Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ban Ki-moon Used UN Official As Props For S Korea Run, Spox Leave To Sachs

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow up on Exclusives

UNITED NATIONS, January 4  -- In a new low for the UN, Ban Ki-moon on December 20 held a “closed meeting” in the UN Press Briefing Room, at noon, with only Korean media. When Inner City Press asked Ban's - and now Ban's successor's - spokesman Stephane Dujarric for a transcript, Dujarric refused to provide it. 

 Now while Ban repeatedly said he would not return to South Korea until January 15, he has moved it up to January 12 -- apparently he hadn't realisted the 15th is a Sunday -- used the UN residence and a UN official as props for the announcement.

On January 4, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, tweeted video hereUN transcript here:

 Inner City Press: former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held I guess an impromptu but obviousl, organized press gaggle on the steps of the UN residence on Sutton Place.  And the reporters say that he appeared with Jeffrey Sachs, and he talked about… and Sachs… this is the quote:  “Sachs told reporters he’s willing to provide Ban with advice in the presidential election.”  So, I wanted to know, is Jeffrey Sachs still a UN official?  And if so, is it appropriate to be offering to provide advice during a presidential run?  And, two, how is this… I guess as reporters who have covered Ban Ki-moon for some time, how is the announcement of this use of the UN residence as a campaign prop made, that people didn’t know about it?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, the former Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has moved out of the residence.  He had a couple more days in, just given the realities of moving.  You can’t actually move on New Year’s Day itself because there’s no one who moves you on New Year’s Day, as I’m sure you’re aware.  He has now moved out of that.  And his appearances and his interviews are things for which I cannot speak any longer, since he’s no longer the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Inner City Press:  What about Jeffrey Sachs?  Does he still work for the UN?  And is it appropriate for a UN official to… to say “I am helping this presidential campaign”?

Deputy Spokesman:  I’ll leave it to Mr. Sachs to explain his own actions.

    With all due respect, we're waiting.

   At the UN on January 3, after spokesman Stephane Dujarric refused to provide Ban's net worth in 2007 and now, Inner City Press asked who is keeping Ban's / the UN's record. Only “official records” remain, Dujarric replied, without defining that. He had no comment on the UN bribery Ng Lap Seng case Ban leaves behind. Ban is a censor, and that will be become further known.

Even after all those Korean media present had their change to publish, Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq refused when Inner City Press asked. UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: yesterday, as you know, the room was closed from 11:30 to 12:30.  There were some questions about what was said, and Stéphane [Dujarric] said, wait until you see the coverage.  So now I want to ask you, The Korea Times… this is their headline:  “Ban Ki-moon Declares Bid for South Korean Presidency.”

Deputy Spokesman:  That’s their interpretation, and it’s not one we share.

ICP Question:  Again, I want to ask you then, then can we get a transcript… given that other people use a slight… say, the strongest hint yet, that’s their headline.  So now that things are out and it wouldn’t violate… I guess Stéphane made some reference to journalistic ethics.  Given that everyone that was here while others were excluded has had 24 hours to report it, is there a way to get either an audio, video or a transcript of what was said, actually said in this public UN room?

Deputy Spokesman:  Although this is normally a public UN room, this was used because it was an exceptionally large group interview.  The Secretary-General, towards the end his term, is doing a number of interviews.  Some of them are individual interviews.  Some of them are group interviews.  For example, he did one with the Japanese media a couple days before doing one with the Korean media.  Because of the size of people, we had to use this room as an exception.  But we normally don’t.  But it’s still a group interview.  And you would need to be in touch with those reporters, whether they would want to share their information with you.

ICP Question:  Why not Conference Room 8?  Conference Room 5?  I mean, there are many rooms in the building that you could use, other than this room.

Deputy Spokesman:  There are, but this one was one that we could make available on a short notice.

  The UN transcript typically omitted the person self-identifying as the United Nations Correspondents Association saying “Who cares” as to how the UN Press Briefing Room is used. Easy for the UN Correspondents Association to say - Ban's Stephane Dujarric without paperwork “lent” them the UN Briefing Room and when Inner City Press tried to cover the event, it was ousted and their evicted and ever since restricted. This is censorship.
Video here.

   On December 21 when asked of the UN General Assembly resolution that says former Secretaries General should not be offered or seek government positions, Dujarric had an if-asked answer ready, that the UNGA resolution is not binding. (In the same briefing, Dujarric confirmed Inner City Press' exclusive that the UN in Iraq "lost" 25 guns.See here.)

Inner City Press asked if the other candidates for South Korea's presidency could use the UN and its Press Briefing Room - from which Ban's Dujarric threw Inner City Press out earlier this year -- and Dujarric called it hypothetical.

 From the UN transcript: 

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you first about the use of the room prior to the noon briefing.  I saw a sign, "closed meeting."  It seems clear it was used… or you tell me if it's wrong, but for Korean media exclusively.  I wanted to know, first, can we get a transcript?  Second, was anything said that's relevant to the run for… a possible run for presidency in South Korea by Mr. Ban?   And what are the… what are the… I guess, how is it appropriate?  If you once said that Francois Hollande trying to limit the briefing room to only French journalists was wrong, how is it right in this case?

Spokesman:  Well, obviously, I think during the General Assembly, we try to keep this press room as open as possible.  The press briefing room was used for a group interview by the Secretary-General, because it was the best place to do it, given the size of the number of participants.  We're not in the habits of sharing transcripts of other people's interviews before publication.  That's just an ethical position that we have.

ICP Question:  It said "closed meeting".  When you went to the webcast, it said "Noon Briefing," and then you clicked it, and it said "closed meeting," so is that…

Spokesman:  Well, that's just… it's just a use of the room.  And we just didn't want…

ICP Question:  Why not release the transcript?  I guess I'm saying… can you answer…

Spokesman:  Because as a matter of… at least the journalism I learned, as a matter of basic journalism ethics, we don't release transcripts of other people's interviews before they publish them.

ICP Question:  John Kerry releases… releases… they do it all the time.  I guess my question is, after these… after 24 hours, will you release it?  Just so we can know whether the room was used to campaign for the President of South Korea?

Spokesman:  I think you will read probably soon everything that your colleagues may have written. ...

Inner City Press: if the other named candidates, if they wanted to use UN premises for their press conference, could they…?

Spokesman:  It's a completely hypothetical question.

   The door said “Closed meeting,” unlike on January 29, 2016 when Dujarric came into the room and told Inner City Press to leave, he had “lent” it to a group of journalists. Inner City Press called and calls that a bad precedent, allowing the UN spokesperson to pick and choose which journalists can be in the briefing room.

But for waiting until a guard said to leave, Inner City Press was thrown in the street and had its longtime office evicted, being given to an Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom whose correspondent Sanaa Youssef rarely comes in and never asks a question. (Her claim to space is only that she was long-ago president of the group Dujarric “lent” the UN Press Briefing Room to on January 29).

   The use of “Closed Meeting” for Ban Ki-moon's campaign event on December 20 is an admission that the sign should have been up on January 29. So will Dujarric do the obvious, before spreading this censorship past Ban Ki-moon? We'll see.

  Inner City Press asked Dujarric, since he'd said French President Francois Hollande trying to restrict the briefing room only to French journalists was wrong, why is it OK for Ban Ki-moon? Dujarric answer was that during the General Debate week, he tries to keep the briefing room open. We'll have more on this - and on Ban Ki-moon's mis-use of the UN for his campaign.

In South Korea, Park Geun-hye has now been impeached for extorting tens of millions of dollars from businesses in conspiracy with Choi Soon-sil. And now even while still UN Secretary General, Ban has ratcheted up his criticism of Park, while remaining silent on guilty verdicts against UN system officials. Video here.

While Ban Ki-moon has been presented as a successor or now alternative, his open practice of nepotism while UN Secretary General, and the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery scandal in which Ban's Secretariat sold documents then evicted the Press which asked about it, may hamper Ban's ambitions. Ban's fast "Note" here.

  After evading questions about his nephew Bahn Joohyun a/k/a Dennis Bahn who worked at UN landlord Colliers and is said to have used Ban Ki-moon's name to try to sell real estate, Ban went on this year to promote his own son in law Siddarth Chatterjee to the top UN job in Kenya, without even recusing himself.

  Have candidates Moon Jae-in, Lee Jae-myeung or Ahn Cheol-so done anything like this?

On December 19, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: Secretary-General, after his press conference here on Friday, he spoke at CFR (Council on Foreign Relations), and it's… it's described in The Korea Herald as… as… as ratcheting up criticism of President Park [Geun-hye].  So I wanted to ask for your response to it.  Basically, it says… it has quotes that I… that the South Korean people are very much frustrated and angry about the complete lack of good governance.  They believe the trust and leadership of the country was betrayed.  So is this… is it accurate to call this a ratcheting up of criticism of President Park?

Spokesman:  The analysis I leave up to you and members of the media.

ICP Question:  Right.  Here's a question.  Do you have any… so a related question.  Today, the head of the IMF (International Monetary Fund), Christine Lagarde, was found guilty of misuse of public funds.  Do you have any… does the Secretary-General have any comment on a UN international system figure being found guilty of misuse of funds?

Spokesman:  Not at this time.  I just saw the story as I was walking in here.

  Hours later, no comment.
On D

   Add to this Ban's brother Ki-ho mining in war zones in Myanmar, after being reported by a Myanmar government website as being linked to a “UN delegation” to the country, and the three strikes and you're out threshold has been reached. 

But there's more! There are sisters Ban Jeong-ran and Ban Gyeong-hee a/k/a Ban Kyung-hee and younger brother Ban Ki-sang, Dennis' father: “Ban Ki-sang, his father and younger brother of the UN secretary-general, worked for Keangnam Enterprises as a senior adviser for seven years and is known to have recommended the construction company appoint Colliers International as the exclusive agency for the building’s sale in 2013.” We'll have more on this.