, Wonder Woman, a UN ambassador, Ban made public to Reuters not this speech but his ambition to be president of South Korea. Reuters did not ask about the day's protest, much less the “private” speech.

Reuters “reported” that “Ban said it was the first time he had spoken publicly about his future beyond the United Nations.” So what was new, given that Ban held a 20 minute public “photo op” with South Korea legislators, with Korean media (and Inner City Press) present?

  At the October 24 noon briefing, Inner City Press put the question to Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric who was present at the 20 minute photo op, even told the Department of Public Information to break from its stated rules and allow Korean print-only reporters up to witness Ban's announcement.

  Dujarric repeatedly cut off the question, not allowing Inner City Press to a related follow up. Later he said it's not for Ban to comment on any changes to allow an additional presidential term -- precisely an issue at stake in Burundi. From the UN transcript: 

Inner City Press: on Friday he gave an interview to Reuters in which he said… it's said that he said it was the first time he publicly said he's returning to South Korea in mid-January and exploring how he could help the country.  I think you were there when he met publicly with the […] legislators and said the same thing.  But I wanted to know, how do you view this interview?  Is this him announcing… it's been portrayed as him saying… implying strongly he's running.  What was first about the thing?  And does he have any response…

Spokesman:  I think you'd have to ask the…

ICP Question:  I haven't…

Spokesman:  …the journalists why they interpreted it the way they did.  I think the Secretary-General has made no secret that he will return to Korea, and he will decide whatever his next move is once he returns.  There is really… you will have… that's not a question directed to me.  I think it's a question directed to journalists…

ICP Question:  What's the position on term limits?

 ICP Q: just to finish this South Korea question, does the Secretary-General have any view on the announced plan by President Park Geun-hye to extend… to two limits, to…

Spokesman:  It's not for the Secretary-General to have an opinion on this plan.

Question:  Right.  But he's commented on other…

Spokesman:  I'm just… you've asked me a question.  I've answered it.

To this low has Ban brought the UN. We'll have more on this.

  At the October 21 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric again for a copy of the speech - next question, Dujarric said - and about the Wonder Woman fiasco.

   What will Ban's platform be? At the UN, he he give the top job in Kenya to his own son in law, without recusing himself. He has allowed his mentor Han Seung-soo to be a UN official while on the boards of directors of Doosan and of Standard Chartered bank, which has UN contracts. He has evicted the Press which has asked about his nepotism throughout his tenure. See here. So: corruption, nepotism and censorship? We'll have more on this.

On October 17, Inner City Press asked Ban's outgoing spokesman Stephane Dujarric why his office had not made available Ban's speech in Washington DC on October 14 to the Council of Korean-Americans but had widely emailed out Ban's speech the same day while getting another honorary degree in Maryland.

    Dujarric replied, with characteristic defensiveness, that Ban's Friday evening speech at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in DC was private. Vine video here. On October 18 when Inner City Press followed up and asked how much was charged or sought to hear Ban, Dujarric said to ask the organizers.

  Well, the Council of Korean Americans began promoting Ban's attendance, as UN Secretary General, as early as August - and sought $100,000 “platinum” sponsorships. Here's a tweet from September.

Here is the $100,000 pitch.

  Is this ethical? Separately, did Ban get any UN Ethics Office opinion on this? Inner City Press asked these questions and more on October 20; Dujarric said to... ask the Ethics Office. Isn't he the UN spokesman?

He separately refused to say how much the outside counsel Ban's UN has hired in connection with the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case (in which Ban's Secretariat changed a General Assembly document to insert the name of Ng Lap Seng's company) is paid, and from which budget line or slush fund. The lawyer's firm does not have an active contract in the UN Procurement database. 

Earlier in the day the UN's own Special Rapporteur David Kaye published his report, which included his and Rapporteur Michel Forst's letter asking Gallach why she evicted Inner City Press, and her belated response that Inner City Press has “trespassed” in the UN Press Briefing Room.
   But a UN Secretary General allowing his image and the UN flag to be used to raise $100,000 sponsorships - is it ethical? Inner City Press asked Dujarric, wouldn't it be fair at least to infer Ban supports the views of the group he let charge $100,000 for him / the UN? Dujarric said no: but why?

   We'll have more on the group's views, including on matter on the agenda of the UN Security Council. Watch this site.

 Inner City Press asked how much UN -- including Haitian aid -- money was spent on Ban's “private” campaign speech. Dujarric did not answer, turning to other correspondents (about Wonder Woman, another low point under Ban and his should-be-outgoing head of “Public Information” Cristina Gallach).

 On October 18, Inner City Press asked again, if money was charged.Video here. UN transcript: 

Inner City Press: You'd said that Ban Ki-moon's speech on Friday in Washington to the Council of Korean-Americans at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center was somehow a private appearance, but I've seen pictures of it.  He was in a tuxedo with a big screen behind him, and the media was present.  So, I'm left… I guess what I wonder is, what do you mean by "private"?  Was it open only to some media?  What… was…

Spokesman:  You'd have to ask the organizers.

Inner City Press:  But, if he spent… the money question is this… if it was a private…

Spokesman:  He was in Washington for a UN-related event, and he participated in a… in this event organized by this foundation, which was considered a private event.

ICP Question:  Was money charged to attend it?

Spokesman:  You'd have to ask the organizers.

ICP Question:  Would that be against UN rules?

Spokesman:  The Secretary-General and others appear sometimes in dinners where money is charged.

We'll have more on this.

   The Council of Korean-American's speech was covered with headlines like “Ban Ki-moon defends leadership to counter Western media’s criticism.” Ban's defense, it seems, is merely “personal” - in a parallel fictitious universe like Wonder Woman. Watch this site.

On October 77, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here

Inner City Press: there's been a number of media outlets in South Korea that have quoted former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil, who has met with Ban Ki-moon and is viewed as a supporter and ally.  He has been quoted on the record saying Ban Ki-moon has made up his mind and is running for president.  So I wanted to know, when's the last time the Secretary-General spoke with Mr. Kim Jong-pil?  Because it becomes important to know to assess the credibility of his statement of Mr. Ban's intentions.

Deputy Spokesman:  On this, as we have made very clear, the Secretary-General has spoken, he is going to work as Secretary-General and continue to concentrate his energies on being Secretary-General of the United Nations until the end of his mandate.  He'll make his decision after that.

Question:  Right.  So he's wrong.  So his ally is not…

Deputy Spokesman:  That is what the Secretary-General has said.  Have a good weekend, everyone.

On October 3 Inner City Press asked Haq about a political party's offer to Ban, UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: there was a proposal today, or a law proposed and announced by the Saenuri Party in South Korea, which would provide, quote, privileges or benefits to the Secretary-General when he leaves here, which would include a bodyguard, office, security, secretary.  And so some have raised… is there any provision for this?  Is this consistent with UN ethics rules in terms of a country offering these things to a sitting UN official?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding that, you'd have to ask the officials in South Korea what their arrangements are.  This is… obviously, the Secretary-General doesn't accept these favours in his time as Secretary-General.  I wouldn't have any comment on his post-Secretary-General career.

  On September 30, a concert in the UN pitched as only about South Korea's 25th anniversary at a UN member was converted into an event for Ban Ki-moon's legacy.

Oh Joon, who has spoken about Ban and South Korea's presidency, was there, as was Ban's male personal assistant and his spouse (but not Ms Eun Ha Kim.) UN officials Adlerstein and Dieng, Ombudsman and successor candidate Helen Clark were there. Some Ambassadors showed up at the top and then left; Kazakhstan, we note, stuck it out.

The music was great - but, it was disclosed, paid for by investment bank G C Andersen. Ban cited Han Seung-soo, who he's let be a UN official while on the boards of directors of Doosan and Standard Chartered Bank. (Inner City Press asked the new President of the General Asssembly about this on September 30, here).

  Ban's nepotism has come to the fore, but his polling is up, and he'd headed on the road. We will cover it, watch this site.