Election 06: Leong's call for unity and compromise

by ChessBase
5/16/2006 – Ignatius Leong of is the long-serving General Secretary of FIDE and part of the Kirsan Ilyumzhinov reelection campaign. Now the Singapore-based Leong has published a "call for unity", in which he proposes merging the two presidential tickets into one, with Ilyumzhinov as Chairman and Bessel Kok as President. The latter has replied to Leong's proposal and has respectfully declined.

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FIDE Election: A Call for Unity

An Open Letter by Ignatius Leong, General Secretary of FIDE

13 May 2006

Dear Chess Friends,

I am writing this in a follow-up to the Open Letter by Dato’ Tan Chin Nam “On Why Unity Is Strength”. While I agree with the spirit of Dato’ Tan’s letter, I had difficulty convincing myself of the practicality of a joint Kirsan Ilyumzhinov-Bessel Kok presidency. While such a proposal may work in other situations, Kirsan is no ordinary FIDE President. As a Head of State, a certain level of protocol is due to him, and a joint-presidency may not reflect this. So with due respect to Dato’ Tan, I continue…

The current FIDE Election presents the Chess World with a unique opportunity to morph into a modern, professional, dynamic, transparent and sustainable organisation.

Two eminent persons, the incumbent president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the challenger Bessel Kok, each anchors a ticket in a winner-takes-all election.

The decade-long incumbent: charismatic, controversial. The challenger: a professional corporate leader with impeccable credentials and a long association with chess.

Kirsan has his detractors. As one who has watched and worked with him close-up over the past decade, I say to his critics: “Government always looks easy when right, and so devilish when wrong, the further you are away from the seat of power.”

Bessel comes to battle fresh, without chess leadership baggage. This works for and against him. He can fight the good fight — and lose.

To Kirsan, I say your patronage has served FIDE well in the dark difficult years following your bold move to shoulder the thankless burden of the presidency in 1995. Is it not best to ease off while on top of your game?

To Bessel, I say you look like a one-election wonder. Win or lose, you are unlikely to be back for another contest four years on. If you lose, you might turn your back on a benighted FIDE, or worse, take your supporters with you to form a parallel organisation. The result: a diminished FIDE and an insufficiently representative new organisation. Lose-lose for chess.

In 1994 and the intervening elections after Kirsan was first elected President, FIDE Elections have been characterised by intrigue and cynicism.

But enough of that. Let us together light a candle rather than curse the dark.

To both Presidential Candidates, I say: Chess life is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Bring out your gravitas. Consider FIDE’s overriding need now and ever: Institutions in an organisation that is a value proposition to commercial sponsors and which survive changes in the Presidency. Reject the mindless cruelty of winner takes all, the worthy loser fading into the dark. Rise above the fray.

In this spirit, I propose the following 6-man Unification Ticket to replace the present two 5-man tickets:






Ilyumzhinov, Kirsan


With casting vote on Presidential Board


Kok, Bessel


The dynamic change agent.

Deputy President:

Dato' Tan, Chin Nam 


Another chess luminary to serve as the glue on the Board.

Vice President:

Kouatly, Bachar


Brings business approach to the position.

General Secretary:


One to be nominated by Kirsan and the other by Bessel.


Nominated Vice President:


One to be nominated by Kirsan and the other by Bessel.

Nominated Vice President:      

I believe this proposal is balanced and acceptable to both Presidential Candidates. I urge them to consider and accept this as a way out of the impasse and destructive competition. I appeal to Dato’ Tan to answer this call to international service at this hour so pregnant with possibilities. I appeal to my good friend Bachar to re-join the establishment with a fresh focus. Drop the baggage from 1994, 1996 and 1998 and help build a strong business-oriented FIDE. I believe this proposal is win-win-win.

I appeal to Federations (Presidents/Secretaries/Delegates) to support this call to Unity. Please email me your support at ignatiusleong@pacific.net.sg and I will update everyone accordingly on the website www.intchessasia.com.

I also appeal to all Honorary Members of FIDE and the world chess community to support my proposal in a similar way.

My parting words to both Presidential Candidates: My proposal is made without fear or favour and in the best interests of chess as I see them. It is a proposal for Unity. I shall be disappointed if either of you reject it. In such event I shall support the Presidential Ticket that accepts my proposal.

Yours truly,
Ignatius Leong
Delegate, Singapore

Open letter by Bessel Kok regarding proposal for Chess Unity 15.05.2006

Open Letter to Proposal by Mr Ignatius Leong

Dear Mr. Leong,

I have studied your open letter and your attempt to propose some form of compromise. The Right Move Team and its supporting Federations have some obvious concerns with this particular form of compromise, which has occurred in several past FIDE elections. The Right Move is not afraid of the ballot box. We are in an election campaign precisely for the purpose of making badly needed changes in FIDE, not perpetuating the status quo.

FIDE Statutes have been ignored consistently in the past, always with the claim of being in the interest of chess. We, on the other hand, have pledged and carried out an open, honest, transparent campaign from the very first day. A large working team of advisors from all areas of the chess world have contributed their ideas and we have formed a range of proposals based upon their contributions.

Federations have been crying out for years, for somebody to listen to them and to work with them in developing chess in countries all over the world. They have been asking to participate in the management of FIDE which, unfortunately, has been restricted to a few back-scratching friends. We have strong support from many Federations all over the world who want to see a new FIDE based on competence, strategic direction, open communication and more importantly, honesty and transparency.

You proposal suffers from two fatal defects.

  • Firstly, it is contrary to the FIDE statutes and is illegal.

  • Secondly, we will not misplace the trust placed in us by the Federations supporting us and desiring a change in line with the programs and ideas we have delivered to date.

We ask both sides to respect the outcome of the election. Furthermore, when elected, the Right Move will welcome with open arms anyone who wishes to work for the good of chess, regardless of how they may have voted. In this way we will achieve unity. I am sure that anybody who truly holds chess close to his heart will continue to support it, no matter what role he may play in a future FIDE.

We therefore respectfully decline your proposal.

Bessel Kok
Candidate for FIDE President

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