Friday, December 23, 2005

Surakiart for UN Sec Gen -- Should we quit?

Source: The Nation
Author: Suwat
Date: 22 Dec 2548 20:14

Dear All;
Please check out the article below. Your tax baht at work. The Thai Ambassador to Washington has suggested that Surakiart Sathirathai's campaign to be the next UN Sec Gen was a waste of our tax baht. What do you think? (see The Nation's report below)

REPLACING KOFI ANNAN

Abandon UN race, Bangkok advised
Published on December 22, 2005

Embassy in US urged govt to end bid in Sept, citing ‘unresponsive’ Washington. Thailand should withdraw Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai’s candidacy for the post of UN secretary-general, the Thai Embassy in Washington recently advised the Foreign Ministry.

The embassy suggested the longer Thailand waited to exit the campaign, the greater the political damage it faced.

In a telex obtained by The Nation yesterday, the Foreign Ministry was advised that Surakiart’s bid to replace outgoing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was in doubt, because the US did not support it.

The telex said the current and previous US secretaries of state appeared “unresponsive” to Thailand’s fielding of Surakiart and that it was “not too late” to withdraw his candidacy.

The telex said it would not be “embarrassing” to withdraw Surakiart’s candidacy at this time, but suggested a tactical withdrawal sooner rather than later.

The telex, dated September 30, 2005, and signed by then Thai ambassador to Washington Kasit Piromya, said US President George W Bush had implied Surakiart was not “a brand name” and “unmarketable” in the areas of human rights, democracy and leadership.

Support by the US is important for any candidate, since Washington, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, has the right to veto.

Surakiart claims to have the support of China and Russia, two of the five permanent members.

The telex said neither Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or her predecessor Colin Powell had ever paid much attention to Surakiart’s candidacy.

In fact, they had been “unresponsive” and “unexcited” about Thailand’s bid to have its deputy prime minister replace Annan, the telex said.

The government was urged to assess Surakiart’s candidacy honestly, without bias or personal ambition, because the country had more important things to do with its money than spend it on Surakiart’s campaign.

It appears the Thai Embassy in Washington based its assessment on a series of dialogues between Thaksin and US President George W Bush, and Surakiart and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as well as lower-level discussions between Thai officials and their American counterparts.

The telex also pointed out that Rumsfeld did not appear satisfied with Surakiart’s answer when asked what kind of platform the Thai candidate was running on. Instead of explaining what he had in mind for UN reforms, Surakiart spoke of the importance of the US role in the world body, the telex said.

Former ambassador Kasit made headlines earlier this year when he turned down a proposal to hire a lobbying firm with ties to US Vice President Dick Cheney, reportedly at a price of Bt1.5 million a month, to help win US support for Surakiart.

Kasit, who recently retired from the foreign service, reportedly suggested Thailand use Clark Consultants to campaign for Surakiart, a firm then working on the Thai-US Free Trade Agreement.

A senior official at the Foreign Ministry said it remained government policy to mobilise all national resources necessary to help Surakiart snare the UN’s top job.

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