Archive for the ‘Goh’ Category

Fallout from the Straw Poll

July 26, 2006

Well, the first straw poll has occurred. It has raised several questions and ended several questions. Let’s consider some:

Is the race over? Ban Ki-moon got 12 “encouraging” votes and one discouraging. We don’t know if that one was from Japan (highly likely) or from a P5 country. If Japan, the game is essentially over. It is unlikely that we will find a candidate with more support.

Will candidates drop out and more enter? There is a distinct possibility, which Bolton raised in his press briefing:

the various candidates consider what the votes were compared with what
they received there may now be decisions either for additional
candidates to enter the race or for one or more candidates in the race
to drop out.

But who? Sathirathai and ASEAN have been quite vocal that he will stay in the race. There has been little activity from Dhanapala. Either one of them dropping out raises the possibility of new candidates emerging. Indeed, one Australian article has characterized this as “Goh’s chance”, if only Sathirathai were to leave the race. Later, a Thai paper, reporting from the ASEAN Ministerial, reported that “The Singaporean government had informed the five permanent members of the Security Council that former prime minister Goh Chok Tong would not run for the post”. And Dhanapala’s leaving might just result in a Deva candidacy. Not to mention the other array of candidates.

What happens next? Dhanapala will regroup or drop out. Sathirathai will “campaign harder”. Ban and Shashi really have their work cut out for them. Because of Ban’s success on the first ballot, Shashi will need to resolve any of his structural problems. It is certainly possible to have a 13-2 versus 13-2 deadlock or somesuch, requiring other candidates to emerge. Finally, new information could emerge. We still have strong concerns about Ban, which may yet come to the fore.

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The Debate on Deva and the Goh-Deva Strategy

July 21, 2006

There is a quite amusing debate emerging on the candidacy of Niranjan Deva-Aditya over at UNSG. Apparently one of Deva’s Sri Lankan supporters put up an over-enthusiastic website in Sri Lanka, getting some of the details wrong. UNSG pointed out some of these flaws. The Deva campaign clarified.

The interesting questions are, of course:

First, will Deva get nominated? The press release posted on UNSG seems to suggest that they think it is a real possibility. There was also a recent article in the gossip section of a British magazine lists specific countries who support him. What to make of this? Of course, without a formal nomination, from Sri Lanka or another country, it is impossible for him to be a candidate.

Second, Mr. Fleming, over at UNSG argues that there is a “long shot” way for Deva to emerge as a candidate:

“Deva does have one (long) shot. If the straw polls to be taken this month reveal low support for Dhanapala, …”

This is, of course, also the Goh strategy vis-a-vis ASEAN. It goes like this:

  1. The first straw poll happens. Sathirathai’s support is vanishingly small. (as our sources in New York indicate is the case)
  2. ASEAN tries to push Sathirathai out and submits Goh’s name. If that fails, supporters in other countries do this anyways.
  3. At this point, the debate is reconfigured and real compromise can take place.

For this to work for Deva, Dhanapala will have to fail on the first straw poll, which we fully expect. If Dhanapala is taken seriously a week from now, then Deva would have little basis for continuing.

The lesson here in these strategies is that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It is our analysis that the Goh-Deva strategy is viable and that none of the 4 currently nominated candidates will have job on Secretary General on January 1st. But we could be proven wrong next week when the first straw poll happens.

Goh exploring candidacy?

June 22, 2006

The Indian press is reporting that Singapore's former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is considering running for UNSG:

MEA Sources told TIMES NOW that Tong is very keen to contest, but will not do so till he is assured of the support of at least 3 of 5 UNSC permanent members.

Hectic lobbying is on in Singapore to see that Tong wins the support he will need to propel him through. If Tong does enter the fray, it could spell big trouble for Tharoor's candidature.

This strikes us as further evidence that Sathirathai and Ban Ki-moon have hit a brick wall. In addition Mumbai's Daily News and Analysis reports that Goh may be backed by the UK:

Goh’s name has started cropping up after India announced Tharoor’s candidature, and his backers here see it as an attempt to block India’s nominee. They are particularly disturbed by reports that suggest the UK is actively backing Goh. China, which could be the spoiler for Tharoor, has maintained a strategic silence so far, saying only that the secretary general’s post should go to an Asian this time. The MEA feels that if China sees an Asian consensus emerging on Goh, it would back him. Certainly, China would prefer to see a Singaporean in the secretary general’s post, rather than an Indian.

There are also a number of very interesting comments in that article:

The Thai nominee, deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, has ASEAN backing but the permanent five nations are reluctant to support him as UN secretary general because a Thai already holds a top UN post. Supachai Panitchpakdi is secretary general of UNCTAD. The P-5 also has reservations about the other candidates, Sri Lanka’s Jayantha Dhanapala and South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon.

China, for instance, is opposed to a South Korean, because of its proximity to North Korea while the US and European members of the P-5 feel that a Sri Lankan would be vulnerable because of the ongoing ethnic conflict in the island. It’s against this backdrop that India decided to field Tharoor but the backdrop seems to be shifting. These are early days yet with the contest field still unclear, so it’s unwise to come to any conclusions at this point.