UN, First of the “Giants of Asia” Says Goh Chok Tong, Not Planned Third
Giant Ban Ki-moon,
Was US S-G Choice
August 12 -- That the third in the
series “Giants of Asia”
by Tom Plate is slated to be UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was
disclosed several times on August 10. But Mr. Ban's spokesman Martin
Nesirky, when Inner City Press at the UN's August 11 noon briefing
asked for the confirmation and rationale, said “let me find out.”
Seven hours later, in person and in the UN transcript, Nesirky
provided no information.
“Giant of Asia,” Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, reveals that the
United States' first choice to replace Kofi Annan as Secretary
General in 2006 was another former Singaporean prime minister, Goh
Chok Tong, and that Ban traveled to Singapore specifically to make
sure he stayed out of the race.
quotes LKY, as he calls him, that
Bush administration... began sounding out Singapore about the
possible availability of Goh Chok Tong...far and away America's first
choice for the position to replace Annan. So I am in Korea and South
Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon knew that the Americans were
supporting Goh Chok Tong for the job... Ban Ki-moon invited me to a
lunch, gave me a swank lunch and said, is your colleague running for
it? I said, no. He said, are you sure? I said, absolutely. He said,
why? I said, it is not a job that he is fitted for.
Ban came to Singapore to see Goh Chok Tong. And Goh Chok Tong
confirmed that he was not running for the UN job. So, he know that I
am a straight talker. And then Ban announces and he runs. He gets the
job. He gets the job because the Americans decided to back him, and
the Chinese also backed him, and that was that.”
Permanent Representative to the UN Vanu Gopala Menon, given
the attendance list at the VIP book party he hosted on August 10,
diplomatically insisted that Singapore had never formally had a
candidate who opposed Mr. Ban.
account, presented as true
by Tom Plate who now plans to do a similar “Giants of Asia” book
with Ban Ki-moon, raises many questions.
continue to explore these questions, and Plate's first “Giants of
Asia” book, once Ban's spokespeople belatedly confirm that Ban
leaped at the chance to be portrayed as the third of the “Giants of
Ban Ki-moon and Goh Chok Tong in Istana: birth of
Giant not shown
the August 10
book party, Plate said he would profile the Dai Lama if and only if
mainland China made it clear none of their leaders would participate.
Thus, a major qualification for being among Plate's “Giants of
Asia” is simply the willingness to spend days talking to Plate.
Why would Ban
consent to such a use of time, and UN credibility? As one senior
diplomat, well placed at the UN and on August 10, asked Inner City
Press late on August 11, after reading the first
article in this
series, “Ban's remaining claim to leadership is humility. This
totally contradicts that.”
of the UN's August 11 noon briefing:
Press: I wanted you to confirm that the Secretary-General has
consented and is going forward as the subject of the third in a
series called Giants of Asia, by author Tom Plate. He said that he
is writing a series of great leaders of Asia. He began with
Singapore’s leader, Malaysia’s, and that the third will be the
Secretary-General, and I wanted to know… to confirm that is the
case and how much time it will take, when it will take place and what
factors he thought going into it. It seems pretty extensive; from
having heard Mr. Plate speak last night it seems like it’s a very
one-on-one, extremely… what’s the benefit to the UN system of
such a profile?
Let me find out.
To Be 3rd "Giant of Asia" by Tom Plate, Lee Kuan Yew's Confidante on
Sri Lankan "Ethnic Cleansing"
Russell Lee, Exclusive
August 11 -- Starting with a 200 page book of “Conversations
with Lee Kuan Yew,” the get-things-done founder of modern
Singapore, American author Tom Plate is engaged in a Giants of Asia
trilogy. The next in the series is Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia.
The third Giant of Asia, Plate said at a VIP book party on August 10,
will be UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
audience including the Permanent Representatives to the UN of
Vietnam, Costa Rica, The Netherlands and of course Singapore, which
hosted to event, that in his experience Asian leaders are more
concerned about community rights than individual or human rights.
rhetorically, do you want to solve the problem of drug gangs in Los
Angeles? Give Lee Kuan Yew $10 billion, and look away for 18 months.
Come back and it will be solved.
audience wondered what might happen during those 18 months, from the
leader who instituted caning for the mis disposal or even chewing of
gum. A professor in the audience asked about the balance between
development and human rights.
that while to the “Western” mind, publicly punishing the wrong
person in order to send a message to others might violate due
process, to Lee Kuan Yew and presumably the other Giants of Asia, the
calculus is not so simple.
mis-punishment helps the community
at large, it might on balance be a good thing, Plate said.
invited without conditions to the event but then asked to not mention
at least one of the attendees, asked Plate if he would consider
interviewing some of the more openly authoritarian strong men of
Asia, including Than Shwe of Myanmar and Kim Jong-Il of the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
if asked to go to Pyongyang and given access to Kim Jong-Il, he would
be on the next plane. He said that he doubted Than Shwe, at 76, could
endure the type of multi-day interview process which he engaged in
with Lee Kuan Yew.
how a sitting Secretary General, embroiled in a management scandal
triggered most recently by the damning End of Assignment Report of
outgoing lead UN investigator Inga Britt Ahlenius, will have time to
sit for this Giants of Asia profile.
the concerns, there seem to have been a belated request
not to publicize the identity of Plate's third Giant of Asia until
after Mr. Ban's second term is more secure. But, one skeptic in the
audience asked, is the problem here really the publicity or the vanity
UN's Ban Depicted in Sri Lanka: Giant of Asia?
first heard of Plate's book when a section about Sri Lanka was
circulated, largely by the Tamil diaspora. Lee Kwan Yew is quoted on
page 55 saying the
is Sri Lanka. It is not a happy, united country. Yes, they [the
majority Sinhalese government] have beaten the Tamil Tigers this
time, but the Sinhalese who are less capable are putting down a
minority of Jaffna Tamils who are more capable. They were squeezing
them out. That's why the Tamils rebelled. But I do not see them
ethnic cleansing all two million plus Jaffna Tamils. The Jaffna
Tamils have been in Sri Lanka as long as the Sinhalese...[referring
to Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaksa] 'I've read his speeches
and I knew he was a Sinhalese extremist. I cannot change his mind.'”
about this section of the book, and said that it was difficult to
keep it in. Afterward, Inner City Press asked Plate to explain: who
had wanted the section to come out? Of all that he said Tuesday
night, this was the only time that Plate asked to go off the record.
We will respect that, just as we'll respect the request to omit the
presence of at least one individual and entourage.
to the UN, its Permanent Representative Vanu Gopala Menon,
his Deputy, wife and staff are to be commended for hosting such an
eclectic crowd, and serving afterward such good food, including the
Indian paratha bread renamed roti --
and tinged with coconut -- when
it arrived in Lee Kuan Yew's giant laboratory in one of the smallest
advocates among the attendees, including the son of the plaintiff in
a recent free speech case in the U.S. Supreme Court. Some wondered at
the irony of Ban Ki-moon, who long delayed naming, and still has not
begun, a panel about accountability for civilian deaths in Sri Lanka
in 2009, choosing as his conversational biographer the writer who
coaxed the above quoted analysis of ethnic cleansing and Sinhalese
extremism in Sri Lanka, to the level of the president.
will have more
on this and on the rest of Plate's illuminating talk, including his
and Lee Kuan Yew's views of the UN and the ways in which its
Secretary General are elected and, at times, re-elected. The
interplay of Ban's drive for re-election and his participation as
Plate's third “Giant of Asia” will also be explored.