By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 28 -- Ban Ki-moon ceases to be UN Secretary General on December 31 at midnight and will at that moment lose his immunity and, it was supposed to be, his UN perks including free housing.
But in typical Ban Ki-moon fashion, Ban will in fact stay on in the UN townhouse on Sutton Place, at least until January 3, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press as the last question at the December 23 noon briefing.
Now amid questions not only about nepotism including his nephew Dennis Bahn working for the UN's landlord on 45th Street Colliers International but about receiving $30,000 in cash at a New York restaurant while UN Secretary General, Ban is trying to keep the Press out of his meeting in the UN with New York City Council and Congress members.
The event, set for 11 am on December 28 in UN Conference Room 8, was listed by Ban's in-house state media UN Television, then on Ban's “public” schedule. But it was not listed as a media opportunity. Inner City Press was told that it was initially open - then deemed “closed.” Why? To avoid the corruption questions Ban's taxpayer funded spokesperson's office has refused to answer?
Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access made a formal request that Ban's “remarks” to NYC Council and Congress members be open. Watch this site.
When Inner City Press asked a follow up, in writing, on the morning of December 27 when Ban's spokesperson's office while paid held no briefing, no answer was given five hours later. The questions asked included:
“Please explain why Ban Ki-moon is not moving out of the UN resident when his term expires and any financial arrangements made to reimburse the UN / taxpayers including for any security. Please state if Ban Ki-moon now expects to meet with the US President-elect before Ban returns to South Korea on January 15 and if not, why not. Regarding December 31, please describe how the Secretary General pushing the button to start the year-end countdown came about, including any role of the NYC Office of International Affairs.”
No answer. This has been Ban's era: arrogance, censorship, entitlement. But at long last, an end to impunity - which Ban misused on his UN having brought cholera to Haiti, and in the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case.
Following the election of Trump on November 8-9 UN high officials, one of them told Inner City Press on November 14, “have been freaking out. They don't know how much is going to be cut, and from where.”
In this context, and as he still dreams of running for South Korea president, Ban Ki-moon trumped up his “few minutes” phone call with President-Elect (PEOTUS) Trump into one in which he raised “many issues” -- but not, Ban's spokesperson's office told Inner City Press, Yemen.
Then, with no further communication with Trump, Ban turn this into a commitment or plan to have a face to face meeting. They are both in New York, Ban's spokesperson said coyly.
South Korea's Arirang TV, which has bragged loudly how it got included on the “UN in-house channel” by the UN Department of Public Information's Cristina Gallach, who also evicted and restricts Inner City Press for Ban.
Many larger countries are NOT represented in the UN's EZTV list of channels; critical media once evicted as Inner City Press was by Ban and Gallach no longer have access to it anyway.
But here is a compilation of Arirang overplaying Ban and Trump, Gallach and her UN Censorship Alliance partner - 31 year resident correspondent Giampaolo Pioli lavishing praise on Arirang, even that is is among UN in-house networks Top Four must-see TV.
This is false advertising. We'll have more on this.
And on that UN high officials, one of them told Inner City Press on November 14, “have been freaking out. They don't know how much is going to be cut, and from where.”
Here's a suggestion, based not only on Inner City Press' personal experience at the UN (NYT here) but interviews with staff, diplomats and elected officials: if there is one UN Department to be cut, even eliminated, it is the Department of Public Information (DPI).
Since Cristina Gallach of Spain took DPI over, as Ban Ki-moon's attempt to ingratiate himself to Spain during its now-ending UN Security Council term, it has not only evicted the investigative Press without any due process or appeal, it has most recent named as the UN's gender empowerment ambassador not an actual person but rather a cartoon character, Wonder Woman.
Gallach, after not consulting with staff or even the top of UN Women, ignored the staff and mission protest to her ceremony promoting a forthcoming movie.
In terms of outright corruption, even the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng ongoing bribery case found that Gallach did no due diligence of at least two Ng Lap Seng funded events in the UN, including involving the UN's slavery memorial.
Three strikes and you're out. Further, why does the UN need its own propaganda arm? It debilitates UN officials to think they can avoid the actual Press and do softball “interviews” with the UN's own media. There are some good people in DPI, and not only they but some of their functions could find homes in other Departments. But as of today, and in the near future, the UN Department of Public Information should be cut. We'll have more on this.
As Antonio Guterres prepares to take over as UN Secretary Gen