Ex-Saenuri chief takes a jab at Ban’s ambition

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Ex-Saenuri chief takes a jab at Ban’s ambition

Former Saenuri chief Kim Moo-sung said Thursday that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was criticized by U.S. media as being the “worst UN chief ever,” amid growing speculation that Ban will declare his bid for the presidency once he finishes his job at the United Nations.

Kim, a veteran six-term lawmaker, made the remark while presenting his case that Korean press should refrain from speculation about Ban’s possible presidential ambitions once he completes his second UN term later this year.

“Ban has a very short time left in his term and the U.S. media criticizes him as being the worst UN chief ever,” remarked Kim before reporters, adding that Western media have reported critically on Ban.

“We need to help Ban successfully finish his job (at the UN) and receive a positive review of his performance,” continued Kim.

It is unusual for a lawmaker from the governing party to cite critical media reports on Ban as an ineffective UN leader, who is widely expected by the political establishment to join the race next year.

In May, the Economist gave Ban’s performance a low-point evaluation, calling him “the dullest” and “the worst” among all eight UN chiefs in history. It went on to describe Ban as “painfully ineloquent, addicted to protocol and lacking in spontaneity and depth.”

Kim is one of a handful ruling party lawmakers in the Saenuri Party who are expected to run in a party primary to win the nomination. Ban, a former foreign affairs minister, has done well in recent polls of the most favored presidential contenders, capitalizing on his high profile, which he gained from his coveted career at the multinational body, despite a number of critical reviews of his performance over the past decade.

Kim’s remark could be a harbinger of more reproof by ruling party members outside the pro-Park Geun-hye faction, aligning to diminish Ban’s chance of winning a party nomination for president. Gyeonggi Governor Nam Kyung-pil, who indicated he would decide whether to run for president by early next year, downplayed Ban’s efforts at the United Nations to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambition. “Ban needs to answer questions as to what he has done as the UN chief to help resolve a gridlock over North Korea’s nuclear program,” said the governor during a discussion forum with journalists on Wednesday.

In the latest poll of 1,024 adults nationwide by Realmeter, conducted on Monday and Tuesday, Ban topped the survey with 38.5 percent support, followed by Moon Jae-in with 30.6 percent and Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party with 18 percent.

With Ban nearing the end of his 10-year career at the United Nations, The New York Times on Tuesday credited Ban as leading international efforts to reach an agreement to reduce carbon emissions last December at the Paris Agreement, which was joined by the United States and China, the world’s two biggest polluters. The article called it his “greatest legacy.”

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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