Ban's UN, Retraction Demand about Nationality and Staffing Raises Questions
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, May
16, updated May 23 -- This is the story of a question about the UN that was asked, that got mis-answered
and then repeated in writing, and is now being retracted, upon public request of
Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson.
rarity at the UN of such public requests for correction or amplification -- in
this case, read out from a script during Tuesday noon press briefing -- it is
believed that this nitty-gritty narrative may shed light on today's United
noon briefing on Monday, during a question-and-answer concerning whether policy
discussion on the UN's 38th floor are sometimes held in Korean, Inner City Press
asked, "if you could find out or confirm that a guy called Dae-young Park, who'd
been an auditor with OIOS, has now been transferred to the Office of the
Secretary General on the 38th floor." OIOS is the acronym for the UN's Office of
Internal Oversight Services.
get the information for you on the make-up of the 38th floor," the Spokesperson
replied. Since the
UN's transcript differs
from what was actually said, and then was amended to add an answer that was
never provided to Inner City Press, click
for video, from Minute 14:46.
the statement that "information... on the make-up of the 38th floor" would be
provided, none was. Rather, Inner City Press witnessed in the UN's 3rd floor
hallway Choi Soung-ah of Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's Office telling another
reporter that there was only one professional staff member from South Korea on
the 38th floor, and then amending that to the number five.
for questions -- but only if they like them, some say
later on Monday, Inner City Press checked the
of the noon briefing, and saw an answer appended in brackets: "The Spokesperson
later added that Ms. Do-yun Park, who worked for the Department of Management,
had not been transferred to the 38th floor and had been a United Nations staff
member since before the current Secretary-Generalís arrival."
the use of Ms., Inner City Press included in its third article of the day
a reiteration of the question:
"As the word 'fellow' connotes, Inner
City Press was not referring to a female, Ms. Do-yun Park, but rather MISTER
Daeyoung Park, described as an auditor at OIOS promoted from P-3 to P-4 and then
assigned to the Office of the Secretary General. Inquiry will continue. But the
promised organ-o-gram has not been produced."
why Inner City Press was aware of and was asking about Daeyoung Park,
who was involved in the OIOS audit leading to the indictment and trial of UN
procurement official Sanjay Bahel, and also accusing one Walter Cabrera of
irregularities in eight contracts, see below.
Tuesday morning, while passing through the Spokesperson's Office to get press
releases and on the way to cover the Security Council's proceedings on Bosnia,
Inner City Press saw Ms. Choi and others in the Spokesperson's Office. Nothing
during Tuesday's noon briefing, once Inner City Press asked a question about
whether Ban Ki-moon has received a protest letter from the Afghan foreign
ministry and his response, Spokesperson Michele Montas said "we don't have
anything other than what I gave you yesterday on the violence. I have nothing
new on Pakistan." (In fact, the Spokesperson's Office had said nothing at the
previous day's briefing about either Pakistan or Afghanistan, click
for the transcript, and click
today's Inner City Press story on the issue.)
this non-response on Pakistan, Ms. Montas consulted her notes and read out
"since you ask a question, I find it very
unfortunate that inaccurate facts are printed without being properly verified.
You asked yesterday about United Nations professional working for OIOS and who
happens to be South Korean. Without verifying the facts, you stated that he had
been assigned to the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. This is flatly
wrong. Mr. Dae-young [Do-yun?] Park, if this is the person you're talking about,
that you're referring to, is employed by OIOS and will go on sabbatical in
mid-July in order to pursue an advance degree in public administration. He never
had any plans to apply for a position in the Executive Office."
City Press acknowledged this public statement, and asked if the list of five
that Ms. Choi has mentioned could be provided. Video
from Minute 12:12. Ms. Montas said to come to her office after the briefing.
Under Secretary General for Management Alicia Barcena's
responses to numerous questions,
including five from Inner City Press (the last of which concerned when the UN
will finally have a Freedom of Information mechanism, whereby information is
provided without pleading, but as of right), Inner City Press went to speak with
Ms. Montas. The phrase "mea culpa" was used, although Inner City Press also
asked why Monday's putative response, about the wrong Park, had not been
provided by email so that the matter might have been addressed before deadline.
Why was the response only appended post-facto to the
and, it seemed, said over the UN's squawk-box system?
City Press was told that the response hadn't even been "squawked," since no one
else was interested in it. Other correspondents are interested in issues, Inner
City Press was told, and not in names of staff members. But how could one report
on these management issues without using names? The question was not answered.
of five names, three were provided, handwritten:
-Kim, Won-soo ASG
-Yoon, Yeocheol Chief of scheduling, D1
-Lee, Sang-hwa P4 - first officer,
came into the office. She stated that five people, herself included, had come
over with the transition, and she named journalists who she said knew all five.
Who then is the fifth, Inner City Press asked. A person in the Department of
Management, Ms. Choi said, and declined to provide the name, stating that he has
nothing to do with the Executive Officer. Ms. Choi berated Inner City Press for
not verifying facts. How else to do so, but to ask questions?
said, "Who told you this lie? Give me that name then I'll...".
City Press pointed out that the name was provided by a source still employed by
the UN, a whistleblower by any standard definition. Inner City Press declined to
provide the name. It was indicated to Inner City Press that Mr. Park Dae-young
had been treated unfairly by the question.
City Press was made aware of Mr. Park Dae-young by a source who, besides
maintaining even Tuesday afternoon that some sort of transfer or "loan" occurred
one month into Mr. Ban's tenure, also provided a series of e-mails to and from
OIOS chief Inga-Britt Ahlenius, concerning among other things Mr. Park Dae-young
(identified in the e-mails as "Daeyoung Park").
February 6, 2006 e-mail to Ms. Ahlenius and others, including OHRM head Jan
Beagle and then-38th floor denizen Lamine Sise, Mr. Walter Cabrera took issue
with the initial final version of an OIOS audit of peacekeeping, stating that
"the audit reports that were prepared by
your staff originally in September 2004 (AP2004/600/14) and later rehashed and
reissued in 2005/2006 (AP2005/600/20) contain patently false information about
my alleged involvement in the five contact awards to vendor TCIL. The fact that
the information was false was full known to the principal auditor-in-charge, Mr.
Daeyoung Park." [We will have more on this.]
Tuesday afternoon, Inner City Press managed to speak with Mr. Park Dae-young.
Among other things, Mr. Park stated of the above-cited peacekeeping audit(s), "I
worked on the case." He declined to answer further questions about the cases,
including the above-quoted, perhaps understandably but despite Ban Ki-moon's
statements that UN staff members are encourage to speak with the press on
matters within their scope of expertise.
12, 2006, Ms. Ahlenius responded to Mr. Cabrera with copies to among others Ms.
Beagle, Mr. Sise and "redesignpanel [at] un.org," stating that "OIOS recognizes
that the working of paragraph 91 of the Comprehensive Management Review of DPKO
- Procurement is incorrect."
more to report on this matter, which extends beyond but certainly involves Mr.
Park Dae-young. Several correspondents have wondered aloud about the motive of
Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's Office public rebuke, contrasting it with times
with the Office simply e-mails clarifications to correspondents, or as recently
happened says nothing in the face of obvious mis-quotations. Staying entirely
factual, Inner City Press notes that the only other time this Office, again via
Ms. Choi, vehemently critiqued an online article was
when the question concerned funding that
passed to North Korea through the South Korean foreign ministry during Mr. Ban's
time there. The moral of the
story, for now, might be that disparate treatment and selective outrage, rather
than discouraging coverage, might tend to multiply the questions...
Update of May 23,
2007 -- a week after declining to provide the name, on Wednesday evening
Associate UN Spokesperson Choi Soung-ah wrote to Inner City Press that
Secretary-General brought five Koreans with him to the Secretariat. The five
were with him during the transition period as well. Of the five, three are on
the 38th floor as you have previously been informed, myself (you know who I am)
assigned to the Spokesperson's office, and Mr. Kweon Ki-hwan assigned to the
Office of the Under-Secretary General for Management."
Along with thanking Ms. Choi for this response, how
ever belated, Inner City Press has asked among other things, "what post
in the UN Department of Management was
Kweon Ki-hwan put into, and what process was followed to put him in this
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