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Rio Tinto firms up $2.5 bln Oyu Tolgoi loan
May 3 (Reuters) - Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd has attracted strong interest for a $2.5 billion loan to expand its Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia, in one of the largest resource financings in Asia this year, banking sources said.
The financing is key for Rio Tinto to go ahead with the construction of an estimated $5.1 billion underground mine at Oyu Tolgoi, following the start of commercial sales mid-year from an open-cut mine.
The project loan and the start of commercial sales both hinge on Rio Tinto resolving a dispute with the Mongolian government over management of the mine, spiralling costs, and taxes. Both sides have said talks were progressing.
Lenders were scaled back due to strong demand, with 14 lenders submitting credit-approved commitments ranging from $50 million to $250 million. Those who submitted commitments of $300 million were scaled back by $50-$100 million.
Initial mandated lead arrangers BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered Bank were allocated $250 million each.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Credit Agricole CIB, HSBC, ING Bank, Natixis, Societe Generale and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp were allocated $200 million each.
Three other banks have been allocated $150 million, and Germany's export credit agency KfW IPEX and Dutch development bank FMO are also lending.
The project financing has been split in two tranches, with 60 percent in a B-loan tranche with International Finance Corp and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and 40 percent through a Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)-guaranteed tranche.
The margin for the B-loan tranche is 340 basis points over Libor, and 265 bp over Libor for the MIGA tranche. Lenders will also earn a flat 250 bp upfront fee.
Lenders are waiting for Rio and financial adviser Rothschild to finalise the split.
The project is also heavily backed by $1.95 billion in direct loans from Australian, European, U.S. and Canadian export credit agencies.
Due to the high level of equity investment, Rio will have the option to raise more debt at a later stage and re-gear the project.
Mogi: wish a journalist would clarify these events with MMC, I can only make guesses
Kerry Group reduces MMC stake to 11.12% from 12.76%
May 5 (Cover Mongolia) Substantial Holder Notice filed on April 26 revealed that Kerry Group, one of Mongolian Mining Corp.’s (HKEx:975) largest shareholders, reduced its stake in MMC to 11.12% from 12.76% in what it’s described as “surrender of rights to shares.”
NAR: UPDATE ON THE CLAIMS
May 2, North Asia Resources Holdings Limited (HKEx:61) --
Reference is made to (i) the announcements of North Asia Resources Holdings Limited (the “Company”) dated 27 August 2012, 8 April 2013 and 10 April 2013 in relation to a claim filed by Mountain Sky Resources Holdings Limited (the “Claimant”) on 21 August 2012 in the High Court of Justice of the British Virgin Islands against Mountain Sky Resources (Mongolia) Limited, Ultra Asset International Ltd., the Company and Guang Cheng Group Limited (together, the “Defendants”); (ii) the announcements issued by the Company dated 8 October 2012, 29 November 2012, 14 December 2012, 28 February 2013, 13 March 2013, 18 March 2013 and 12 April 2013 relating to, among other things, (a) the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Lexing Holdings Limited; (b) the disposal of the entire issued shares of, and the shareholder’s loans due by, North Asia Resources Group Limited and Good Loyal Group Limited; (c) the subscription of ordinary shares and convertible preference shares of the Company by Business Ally Investments Limited; and (d) the alteration of the terms of the existing convertible bonds of the Company (together, the “Transactions”); and (iii) the circular of the Company dated 25 March 2013 (the “Circular”) in relation to, among other things, the Transactions. Capitalised terms used herein have the same meanings as those defined in the Circular and the announcement of the Company dated 10 April 2013 unless otherwise specified.
At the hearing of the Application filed by the Claimant in the BVI for an injunction to restrain Mountain Sky and Ultra Asset from entering into or completing the Transactions, which was held on 1 May 2013 (BVI time), after hearing of the submission of the parties, the Judge of the High Court of Justice of the BVI reserved judgement of the Application until early next week. The Undertakings given by Mountain Sky and Ultra Asset will continue to be effective pending the judgement of the Application.
Further announcement will be made by the Company as and when appropriate if there is any material development of the Claims.
MRC: Notice of General Meeting from Chinggis Metals
May 3, Mongolian Resource Corporation Limited (ASX:MUB) --
Notice is given that a General Meeting of shareholders of Mongolian Resource Corporation Ltd ("Company") will be held at 10.30am on 4 June 2013 at The Christie Conference Centre in the Ming Room on Level 2, 3 Spring Street, Sydney NSW Australia 2000.
This Notice is given by Chinggis Metals Pty Ltd ACN 127 620 482 (“Convening Shareholder”) under section 249F of the Corporations Act.
The purpose of the General Meeting is as follows:
Resolution 1 – Removal of Jargalsaikhan Naidansuren as a director
To consider and if thought fit to pass the following resolution as an ordinary resolution:
“That Jargalsaikhan Naidansuren be removed as a director of the Company with immediate effect.”
Resolution 2- Election of Peter Cook as a Director
To consider and if thought fit to pass the following resolution as an ordinary resolution:
“That Peter Cook be elected a director of the Company with immediate effect.”
Resolution 3 – Removal of Anthony Lloyd Bainbridge as a director
To consider and if thought fit to pass the following resolution as an ordinary resolution:
“That Anthony Lloyd Bainbridge be removed as a director of the Company with immediate effect.”
Resolution 4- Election of Joseph Sponholz as a Director
To consider and if thought fit to pass the following resolution as an ordinary resolution:
“That Joseph Sponholz be elected a director of the Company with immediate effect.”
Resolution 5 – Removal of Tanan Jargalsaikhan as a director
To consider and if thought fit to pass the following resolution as an ordinary resolution:
“That Tanan Jargalsaikhan be removed as a director of the Company with immediate effect.”
Resolution 6- Election of James Malone as a Director
To consider and if thought fit to pass the following resolution as an ordinary resolution:
“That James Malone be elected a director of the Company with immediate effect.”
Resolution 7- Removal of Galsan Jamts Sereeter as a Director
To consider and if thought fit to pass the following resolution as an ordinary resolution:
“That Galsan Jamts Sereeter be removed as a director of the Company with immediate effect.”
Resolution 8 - Election of Haydn Lynch as a Director (Mogi: formerly CEO of Xanadu Mines if not mistaken)
To consider and if thought fit to pass the following resolution as an ordinary resolution:
“That Haydn Lynch be elected a director of the Company with immediate effect.”
Mogi: looks like more like an article that resurfaced after 3 months, than a fitting description of the current situation
Mongolia, amid influx of foreign money, clashes with a major partner, mining giant Rio Tinto
May 3 (Bloomberg Markets via Washington Post) Outside, it’s minus 22 degrees as a February wind blasts across the Central Asian steppe and through the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar. Inside Government House, President Tsakhia Elbegdorj delivers a televised speech that simultaneously warms his people and chills foreign investors.
The country’s 76 legislators have convened to debate the future of one of the planet’s richest copper and gold mines, Oyu Tolgoi, which is 66 percent owned by the London-based Rio Tinto Group and 34 percent owned by the state. Elbegdorj tells them Rio Tinto has let the project’s total cost balloon by $10 billion. The higher expenses, which Rio Tinto disputes, would diminish and delay profits the government shares in.
“The time has come for the Mongolian government to take Oyu Tolgoi matters into its own hands,” Elbegdorj says to cheers from the lawmakers. His demands include giving Mongolian employees more management positions on the project, which is scheduled to begin exporting copper concentrate by June.
Few things matter more in the political and economic life of this landlocked country of 2.8 million people than foreign investment to develop its mineral wealth. Mining money has spawned gleaming office towers, pricey gated communities and luxury-car dealerships in the capital. And yet, half of all Mongolians still live like their nomadic ancestors in circular felt yurts.
Minegolia, to use a nickname that’s become more common during the mining boom, remains a poor country. About 30 percent of the population lived in poverty in 2011, according to the government, although that was an improvement from 40 percent in 2010, before the start of payouts funded by mine proceeds.
Puntsag Tsagaan, the president’s chief of staff, says he doesn’t want to see his country turned into Minegolia. Mineral wealth should be exploited cautiously and benefit the people, he says: “It does not have to be unlocked in a generation.”
Mongolia’s gross domestic product expanded 12.3 percent last year to $10 billion. Economists expect 15 percent growth this year. Oyu Tolgoi, which means Turquoise Hill, will be the largest contributor to the economy once it’s fully operational. With fees, royalties and the government stake, as much as 71 percent of profits will go to Mongolians, the International Monetary Fund estimates.
“There is scope for Mongolia to vastly develop if it gets everything right,” says Vidur Jain, a strategist at Monet Capital, an investment bank based in Ulaanbaatar.
At the moment, much appears to be going wrong. Instead of basking in new mineral riches, Elbegdorj is sparring with Rio Tinto. In addition to the complaint about a cost blowout, the government says the company should have paid taxes last year and needs greater financial transparency. (Mogi: “sparring” as far as I see it is over)
In his speech to parliament on Feb. 1, Elbegdorj wasn’t just bluffing. A few days later, his government briefly froze Rio Tinto’s bank accounts.
“I’m concerned by recent political signals within Mongolia calling into question some aspects of the investment agreement,” Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto’s chief executive, said in a webcast. “This undermines the partnership we’ve built.”
Rio Tinto, through its Oyu Tolgoi unit, says it has prepaid taxes and wasn’t obligated to make payments in 2012. The company says Phase 1 construction costs are on budget, at $6.2 billion, and in line with estimates it gave the government in December 2010. “We have always been fully transparent with all our shareholders regarding our project finances, costs and operations,” Oyu Tolgoi chief executive Cameron McRae said in a statement.
Until recently, Oyu Tolgoi had billboards in the capital that touted the IMF estimate that most of the mine’s profits will benefit Mongolians, illustrating the point with a loaf of bread cut into two unequal pieces.
After two decades of laissez faire, the government last year introduced regulations and laws to rein in foreign investors. These include insisting that a foreign company acquiring more than a 33 percent stake in a mine or other strategic industry get approval from a government agency. Investments above 49 percent must be approved by parliament. The government has more than Rio Tinto in its sights. St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, London-based Anglo American and several smaller mining companies also operate in the country.
“There’s a real doubt in the minds of Mongolians about foreign investment,” says Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, whose $1.5 billion Templeton Frontier Markets Fund returned 24 percent last year. His fund has only 1 percent of its money in Mongolia. “It’s very low on the totem pole,” he says.
Some investors who have made Mongolia a priority may be heading for the exits, says Travis Hamilton, managing director of Singapore-based Khan Investment Management, which owns stakes in Mongolian companies. “Without legislative clarity, clear leadership and a welcoming environment for investment, the government risks a flight of capital,” he says.
Even the U.S. ambassador to Mongolia has joined the fray, chiding the government and investors for their hostility to one another. “The lack of respect is killing projects,” Piper Campbell told delegates at a mining conference in Ulaanbaatar. “I have been in meetings with the government and businesses where both sides accuse the other of violating laws, acting corruptly and other lapses — without thought of the impact of those kind of attacks. Both sides leave the room angry, the disputes fester, and when disaster inevitably comes, everybody acts surprised.”
Mongolia may already be paying a price for its toughening stand. After jumping 139 percent in 2010 and 47 percent in 2011, the tiny Mongolian Stock Exchange’s Top 20 Index tumbled 19 percent last year. It has fallen 15 percent this year, shrinking its market capitalization to $545 million as of April 8.
For Alisher Ali, founder of Silk Road Finance, an Ulaanbaatar-based investor in frontier markets, that’s a buying opportunity. He says he’s increasing his stakes in companies such as APU JSC, a beverage maker based in Mongolia.
“This period of underperformance is short-term,” says Ali, who also invests in Burma and Mozambique. “Ultimately, the Oyu Tolgoi issue will be resolved because it is in the long-term interests of both Rio Tinto and the government.”
For many Mongolians, national pride may count for more than investment dollars. Eight centuries ago, Mongol rulers were the world’s most powerful men. Genghis Khan’s empire stretched from the Mediterranean to Korea. His grandson Kublai Khan declared himself emperor of China, ruling from a fabled summer palace at Xanadu.
Elbegdorj, 50, himself a former nomad whose travels eventually took him to Harvard University, heads a mere fragment of that once-mighty realm. Surrounded by China and Russia, Mongolia has been dominated by one or the other of its giant neighbors for most of the past 300 years.
The country was an impoverished satellite of the former Soviet Union during much of the past century. It still retains the Cyrillic alphabet, and many of Ulaanbaatar’s 1.3 million inhabitants live in crumbling concrete apartment buildings from the Soviet era. Others live just outside the city’s center in yurts — known locally as gers — without sewers, running water or, in most cases, electricity. Smoke from their coal fires has turned the capital into one of the world’s most polluted cities, according to a World Bank report.
With the Soviet empire crumbling in 1990, Mongolia emerged as a turbulent democracy with revolving-door governments. Because the country is a minerals exporter, its proximity to China has been a coveted asset. Oyu Tolgoi is 60 miles from the Chinese border. To best exploit that geographic advantage, though, Mongolia must upgrade its dirt roads, threadbare rail network and overloaded power grid.
Last year, it issued $1.5 billion of Chinggis bonds, named for the local spelling of Genghis, and the government plans to sell an additional $3.5 billion.
Rather than simply letting investors mine ore and ship it across the nearest border, the government plans facilities such as a copper smelter, a coal coking plant, an oil refinery and an iron pellet plant that will add value.
Mongolia is displaying newfound confidence internationally. In 2003, it sent 120 soldiers to support U.S. troops in Baghdad — a city the Mongol hordes sacked in 1258. It has small peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and South Sudan. For now, though, Elbegdorj is consumed by domestic politics. A presidential election is due in June, and he’s betting that playing hardball with mining companies will be a vote winner.
He may be right. Out in the Gobi Desert, near where Rio Tinto’s miners are digging for copper in shafts 4,300 feet underground, Aimtan Ulam-Badrakh, 54, stands stoically beside his isolated yurt watching his 300 sheep and 10 camels graze on tufts of brown grass.
At first glance, it’s a way of life unchanged since the days of Genghis Khan. Step inside the yurt, however, and a different story unfolds. The stocky herdsman can afford a leather couch, a television and a computer. An iPhone 4 lies on a bed — one of three mobile devices his family shares. His wife works part time at the airport built for the miners. His daughter teaches English at a local school, having learned the language while on a scholarship in Malaysia sponsored by Rio Tinto’s local unit. Along with other desert dwellers, the family has been further enriched by as much as $11,000 in compensation paid by the mining company for the disruption its project has caused.
Ulam-Badrakh says that he is glad Oyu Tolgoi is being developed but that he also has reservations. “Foreigners cannot just dig up the land, take away our wealth and leave us with a big hole in the ground,” he says. “It has to be beneficial for foreigners and the Mongolian people.”
The full version of this Bloomberg Markets article appears in the magazine’s May issue.
MONGOLIAN STOCK EXCHANGE NEWS FOR MAY 3
Ulaanbaatar, May 3 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades on May 3, a total of 23 thousand and 305 shares of 18 JSCs were traded costing MNT 54 million 004 thousand and 754.00.
Rates of seven shares increased, of four shares decreased, of seven were stable.
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 267 billion 475 million 173 thousand and 909. The Index of Top-20 was 13364.84.
Link to article (click English and try link again)
BoM issues 1-week bills
May 3 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 46.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 11.50 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Orkhon Economic Forum-2013
May 2 (Mongolian Economy) “Orkhon Economic Forum-2013” will be held on May 2-3, 2013 in Bayan-Undur Soum of Orkhon province. The event is organised by the Government of Mongolia, The Mongolia Economic Forum (MEF), and the Governor’s Office of Orkhon Aimag.
The Prime Minister of Mongolia N. Altankhuyag and the Governor of Orkhon province G. Zorigt will open the forum officially on May 3, 2013.
The National Mongolia Economic Forum-2013 was hosted in April in Ulaanbaatar. Here, the business entrepreneurs from the capital city took part mainly. In order to involve the regional businesses, four regions are selected to conduct separate economic forums. The first regional forum is starting now from Orkhon.
The session topics for May 3, 2012 are “Orkhon province- Erdenet city”, “Competitiveness of the regional private sector”, “Public private dialogue”, “Regional development and Erdenet factory”.
Up to 90 participants from Ulaanbaatar are expected. Representatives of the public-and private sector, the Ambassador of Australia with his delegation, scientists, business entrepreneurs and producers from Orkhon Aimag will take part in the forum.
The Prime Minister N. Altankhuyag is due to hold a meeting exclusively with civil society on 19.30 of May 2, 2013 at the Cultural Palace of Orkhon province.
CONSTRUCTION WORK OF NEW AIRPORT STARTS
May 3 (Montsame) A construction has started of the international airport in the valley of Khoshig in Sergelen soum, Tov province. The Japanese Mitsubishi-Chiyoda Alliance has been selected as the executor of this work.
The valley is about 54 km south to Ulaanbaatar. The very first object to be erected will be a flight security provision building, and it will be followed by a new Zuunmod town.
A construction is also expected of a high speed motorway that connects Ulaanbaatar with the airport, relay station and railway, Zuunmod factory, technological park, cargo terminal and complex of plant of thermal power plants.
The 12,084.9 hectares of lands for the airport were issued June 2 of 2012 by Mongolian Government's resolution, and the airport's foundation stone was laid that time.
The new airport will have capacity to serve 1 million 650 thousand passengers a year and to receive 6 airplane at the same time. To ensure a normal environment for the airport staffers, a new town for 100 thousand residents is needed.
The new airport will have 30 structures and two runaways. Its annual capacity of goods freight will be 11,900 tons.
Jargal de Facto: Measuring the competitive success of the provinces
May 5 (UB Post) Mongolians group the aimags (provinces) of this country in many ways, including by orientation, such as eastern or western, and by natural zones such as forest or desert. Governments divide aimags and merge or split soums (districts) for various reasons. Every time that happens, soums can get bigger, smaller, or even disappear.
Recently, discussions were held about the idea of restructuring 20 of Mongolia’s 21 provinces by merging them to form only five provinces. But Mongolian politicians are not capable of achieving anything bigger than organizational or structural changes. They don’t even know that even when addends are grouped differently, the sum does not change.
People brag about racehorses and traditional wrestlers from their aimags. They don’t care about political ideology, political party affiliations, or competitive business when it comes to their wrestlers doing well and becoming champions. They chip in money to buy off the tournament win for their wrestler, and afterwards feel no shame for their crime. On the contrary, they throw a huge party and claim that they boosted pride in their aimag. It’s an embarrassing act that they should be ashamed of when standing before their own children.
There are many other ways for Mongolians to be proud of the land they were born in, and develop their country. It would be better if aimags competed in the development of introducing local brands to the international market. This would bring about substantial improvements to rural life.
With this type of competition in mind, and to provide basic information and to involve more local people in economic development, the Economic Policy and Competitiveness Research Center (EPCR) prepared their first provincial competitiveness report, available on their website www.ercr.mn.
You cannot manage what you do not measure. This annual report was devised to give provincial governments an idea of where they stand in comparison to others, and to allow them to make decisions and plans accordingly.
The report presents a ranking of the provinces based on their levels of competitiveness in terms of 180 internationally accepted indicators; in the areas of public governance, economy and infrastructure. The report ranks Orkhon Province first in terms of competitiveness and Dundgovi Province last.
The developers of this report have suggested that five issues be addressed to develop rural areas: get rid of corruption and excessive bureaucracy, improve health and education systems, promote effective spending of mining income, support small and medium-sized enterprises, and develop roads and infrastructure.
A report developed by the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry titled “Research on developing the indicators of local business environments and the 2011 index,” produced a similar analysis to that of the aimag competitiveness report.
This report, produced at the request of the National Development and Innovation Committee, provided significant data related to business environment indicators, such as starting a business (Darkhan-Uul ranked first, Dundgovi last), acquiring permits (Dornogovi first, Dundgovi last), registering property (Sukhbaatar first, Tuv last), finding loans or funding (Darkhan-Uul first, Khovd last), tax environment (Uvurkhangai first, Tuv last), conducting international trade (Gobisumber first, Gobi-Altai last) and implementing agreements (Sukhbaatar first, Tuv last).
Aimags should develop strategies to create products that are in demand and therefore compete effectively in the market. For example, Khuvsgul Province could develop its tourism industry by providing tourists with ski and golf resorts that meet international standards. Why not arrange direct flights from Southeast Asia to Khuvsgul so that tourists can easily escape from extreme summer heat to visit golf resorts in Khuvsgul? Every aimag could build their own golf resort, while also reflecting their unique features.
Furthermore, our provinces should focus on producing their own unique products, such as tea mixed with locally sourced berries and honey, dairy products, meat, wool and cashmere. They should have long-term plans to supply their products to Ulaanbaatar first, then to neighboring countries and, ultimately to the whole of Asia.
Economic diversification is necessary. Our aimags might stop trying to seize every opportunity to mine their land if mining royalties were allocated not just to the aimag permitting the mining, but shared across aimags. Canada allocates royalty payments this way.
We need to introduce policies to expand the economic power of aimags by, for example, adding a “local tax” to existing taxes without increasing the rate of taxation, issuing aimag bonds to fund social projects at the local level, and imposing no taxes on coupon payments.
The development of towns in rural provinces could reduce the financial pressures of maintaining infrastructure, like we see in Ulaanbaatar today, but Mongolia has no long-term policy for this kind of development.
If we manage to determine every aimag’s development outlook for the next 20 or 30 years, we will be able to develop them appropriately, and make the necessary preparations. For example, who is thinking about what will happen to Orkhon Province and Erdenet after their copper deposits are depleted in 30 years? Experience abroad shows that mining towns tend to become ghost towns when local leaders don’t think about what will happen when the mining stops. All aimags with mining industries should start thinking about what will happen when the mineral resources are gone, and how current revenues should be spent.
Erdenet Mining Corporation should be owned by the public, not the state, and a certain percentage of its shares should belong to the local people, so that they can accumulate mining revenue in a “Post 2040” fund.
It would also be smart to develop strategies to make one of the western aimags a regional center of education or health and start building the necessary infrastructure now.
If everything is calculated in this fashion, and a certain outlook for the future is determined, people will stop spending their lives divided along political party lines. Politicians will compete by doing things, not just by talking about what they are going to do. It will also be easier to measure their fulfillment of their promises.
It’s time to hold meetings and conferences between local governments, the private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders, including citizens, to discuss how aimags can identify their strengths and weaknesses, and how each can improve competitiveness.
The time has come for us to wake up and start competing with our brains and business sense, rather than racehorses and wrestlers, so that we can enter the international marketplace. When we conquered the world on horseback, every aimag contributed forces.
Mongolian President Leads Rivals in Re-Election Bid, Poll Shows
May 3 (Bloomberg News) President Tsakhia Elbegdorj leads his nearest rival by 13 percentage points heading into June 26 elections, according to a new poll, making it unlikely that he’ll face a serious challenge as he seeks a second term.
Asked whom they would choose as president, 19.2 percent of respondents named Elbegdorj, the Sant Maral Foundation poll said. In second with 6.2 percent was Nambar Enkhbayar, the opposition leader (Mogi: not exactly opposition as his MPRP party is in the government) serving a two-and-a-half-year jail term on corruption charges. No one else received more than 3.2 percent.
A win for Elbegdorj, president since 2009, may ensure continuity as Mongolian leaders debate the role of foreign investors in exploiting the country’s mineral resources. While Elbegdorj has made conflicting statements (Mogi: wouldn’t really say conflicting statements) on whether the government should take greater control of strategic mines, he’s seen as a known quantity, consultant Dale Choi said.
“Elbegdorj has shown himself to be very inconsistent,” Choi, founder of Ulaanbaatar-based Independent Mongolian Metals and Mining Research, said in an e-mail. “Even in view of these shortcomings, it would be good if he were re-elected because it would mean the government authorities can continue functioning as they are.”
The poll by Ulaanbaatar-based Sant Maral was conducted between April 5 and April 21 and had 2,000 respondents. It didn’t give a margin of error.
Elbegdorj’s Democratic Party took control of the government last year after defeating the Mongolian People’s Party in parliamentary elections.
The Democrats now hold the positions of president, prime minister, parliament speaker and mayor of Ulaanbaatar. The poll said 53.2 percent of respondents were fairly satisfied or very satisfied with the current government.
“Elbegdorj has no rival and it will be quite problematic for anyone to stand against him in the time remaining,” Sant Maral Foundation Director Luvsandendev Sumati said. “If he does not make some major mistake he should get through.”
PolitBarometer Ahead of Presidential Election
April 3 (Julian Dierkes, Mongolia Today) The Sant Maral Foundation released its PolitBarometer April survey of voters. Going by their strategy ahead of the parliamentary election in 2012, this will be the penultimate survey of public opinion.
While polling is underdeveloped in Mongolia and hampered by the absence of some kind of general social survey, the Sant Maral Foundation under L. Sumati certainly strives to do the best it can in the circumstances. Given the challenges in sampling and the PolitBarometer’s reliance on regional sampling, the results are best taken to be indicative rather than a reflection of voters’ intentions nation-wide.
Nearly 85% of voters in the sample expressed their intention of voting. That would be far higher than in the last presidential election of 2009 with a turn-out of 73.5% and also massively higher than the turn-out in last year’s parliamentary election (65%). I don’t see any particular factor that would spur such an increase in voter participation, welcome as it would be, so I would chalk this up to social expectations and an understanding of the legitimacy of expressing an intention to vote.
With no official candidate nominations yet (Mogi: looks like it’ll former wrestling champion B. Bat-Erdene), the choices for presidential candidates are really not very telling other than to suggest that Ts Elbegdorj as the incumbent does have the backing of his party supporters (79%). Since a divided then-MPRP is one of the aspects of the last presidential election that probably sunk the candidacy of then-incumbent N Enkhbayar, this party backing is surely significant for Elbegdorj’s campaign.
Equally important may be the lack of a clear MPP candidate to run against Elbegdorj. In the run-up to the MPP nomination some of the candidates mentioned most frequently have been O Enkhtuvshin, current General Secretary of the party, former Prime Minister and major of Ulaanbaatar M Enkhbold, former wrestler and current MP B Bat-Erdene, and MP N Oyunkhorol. Only two of them, Bat-Erdene and Enkhtuvshin recieved 14% and 12% from MPP supporters respectively.
Also notable is the prominence of union leader S Ganbaatar. He also does well on the “who, in your opinion, should play an important role in politics” question with support in Ulaanbaatar as well as the countryside.
Among MPRP candidates that are being mentioned, D Terbishdagva does reasonably well among his own supporters (14%), while Ch. Ulaan is only mentioned by 5%.
In a number of questions, former presidents Enkhbayar (currently serving his corruption jail sentence) and N Bagabandi are mentioned.
Until formal nominations of candidates will allow a real choice in polling, the current PolitBarometer is merely suggestive of the relative strength of incumbent Elbegdorj. Hopefully, Sant Maral will run another survey before the cut-off of June 19.
DP postpones MPP Sumiyabazar’s MP oath taking
May 3 (news.mn) During Thursday`s plenary session meeting of Parliament Democratic Party members rejected to back D.Sumiyabazar oath taking as an MP.
Before agreeing to discuss the head of MPP, N.Enkhbold submitted a suggestion to discuss the of oath taking of D.Sumiyabazar who won in a revote for the Parliamentary election at the 26th Electoral district.
The General Election Committee counted D.Sumiyabazar elected as an MP and delivered the suggestion to have D.Sumiyabazar take the oath as an MP to the President and Speaker.
But the head of the DP caucus, D.Erdenebat said that “DP believes that the revote violated election laws. DP made a complaint about whether the General Election Committee violated the law to the Constitutional Court. Only after the Constitutional Court decides on which party was right will we discuss the issue”.
The Speaker underlined that “the issue is not included in subjects to be discussed this week. There is no hesitation to discuss this next week. This is not the first time that an MP`s oath taking has been postponed. Previously such issue have been postponed for a week because MPP caucus took an issue about Uburkhangai Electoral District to the Constitutional Court.”
Mogi: wonder what RZD is not happy about this time, thinks owning 50% of Trans-Mongolian railway entitles them to 50% of all future railroads
Russian Railways President scheduled to meet PM Altankhuyag on May 12 upon request
April 30 (news.mn) The President of the state-run Russian Railways Company, V.I. Yakunin, delivered a request to meet with Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag several days ago.
The Russian Ambassador B.B. Samoilenko officially handed V.I. Yakunin`s letter to Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag.
The date of the meeting was not scheduled and there was speculation that the date could be in early May. The date of meeting Prime Minister and V.I. Yakunin has now been scheduled for May 12th.
Mongolian National Broadcaster criticized as dependent
May 2 (news.mn) A working group reported on the summary of an inspection into the Mongolian National Broadcaster on the implementation of law to the Standing Committee on State Structure on Wednesday May 1st.
The working group of the Standing Committee on State Structure studied the success of the implementation of law in the Mongolian National Broadcaster.
The report stated that programs broadcast by the National radio and television are politically influenced. A study by an outside professional survey shows that surreptitious advertising substantially exits in the National Broadcaster and more sponsored programs have been added instead of editor`s program than previous years. The report also said that the structure of the National Broadcaster`s Administrative is too heavy and too centralized.
The working group analyzed that the implementation of law in the public radio and television is not enough.
The working group also criticized the Board of Executive Directors as being too dependent, citing this as a serious problem.
The working group said that “the Board’s status should be transparent. For the National Broadcaster, Boards of the radio, television and the National Board are centralized in one hand. There is a lack of legislative regulations and there is weak board management.”
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UPDATE 1-Mongolia seeks bids to mine part of huge Tavan Tolgoi coal mine
May 3 (Reuters) - Mongolia's Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi has launched a tender for a one-year contract to mine the western Tsankhi block of the giant Tavan Tolgoi coal field, a top executive of the state-owned company said on Friday.
Mongolia needs to kickstart the long-delayed project as it is under pressure to boost mine production and revenue to plug a budget gap and stave off a credit downgrade amid a sharp downturn in commodity prices.
It is also trying to attract foreign investors who have been scared away over the past year by regulatory changes and a dispute over the agreement governing the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper mine.
Bids for the western Tsankhi mining contract are due on May 31, Chief Financial Officer Batdorj Enkhbat told Reuters.
The development of the western block would add 888 million tonnes of reserves to the Tavan Tolgoi mine, bringing the total current exploitable reserves to 1.8 billion tonnes, he has previously said.
Rights to western Tsankhi have long been coveted by major foreign mining companies, including U.S. coal miner Peabody Energy and China's Shenhua Group, who were part of a consortium that won a bid to invest in the block in 2011.
The Mongolian government backtracked on awarding those rights after other bidders from Japan and South Korea branded the decision unfair.
The current tender is only for a mining contract, similar to Leighton Holdings' contract to run the Ukhaa Khudag mine owned by Mongolian Mining Corp, next to Tavan Tolgoi.
Peabody Energy has been in talks with the Mongolian government about developing the mine, after being asked last year to draw up logistic and infrastructure plans for the block.
Leighton declined to comment on whether it would bid for the western Tsankhi contract.
The World Bank this week cut its forecast for Mongolia's GDP growth in 2013 to 13 percent from 16.2 percent, reflecting what it called "the recent trends of negative export growth, sharply weakening FDI (foreign direct investment) inflow and (the) slower pace of Chinese economic recovery in the first quarter".
Standard & Poor's revised its rating outlook on Mongolia to negative from stable in April, saying there was more than a one-in-three chance it would cut its BB- long term and B short-term sovereign credit ratings within six to 18 months.
MINING MINISTER: ERDENES TAVAN TOLGOI CURRENT DEBT ESTIMATED AT 257 MILLION USD
May 2 (InfoMongolia) On May 01, 2013, following the Parliament's Economic Standing Committee meeting, Minister for Mining D.Gankhuyag gave details on current activity of "Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi" JSC and problems facing to date.
In his statement, Minister said, “Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi” JSC excavated 900 thousand tons of coal in 2011, 2.5 million tons in 2012, and from August 2011 to the first quarter of 2013 the company exported 2.7 million tons of coal to China. Also it is expected to mine from East Tsankhi (Block) of Tavan Tolgoi 6 million tons of coal in 2013, 10 million in 2014, 15 million in 2015-2016 and 20 million tons in 2017 that will reach the project capacity.
Australian Macmahon Holdings Limited is working at the site as contract miner since February 2012 and the company is planned to excavate 1 million ton in 2013, whereas Mongolian “Khishig Arvin Industrial” LLC has started to remove soil since February of this year.
To date, coal is being exported to China by trucks that costs much to freight expenses, which is almost equivalent to 40% of product cost, therefore we need to set up infrastructure immediately in order to supply coking coal from Tavan Tolgoi to main consumer China, besides to third parts Japan and South Korea.
In order to implement above mentioned tasks, Government of Mongolia resolved to allocate 200 million USD for railroad structure at the first stage, 50 million USD for 450 MW Power Plant relying on Tavan Tolgoi site and these money will be withdrawn from “Chinggis” Bond.
For its activity, “Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi” JSC borrowed 131 million USD from local Golomt Bank and Trade and Development Bank, in addition 350 million USD from China’s Chalco Trading Hong Kong Co., Limited as prepayment. Previous Government distributed 418 billion MNT from these funds to civilians as welfare through its Human Development Fund that was a reason to weaken the financial situation of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi since July 2012. Thereof, 186 million USD is left to repay to Chalco, 34 million USD to Golomt Bank, and 37 million USD to other local financial institutions, that comprises a total of 257 million USD debts as of today and it is estimated 4-5 months to repay Chalco’s money.
“Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi” JSC has only one buyer - Chalco and due to agreement established the 350 million USD will be repaid in exchange of coking coal. The unit price per ton was set at 70 USD, but based on China’s local IV Index the selling price is being changed quarterly and according to this price index 1 ton of coal to export to China was 53.6 USD in the first quarter of 2013, and currently costs 55.9 USD. Following the long discussed negotiations with Chalco authorities it was resolved to set up an inland customs nearby the Tavan Tolgoi site and change the location of sales terminal in order to save expenses.
Moreover, one of the solutions to resolve “Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi” company’s financial problems is to begin Tavan Tolgoi’s West Block exploitation and following the infrastructure and power issues completion to resolve selection of operator companies, consequently to prepare of releasing an IPO on the international stock markets that would able to open the third market.
Erdenes Tavantolgoi employee goes on hunger strike citing poor labor conditions
April 29 (news.mn) A member of staff of Erdenes Tavantolgoi the largest state owned company, S.Erdene, has been on a hunger strike since Friday April 26th opposing poor labor conditions and extra hours without pay.
S.Erdene claimed that Erdenes Tavantolgoi violates the labor laws and human rights by forcing staff to work extended hours under the cover of operations. He said that the company failed to carry out its obligation to implement the labor law and ignored staff member`s request to follow a proper work schedule and basic regulations and put pressure on him instead.
S.Erdene has been working for the company as an operator since it was formed. He said that the company decided that he should have training because he went against the system a few days ago.
He explained that such a measure is an attempt to fire him. He said “this attempt means that they will send me on a course and then can fire me claiming I did not pass the exam.”
He established a Trade Union to protect miners and other staff who work in the mining sector.
Currently the Trade Union membership holds 60 percent of Erdenes Tavantolgoi LLC.
However the other members of the Trade Union did not join the hunger strike but agreed with the demands for Erdenes Tavantolgoi to comply with the labor law carrying out proper regulations for labor security and operations.
Local director of Erdenes Tavantolgoi LLC, Batkhuyag met with S.Erdene about his demand. Batkhuyag said that “Erdenes Tavantolgoi LLC had 260 employees but now the number has been increased to 420.The number of people is high, but their work is less.”
JAPAN BUSINESS FAIR 2013, May 3-4
Ulaanbaatar, May 3 /MONTSAME/ A "Japan business fair-2013" is running at Mongolia's National Chamber of Commerce and Industry May 3-4.
It has been organized by the Japan External Trade Organization /JETRO/, Mongolian National chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Embassy of Japan in Mongolia, and the Ministry for Economic Development of Mongolia.
Aims of the exhibition are to give a push to economical cooperation between the two countries, to projects and programs realization, and to deepening of the relations of private sectors.
The Japanese 15 and 12 Mongolian companies are showing their products, for example, "Gobi" cashmere, "Monos" pharmaceutical and "Khatan suikh" food who make export to Japan.
Link to article (click English and try link again)
Czech businessmen return to Mongolia
Prague, May 2 (CTK) - Czech businessmen are returning to Mongolia after years to profit from the economic boom in this Asian country, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes Thursday, citing Czech Jan Novotny who has been running a water treatment firm with 60 employees in Mongolia for ten years.
Novotny, 60, who visited Mongolia for the first time with a geological expedition from the then Czechoslovakia in the 1980s, has known the country for 40 years and could watch twists and turns in its developments after the fall of the communist regime and democratic changes in the early 1990s.
The Mongolian economy declined then but in the past few years it was revitalised. In 2011 it was the world's most quickly growing economy, HN writes.
High investments in the mining industry helped the Mongolian economy, and subsequently they boosted the construction industry and other fields, Novotny told the paper.
Now he spends at least six months a year in Mongolia to supervise his business. "The main thing is to be permanently on the spot to solve problems as soon as they emerge," he told HN.
Diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the Czech Republic, a successor state to Czechoslovakia, were established on the ambassadorial level in January 1993. However, in September 1993 the Czech embassy in Ulan Bator was closed for financial reasons and bilateral relations between both countries temporarily cooled.
The Czech embassy was reopened in 1999. Czechs started again seeking business opportunities in Mongolia in the past few years.
A delegation of Czech businesspeople accompanied Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg during his visit to Mongolia in the past days, HN says.
Cooperation between Czech and Mongolian firms was revived after years of a low interest. Czechs have a good chance in Mongolia thanks to the positive reputation of some Czech trademarks, such as the Skoda machine works' products, Ojuntegs Enebis, general secretary of the Mongolian Industry and Commercial Chamber, told HN.
Besides, the Czech Republic is known thanks to some 25,000 Mongolians who studied in the country in the past. Now they help negotiate business deals with Czech firms in Mongolia, HN writes.
The country follows up the tradition from the 1970s and 1980s when many Czechoslovak geological expeditions worked in Mongolia to help prospect for raw material deposits. Now they help find drinking water sources in the Gobi desert, for instance, Enebis said, adding that Czech geologists know the environment, which is definitely their advantage.
Mongolia was gradually developing thanks to its rich raw material deposits that attracted foreign investors. Czech businessmen who returned there had to focus on modest projects first. Novotny recalls that at the beginning his firm was importing small products and foodstuffs.
HN writes that at present Czech construction companies, as well as tyre and glassware producers and hauliers are seeking contracts in Mongolia. Czechs are also building small breweries there.
Apart from Novotny's water treatment firm, the Argo Bohemia Czech transport company operates in Mongolia. The Preciosa glassmaker from Jablonec, north Bohemia, whose products have scored success elsewhere in Asia, offers individual lighting as well as complete interior solutions in Mongolia, HN says.
"The construction boom in Ulan Bator is a great chance for our firm," Pavel Kadlecek, from Preciosa, told HN.
According to Novotny, Mongolia is an amazing country that is open to daring business ideas but it is not a country for mere "gold diggers" who want to earn a lot of money quickly, HN writes.
Luxury Cashmere Company Revolutionizes the Fashion Industry
Naadam Cashmere is taking a game-changing approach in the fashion industry to help hundreds of Mongolian families keep their livelihood and preserve their millenary traditions.
New York, NY (PRWEB) May 01, 2013 -- Naadam Cashmere, the world’s first socially and environmentally conscious cashmere fashion brand, has successfully launched a kickstarter campaign to help fund their mission. The company's innovative and disruptive approach is radically changing the cashmere industry by making cashmere more affordable to style-conscious individuals, while giving back to the nomadic Mongolian herders that are at the base of the supply chain.
In 2010, co-founders Matthew Scanlan and Diederik Rijsemus started the company after Diederik's eye-opening semester abroad in Mongolia. The demands of the cashmere industry coupled with severe weather shifts generated by climate change are affecting this region worse than anywhere else on the planet, killing livestock that harvest the cashmere fiber overnight and destroying the livelihood of thousands of nomadic herding families who are forced to move away and many times, thrust into a brutal life of mining.
Impacted by his experience, Diederik approached Matthew in their college dorm room to create a solution.
Naadam Cashmere's business model re-invests ten percent of all their profits into the World Bank's livestock insurance program, which protects Mongolian nomadic herders from climate-related loses to their livestock, allowing them to continue with their millenary tradition for generations to come. These traditional herding methods keep livestock on the move, promoting holistic grazing which prevents soil erosion, helps keep plants alive and adds nutrients back into the soil for a sustainable and environmentally friendly cycle.
Naadam’s garments are designed in New York and manufactured in Mongolia by nomadic herders, using 100 percent Mongolian cashmere. “Naadam is designed to reflect our generation’s nomadic lifestyle while at the same time fundamentally changing the luxury fashion industry,” said Matthew Scanlan, co-founder of Naadam Cashmere.
“This is a collection that embodies a generation defined by people that are resourceful, adaptive, fashionable and, most importantly, conscious of the things they own.”
Hundreds have already joined the movement and are making a difference by pledging to Naadam's Kickstarter page. With the campaign deadline approaching, Naadam hopes to continue the momentum to raise their goal of $150,000 to help transform the industry and make a remarkable impact on the lives of hundreds of nomadic herding families in Mongolia. Naadam will be selling garments at wholesale prices until May 15th, which is also the last day to contribute and become part of the movement.
“It’s about more than sales,” states Scanlan. “We’re getting the word out about Naadam, but also telling the story of the Mongolian herders who carry this worldwide, multimillion-dollar industry, yet find themselves struggling at the mercy of worsening local economic conditions. They benefit from every garment sold. We make sure of it. And when you buy Naadam, you are a part of that.”
Quintessentially Lifestyle opens to cater to affluent in Mongolia
May 2 (Campaign Asia-Pacific) Qunitessentially Lifestyle says it follows where its members go, and many of these global travellers like to visit lands of opportunity, yet still want the 'essential' services provided for the super affluent. Quintessentially Lifestyle Mongolia officially opened on 29 March with a ...
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Mongolia signs Partnership & Cooperation Agreement with EU
May 1 (news.mn) The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, L.Bold and the Vice President of the European Commission Ms. Catherine Ashton met for bilateral talks in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ulaanbaatar on April 30th.
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union and the Vice President of the European Commission, Ms. Catherine Ashton, who is making an official visit to Mongolia, attended the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies.
During the bilateral talks, both parties emphasized cooperation based on mutual understanding and that values of democracy between Mongolia, EU and its member countries are diversifying with varied content as a result of bilateral efforts.
Further, both parties agreed as part of long term strategic goals, including foreign policy, Mongolia ensures to progressively develop cooperation and relations with EU and its member countries in every sector. This historical visit representing the EU, Mongolia`s third neighbor, is for strengthening bilateral trusts and culturing cooperation, keeping the tradition of negotiation and bilateral talks and improving the gains of cooperation.
Within the talks, Mongolia and EU signed the “Agreement of Partnership and Cooperation” and the “Efforts for Cultivation of Mongolia`s Standardization system”
Signing the Agreement of Partnership and Cooperation opened new possibilities in Mongolia to develop cooperation and partnership with EU and its 27 member countries on a new level.
Vote for justice in Malaysia, says slain Altantuya’s dad
PETALING JAYA, May 2 (Free Malaysia Today) Seven years have passed since the gruesome murder that sent shockwaves throughout the nation. But it continues to haunt the political arena.
The life of a beautiful, young woman had been tragically robbed. She was shot, and her remains blown up with explosives.
Despite his repeated denials, there are those who still believe that the blood trail leads right up to Najib Tun Razak’s doorstep.
Even in this general election, the spectre of Altantuya Shaaribuu has been summoned, with her posters and images appearing on the campaign trail to remind the people of that macabre episode.
The high-profile trial revealed that Abdul Razak Baginda, a close confidant of Najib, who was later acquitted of abetting the murder, had an intimate relationship with the Mongolian national.
She had served as a translator in the procurement of two French submarines for the Malaysian navy when Najib held the defence portfolio. Razak Baginda’s firm was also involved.
Known as the Scorpene deal, the contract was mired in controversy and is now the subject of a French judicial investigation.
Two officers from the police’s elite special operations force were sentenced to death for the murder. However, the court never established a motive, pouring more fuel into the blazing speculation.
Back then, there was also talk of how former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his infamous fourth floor advisers were using the case to checkmate Najib in Umno’s game of thrones.
It was also claimed that Najib’s controversy-magnet wife, Rosmah Mansor, also played an important role in the murder. These charges have been dismissed as slander spewed by the opposition.
‘Vote for justice’
And with less than 72 hours to go before the 13th general election, a statement from Altantunya’s father has been made available to the media.
In the brief statement, Setev Shaariibuu pointed out that his daughter’s birthday falls on May 6, a day after the election.
“I would like to ask all Malaysian people to vote [for] justice,” he said.
Setev said that since 2006, his two grandchildren, Altantuya’s sons, had been denied their right to use the word “mother”.
“Since the murder, we Mongolians have been waiting for an apology from Malaysia. The children have been waiting for support from Mr Najib for seven years,” he added.
On the same note, Setev stressed on the need for a new trial to get justice.
Looking for closure
Meanwhile, Suaram’s Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, who forwarded the statement, said she met Setev when she went to Mongolia last week for a conference.
“I briefed him on the Scorpene inquiry in France, and he was glad to know that things were moving, hoping that it would help shed some light on his daughter’s murder.
“He is still in pain and he is looking for closure. He has been asking the Mongolian government to do something about the case. He has written countless letters, some of which have been published in the newspapers there,” she told FMT.
Fadiah said that Setev penned the statement because he wanted to share his thoughts on the elections in Malaysia.
“He wanted to say something because he knows that the Altantuya issue is still very much alive here and he is grateful that there are Malaysians who are still seeking the truth,” she added.
This general election, described as the mother of all electoral battles, has ignited speculation that BN might lose its more than five-decade-old grip on federal power.
Sagging under the weight of numerous allegations of corruption and abuse of power, observers claim that a wind of change is gaining traction as polling nears.
Thai govt to boost trade with Mongolia
May 4 (Bangkok Post) The value of bilateral trade and investment between Thailand and Mongolia will be increased by two folds in the next three years, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said.
Speaking on her “Yingluck Government Meets the People” weekly programme on NBT on Saturday morning, Ms Yingluck said the two countries jointly agreed that the bilateral trade and investment should be promoted.
Ms Yingluck, on April 27-19, paid an official visit to Mongolia to strengthen trade and investment ties. She is the first Thai Prime Minister to visit the country.
The premier said Mongolia wanted Thailand to open direct flights between the two countries and she will coordinate with local airlines to assess a feasibility of running the aviation service business as invited.
Regarding the criticism on her speech given to the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in Mongolia, Ms Yingluck said it was just a sharing of democratic experience.
Ms Yingluck said she had told the meeting about democratic development in Thailand over the past ten years, and assured that the her government would put utmost effort to strengthen democratic system in Thailand.
Ms Yingluck said the 2010 political violence is a bitter lesson and that she does not want any recurrence of such bloodshed. She did not want to see people being suffered from calling for a real democracy again.
The prime minister promised that she would do her best to provide all needed assistance for the people suffering from the political unrest and to bring about national reconciliation to allow the country to move forward.
Thailand and Mongolia aim to double trade in next 3 years
BANGKOK, 5 May 2013 (NNT) - Thailand has set a goal to double the Thai-Mongolian trade value in the next three years and expressed readiness to help Mongolia in various fields.
Speaking about her recent visit to Mongolia in her weekly TV program on Saturday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Mongolia is an interesting country for business investment. To achieve the goal of doubled trade value, the two countries would strengthen ties in terms of trade, investment, science, education, public health and tourism. Thailand would also promote investment in mining in Mongolia, PM Yingluck said.
Ms Yingluck added that Thailand would give Mongolia its tourism know-how for the production of personnel in the hospitality sector. One of the initiatives between the two countries was to develop dual degrees together, the PM said.
Mongolia was keen to allow Thailand to fly directly to Mongolia with hopes to boost business between them. The two countries would also develop alternative energies and promote the use of Thai silk to make clothes.
Commerce Ministry proposes setting up of JTC to promote Thai-Mongolian trade
BANGKOK, 3 May 2013 (Pattaya Mail) The Commerce Ministry is proposing the establishment of a joint trade committee to promote economic ties between Thailand and Mongolia.
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said that, during his trip to Mongolia, he met with the country’s Minister of Economic Development and Minister of Industry and Trade, and all have shown strong determination to strengthen trade and investment ties between the two nations.
Mr. Boonsong was part of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s delegation to Mongolia during April 27-29.
The Commerce Minister stated Mongolia is now considered an economy with high potential, due to its political stability, rich mineral resources and strong GDP growth. The country grew 12.6 percent in 2012 while the double-digit growth rate is forecast for the next 10 years.
He added that, during his meeting, a proposal on the setting up of the Thailand-Mongolia Joint Trade Committee (JTC) was made.
Mr. Boonsong said the JTC was proposed to be a formal stage for both nations to discuss economic, trade and investment ties, and to solve any obstacles they may face.
Currently, Mongolia is Thailand’s 158th biggest trading partner, with annual bilateral trade value of approximately 12.07 million US dollars.
Belarusian dictatorship on agenda in Mongolia
May 2 (Charter’97) The VII Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies took place in Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar on 27-29 April.
More than 1200 delegates from 104 countries of the world participated in the conference. Among them there were well-known public figures and politicians: Mongolian president Cahiagiyn Elbegdorj; High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union Catherine Ashton; chairperson of the Burmese National League for Democracy Aung San Suu Kyi; Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt; prime-minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra; vice-president of Costa-Rica Alfio Piva Mesén; UN Deputy Secretary General Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev; Nobel Peace Prize laureate, human rights activist from Yemen Tawakkol Karman; vice prime minister and foreign minister of Slovakia Miroslav Lajčák; foreign minister of Czech Karel Schwarzenberg; foreign minister of Kyrgyzstan Erlan Abdyldaev; foreign ministers of Indonesia, Salvador, Tunis; executive director of the European Endowment for Democracy Jerzy Pomianowski; president of the Polish Foundation of International Solidarity Krzysztof Stanowski etc.
Lukashenka’s regime is the reason why Belarus is not a member of the Community of Democracies. Nevertheless, the civil society of our country was represented at the Forum by coordinator of the civil campaign European Belarus Uladzimir Kobiets, director of the information office Solidarity with Belarus Yulia Slutskaya and director of the Belarusian House of human rights in Vilnius Ganna Gierasimava.
A range of topics have been discussed at the conference: education for democracy, corruption, “Arab spring”, freedom of press and Internet. Yulia Slutskaya was speaking about the situation with press and Internet in Belarus. She emphasized how crucial the Internet is in Belarus where there is no independent television, and the few independent papers with limited circulations can be shut down at any moment. She mentioned the silent protest rallies of 2011 against the economic crisis, that were coordinated via social media and forums of independent websites.
During the conference, Aung San Suu Kyi received the prize of Bronisław Geremek, and former ambassador of Sweden to Belarus Stefan Eriksson was awarded with the international Mark Palmer Prize for his work in Belarus.
Belarus was the focus of a separate meeting within the conference. The meeting was attended by representatives from Belarus as well as general secretary of the Community of Democracies Maria Leissner, foreign minister of Czech Karel Schwarzenberg, chairperson of the Polish Fund of International Solidarity Krzysztof Stanowski, representatives of the foreign ministries of the members of the Community, diplomats, representatives of international NGOs. The participants of the meeting discussed the situation in Belarus, measures directed at release of the political prisoners and solution to the Belarusian problem in general. Moreover, the Belarusian participants urged the European Union to eliminate visa regime for the Belarusian citizens as soon as possible.
During the conference, the Belarusian representatives have held a range of important meetings with high European officials, heads of states and governments, representatives of international NGOs, civil activists from different countries of the world.
Thus, in a conversation with the coordinator of the civil campaign European Belarus, Mongolian president Cahiagiyn Elbegdorjsaid that he is well aware of the situation with human rights in Belarus, and expressed his support of the Belarusian fighters for freedom.
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union Catherine Ashton shared her opinion concerning the sanctions and the political prisoners with the Belarusians delegates.
“Of course, for me, the Belarusian issue was the most important on the agenda. It is crucial that the states that previously had not taken any interest in our country have joined the discussion around the dictatorship in Belarus. I was talking about the need to keep a firm position regarding the Belarusian regime until the political prisoners are released and rehabilitated. After that, a serious conversation about structural reforms and free elections can begin.
But let me say something about Mongolia. The country situated between Russia and China demonstrates amazing dynamics in different spheres, from democratic rights and freedoms to economy. More than 7000 NGOs operate here, and according to the Freedom House, Mongolia is just one point behind Sweden in terms of rights and freedoms,” Uladzimir Kobiets commented on the results of the conference to charter97.org.
MONGOLIA TO LEASE 10 HA OF LAND IN TIANJIN FREE TRADE ZONE
May 29 (InfoMongolia) On April 27, 2013, the Cabinet of the Government held its regular meeting and in the scope of implementing a state policy on freight transportations the following measure was taken in order to increase possibilities of sea outlet and accelerate an export-import good circulation.
In the frames of co-implementing a freight logistics project with China, “Mongolian Railway” JSC will represent the Government of Mongolia with its priority rights and it was resolved to co-utilize 10 ha of land for 50 years of term in the territory of Dongjiang Port Zone of north-east of Tianjin Free Trade Zone, where the financial issues for Mongolia’s part will be resolved by the Central Bank of Mongolia and the Ministry of Road and Transportation.
Also, the Minister of Road and Transportation of Mongolia was obliged to establish an agreement and negotiations with Chinese authorities on increasing the capacity of freight transportation via rail and auto roads between Mongolian border ports and Port of Tianjin.
Mongolia’s nearest sea outlet is the Port of Tianjin, where over 70% of Mongolia’s export-import good circulation is made via this port.
China-Mongolia Friendship School becomes bridge: educator
ULAN BATOR, May 3 (Xinhua) -- The China-Mongolia Friendship School has become a social bridge between China and Mongolia, a Chinese educator said here Friday.
The school has trained students generation after generation for 50 years and has laid a solid foundation for their lives, said Principal Jiang Xianmei.
Jiang, speaking at the graduation ceremony for 11th-grade students, also said that the students were an honor to the school and their presence in the classroom would be remembered forever.
Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese ambassador to Mongolia, said at the ceremony that he hoped the new graduates would continue to strive to learn, increase their abilities, become talents of the national and social development, become friendly messengers of China and Mongolia, and make a positive contribution to the friendship between the two countries.
Peru, Mongolia agree visa waiver for diplomats
Lima, May 01 (ANDINA). Peru and Mongolia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to mutually lift visa requirements for diplomatic and official passport holders.
Peruvian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Mongolia, Gonzalo Gutierrez Reinel, and Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luvsanvandan Bold met on Tuesday to exchange views on mutual partnerships, particular in the sectors of culture and mining.
During the meeting they signed a Memorandum of Understanding "that abolishes visa requirements for holders of diplomatic and official national passports for both countries."
The document states that nationals of either contracting party holding valid diplomatic or official passports may travel to the territory of the other contracting party without a visa for a period not exceeding thirty (30) days.
Mongolia and Peru established diplomatic relations on May 30, 1997.
7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies Showcases Mongolia’s Democratic Transition
May 1 (The Asia Foundation) Against the background of Mongolia’s famous blue sky, around 1,215 delegates from 104 countries gathered in Ulaanbaatar to participate in the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies (CD) from April 27- 29, 2013, organized under Mongolia’s Presidency of the CD, which started in July 2011.
After an opening ceremony on April 27 led by Mongolian Prime Minister N. Altankhuyag, who highlighted the country’s democratic achievements and a group picture in front of the Chinggis Khaan statue at Sukhbaatar square, participants broke off to attend the fora of the five CD pillars: Civil Society, Youth, Parliamentary, Women, and Business. The Asia Foundation, through the USAID-funded “Supporting Mongolia’s Presidency of the Community of Democracies” Project, provided assistance to both the Parliamentary and Women’s forums.
At the joint meeting on the final day, chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, President Tsakhia Elbegdorj spoke of his country’s long road to democracy as well as how new democratic practices such as direct democracy and citizen participation increasingly are gaining momentum in Mongolia. He reiterated Mongolia’s role as a friend and its willingness to assist other countries that are transitioning to democracy. Thailand’s Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, spoke about the democratic struggles that her country has undergone and emphasized that these are not yet over, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi expressed her gratitude for the support of the international community to the people of Burma in their fight for democracy, emphasizing that Burma has made the choice to transition towards democracy but still has a long way to go to become a full-fledged democracy. She also reminded that democracy brings with it not only rights, but also responsibilities and should be seen as a continuous learning process. She was later presented with the Geremek award in remembrance of the late Professor Bronislaw Geremek, one of the co-founders of the CD. Other speakers included Nobel Prize Laureate Tawakkol Karman from Yemen, UN Under-Secretary General, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Bill Burns, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security, Baroness Catherine Ashton, and the Vice President of Nigeria, Namadi Sambo.
During a plenary session on “Threats against Civil Society and Freedom of Expression,” several speakers outlined the worrisome trend by which many governments around the world are imposing restrictions on civil society and the use of internet. Parallel thematic sessions were held on “Democracy Education,” “Corruption and other Threats to Democracy,” “Arab Spring after 2 Years: Lessons and Challenges,” “Democracy and the MDGs,” and “Online and Press Freedom.”
The Parliamentary Forum for Democracy (PFD) provided a space for legislators to share their experiences and best practices. This is just what a legislator from Libya was seeking. He noted how during the country’s recent revolution, freedom was the only concern; now his fellow parliamentarians face the harder challenge of building institutions and practices in line with the democratic values he and his fellow citizens fought for.
This year’s PFD focused on the debilitating effects of corruption. Legislators heard how corruption is a complex issue, resulting from weaknesses in laws, regulations, monitoring, enforcement, deterrence, institutions, and the political will to address it. Participants created a five-point plan for parliamentarians to address corruption:
· An anti-corruption paradigm shift to place more emphasis on the outcomes and results of anti-corruption efforts rather than focusing on the laws and institutions that address anti-corruption;
· Coalition strengthening among parliamentary and anti-corruption networks;
· Peer-to-peer review by parliamentarians across countries to allow for informal comment and positive advice on how a state can improve its anti-corruption efforts;
· Ensuring access to information legislation allows for citizen monitoring of all aspects of government income and expenditure; and
· Ending secrecy clauses in government-private sector contracts.
The Women’s Forum, organized by the Women’s Caucus of Parliamentarians, the National Committee on Gender Equality and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focused this year on the challenges women face in political representation at the national and local level, challenges still common in many of the countries represented. Parallel sessions on “Democracy and Women’s Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment,” “Women’s Role in Preventing Corruption and Promoting Transparency,” “Democratizing and Engendering Culture,” and “Stronger Systems, Institutions and Processes for Stronger Voices” provided a platform for further discussion on women’s positive role in addressing issues such as poverty, human rights violations, conflicts, and corruption.
The forum developed a statement calling for action by the members of the CD in four key areas:
· Endorsing women’s property rights, ensuring access to finance, and ensuring equal wages, as well as recognition of unpaid work;
· Increasing research and independent monitoring of the impact of corruption using a gender lens, and strengthening of women’s anti-corruption networks;
· Creation of a culture of gender equality, free from gender-based stereotypes and gender-based violence in all sectors of society, including media, education, and domestic life; and
· Increasing and honoring gender quotas for elected and nominated positions within national and local governments and political parties, and actions to ensure fair financing of political campaigns of women and men in part through campaign finance and political party reform, including political party financing.
After the fora, plenary sessions were held on “Harnessing Open Governance for Democracy,” “Supporting Democratic Transitions: Insights from the CD Task Forces in Moldova and Tunisia and Lessons for Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan,” and “Women and Democracy.” At the closing session, representatives of each of the five pillars of the Community of Democracies presented the resolutions prepared during the different fora and the Ulaanbaatar Declaration of the CD was adopted. Mongolia also handed over its presidency of the CD to El Salvador, which will assume leadership on July 1, 2013.
Mongolia can look back at a very successful presidency over the last two years, during which it gave new impetus to the CD and was able to make significant progress in the priority areas of its presidency. The 7th Ministerial Conference provided an opportunity to showcase to the world the important progress Mongolia has made since its democratic transition in 1990 and share important lessons learned with current and aspiring democracies around the world.
Watch a new video, developed by The Asia Foundation, that features interviews with Mongolians across the country on what democracy means for them, how democracy has developed since Mongolia’s democratic transition, and views on the CD. The video has been produced in support of Mongolia’s Presidency of the CD through funding from the Embassy of the United States in Mongolia. The Asia Foundation was the first international nonprofit organization to be invited into Mongolia following the democratic transition in 1990. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Foundation in Mongolia since it opened its office on October 1, 1993.
Meloney C. Lindberg is The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Mongolia, Jeremy Gross is a Foundation consultant based in Indonesia who has worked in Mongolia to support the Ministerial Conference, and Tirza Theunissen is the program and operations manager. They can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.
Mongolia university to establish Indonesia study center
May 3 (The Jakarta Post) The National University of Mongolia plans to set up a study center to introduce Indonesia to the Mongolian public, says the university's vice president, Gerelt Od Lkhagvasuren.
He gave the news to Indonesian Ambassador to China and Mongolia Imron Cotan in Ulan Bator, on the sidelines of the seventh conference of the Community of Democracies on April 30, as reported by Antara news agency.
The university has prepared the building, lecturers and other facilities for the study center, the Indonesian Embassy in Beijing said in a press statement on Friday.
Lkhagvasuren has asked for the ambassador's support for the establishment of the study center.
Ambassador Cotan said he was prepared to facilitate student-lecturer exchange programs between Indonesia and Mongolia as well as offering the latest reference books to the university.
The Indonesian Embassy and the National University of Mongolia plan to organize seminars on the bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Mongolia in June and September of this year.
In return, Mongolian university's students will be offered scholarships to study in Indonesia under the Developing Countries' Technical Cooperation program.
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Social, Environmental and Other
T. Rex Troubles: The Last Dino Legal Battle
May 5 (LiveScience) Almost a year ago, headlines proclaiming the sale of a largely complete T. rex-like dinosaur sparked an international custody battle that featured a confrontation at a public auction, a federal seizure of the fossils, charges related to smuggling against Eric Prokopi, the man who attempted to sell them — and, finally, his guilty plea.
This case appears to be winding down. Prokopi is awaiting sentencing, and during a ceremony in New York City on Monday (May 6), Mongolia — the country from which Prokopi admitted he took the ill-gotten fossils— will take formal possession of the finds.
This is not the first time a fight over a prize dinosaur grabbed national attention and was followed by a criminal case.
More than 20 years ago, a team led by Peter Larson of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research discovered and excavated what was at the time the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex specimen ever found. The dinosaur, named Sue after the woman who first spotted its fossils, became the focus of an ownership dispute, which caught the attention of federal prosecutors. [Image Gallery: The Life of Tyrannosaurus Rex]
Sue's story ended at an auction in 1997, where the dinosaur sold for a landmark $8.36 million.
While the two cases share some obvious similarities, Larson expresses no sympathy for Prokopi, the fossil hunter and dealer at the center of the current case, describing it as "something very different from the Sue case."
Tyrannosaurus Sue's saga
Sue and Larson's story began in South Dakota in August 1990, when fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson discovered the T. rex in a cliff on a ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation.
An ownership dispute involving the institute, the rancher and the tribe arose. This caught the attention of the U.S. Attorney's office in South Dakota, which was already investigating allegations the institute had taken fossils from public lands. The National Guard carted Sue away from the Black Hills Institute in Hill City, S.D., prompting an outcry from residents of the town, where the institute planned to establish a museum displaying the dinosaur, according to an account in Steve Fiffer's "Tyrannosaurus Sue" (W.H. Freeman and Company, 2000).
The feds later slapped Larson, his colleagues and the institute with an array of charges related to collecting and selling fossils. None of the charges concerned Sue, and only a handful resulted in convictions. [Image Gallery: Amazing Dinosaur Fossils]
Larson pleaded not guilty, but was convicted of two felonies for customs' violations for failing to report cash and traveler's checks, as well as two misdemeanors, for which he received a two-year prison term. He has since returned to paleontology and the helm of the Black Hills Institute. Larson discusses the legal case and the discovery of Sue and other T. rex specimens in the book "Rex Appeal" (Invisible Cities Press, 2004), co-authored with Kristin Donnan.
In 1997, the auction house Sotheby's sold Sue at a public auction. The sale was unprecedented, and an article in The New York Times contained speculation the specimen would fetch "upward of $1 million." In fact, the dinosaur sold for a total of $8.36 million to The Field Museum in Chicago.
A Mongolian dinosaur in America
Two decades later, Prokopi hoped to capitalize on the high prices that a prehistoric predator could attract. He imported rough, fossilized remains of a Tarbosaurus bataar from a dealer in England, prepared and mounted them. He placed the finished, 8-foot-tall and 24-foot-long (2.4 meters by 7.3 meters) Tarbosaurus bataar with Heritage Auctions for an auction scheduled to occur on May 20 last year. (Tarbosaurus was an Asian relative of the North American T. rex.)
News of the sale sparked protest from the Mongolian President, Elbegdorj Tsakhia,who said the specimen had likely been taken illegally from his country, whose laws designate all fossils as state property. Paleontologists supported this claim, saying that all nearly complete Tarbosaurus specimens have been recovered from a rock formation in Mongolia's share of the Gobi Desert. Federal prosecutors seized the Tarbosaurus, Prokopi fought to keep the dinosaur, and prosecutors charged him with crimes related to smuggling theTarbosaurus and other fossils into the country.
"If you are exporting from a certain country, you should know the laws," Larson said. "It is just a standard thing everybody should do."
Although Mongolian regulations do not allow for the export of fossils excavated within the country's borders, fossils known to come from Mongolia began appearing on the market in the United States at least 10 years ago, Larson said.
In December, Prokopi pleaded guilty to charges related to fossil smuggling. The plea should help stop the plundering of Mongolian fossil sites, Larson said. "And that's a good thing."
These smuggled fossils arrive without crucial information about where they were found, creating problems if paleontologists want to study the remains. For example, researchers, including Larson, disagree on the identity of a small dinosaur sold to an American collector without a known origin.
If excavated in China, the dinosaur may be a miniature ancestor to T. rex and Tarbosaurus, one side argues. Meanwhile, Larson and others say these fossils are more likely to represent a young Tarbosaurus from Mongolia.
"The scientific conclusions are completely different depending on where it is from," Larson said.
Paleontology & capitalism
In a statement Prokopi released in June, he described federal prosecutors' involvement as an effort "to please a foreign government out for a political trophy." Later, in an interview for The New Yorker magazine conducted after his plea, Prokopi emphasized how commonTarbosaurus fossils are and suggested that the finds were exported from Mongolia with the sanction of that country's officials, in spite of its law.
Regardless of Prokopi's defense, both this case and Sue's call attention to the divide between academic and commercial paleontology. Some academics believe the sale of fossils harms science, although museums often acquire specimens from commercial paleontologists.
Prokopi addresses the hostile response that he said news of the Tarbosaurus' sale provoked, writing in his statement: "Do people really think everything they see in a museum was found and prepared by the people that work there? The truth is many spectacular finds in paleontology have been privately funded."
Although he works in the fossil business, Larson straddles the divide to some degree, collaborating with academic paleontologists on research and authoring scientific publications.
"I am a capitalist, too," he said. "I think it's very important. People need to make a living. [But] they need to do it legally, whether they agree with the law or not. If not, it hurts everybody. It hurts the science, it hurts the public who are cheated from not being able to see the specimen.
"[The fossils] deserve respect. They are part of the history of life on the planet, and they are not just something to tear apart because you can," he said.
Three suspected Pakistani terrorists arrested in Ulaanbaatar
May 1 (news.mn) The General Intelligence Agency and State Investigation Department agents have arrested three suspected terrorists of Pakistan origin who are believed to be linked with international homicide and terrorism.
The Police and Special Force agents were in a state of good preparedness to provide security for over 1000 foreign ministers and representatives in Ulaanbaatar during the 7th Ministerial Conference of Community of Democracies on April 27-29th.
In Ulaanbaatar on April 28th, because of the high alert on security, the General Intelligence Agency and State Investigation Department jointly raided three terrorist suspects; Ramzan Hafiz Mohammed, born 1974 and Mohammed Ramzan Mohammed Bakhsh, born in 1969, who are under investigation by the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) for Pakistan. The third was Hayat Hizar Mohammed Ramzan, born in 1983, under investigation by the U.S. National Central Bureau in Washington.
Two of these three suspects have been investigated for being involved with international homicide and terrorism.
Hayat Hizar was charged for 1.2 level theft case by the Suffolk County Court in New York.
They entered Mongolia with business and tourist visas. The reason behind their arrival in Mongolia is still uncertain.
Mongolia’s Human Development Index: How accurate is it?
By JERICK AGUILAR
May 1 (UB Post) I cannot say that I am an economist by profession since I have not been formally practicing it since I left America for my PhD (in Social Policy) in the UK 12 years ago. But I have always been intrigued by statistics and trends of various countries – particularly of the ones I have lived and worked in. The figures are annually look out for are the United Nation’s Human Development Indices (HDI). Their 2013 report already came out and the first few pages I turned to were the last ones on the country summaries of their HDIs.
Since 1990, the United Nations Human Development Programme (UNDP) has been computing the HDI in both developed and developing countries. The HDI is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income measures that serves as an indication of improvements in the quality of life of the country’s citizens. The measurement of education is two-fold with the use of the adult literacy rate and gross enrollment ratio. This index is based on the assumption that human development is not just dependent on one’s salary or wages, but also on how long he lives, how literate he is, and how many years of education he has completed.
For the year 2012, the latest statistics show that Mongolia’s HDI is at 0.675 (1.0 is the highest). It is ranked as a country with Medium Human Development, as opposed to those who are classified as Very High, High, and Low. Norway is classified as Very High with an HDI of 0.96. This country is actually No. 1 in the year’s list of more than 183 countries and has consistently been in the top spot since 2009. Mongolia is ranked No. 108, up two rankings from last year and still (a little) below the world average of 0.69. As a reference, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger both rank last at No. 186 with an HDI of 0.30.
Looking at Mongolia’s statistics from 1980 and each HDI component, life expectancy then was only at 57.3 years old. In short, most people lived up to that age. After more than 10 years, the improved difference is worth nothing since, nowadays, human life continues, on average, at the age of 68.8. The biggest improvement was from the year 2000 until 2005 when life expectancy increased by more than three years. In fact, there has not been any decrease in this figure since 1980 which just goes to prove that people are becoming much healthier in the country as the years go by.
In terms of the mean years of schooling of a Mongolian (the only statistics on education that is available during this time period), it was only 5.7 in 1980. The figure drastically increased to 8.3 in 2010. The biggest increase was from 1985 to 1990 when the average Mongolian went to school for one more year. Even though this improvement was consistent until two years ago, there was a steady increase in the number of years that Mongolia’s citizens go to school. This evidently shows that Mongolians are becoming more and more educated as time passes.
The third HDI component is income, and it is this statistic that has shown the fastest and largest increase in the country. Twenty-two years ago, a Mongolian earned an average salary of 2,257 USD (based on the adjusted purchasing power parity in 2005 – nothing high falutin here as it only makes the comparisons valid by taking out inflation in the figures). In 2012, this amount significantly went up to 4,245 USD. In other words, there was an 88 percent increase during more than two decades in Mongolia. Economic growth has, in fact, trickled down to majority of the population.
Yes, the abovementioned figures tell us a success story that human development in Mongolia has improved a lot over more than a twenty-year period. People are now living a longer life than before, more years of education have been added to the average Mongolian, and the incomes of most of the country’s citizens have almost doubled. But how accurate are these figures? How true and successful is this story? The problem with averages is that they fail to show the whole picture. Simple arithmetic explains that if, for example, people who already have high incomes receive an even higher income, the average increases even though those with middle or low incomes do not get a salary increase.
I have not been in Mongolia long enough to experience for myself and to see from those around me these positive changes that its HDI indices over the years suggest. I did remember speaking with an expat who started living in this country 10 years ago, and she recounted to me how there were still horses with carriages on the streets of Ulaanbaatar. These days, you never see them anymore as they have been replaced with cars. Parking is a big problem in the capital and pollution, even bigger. So does this mean that Mongolians are much better off? That their quality of life has increased?
My students have also told me how very, very few people knew how to speak English many years ago. Moving forward to the present time, most of the students know the language and you can stop some people on the street and they can understand your simple questions in English. I even got inside a number of taxi where the driver asked me, in my native language, where I am from and what I am doing here in Mongolia. If this is a positive sign of improved education outcomes in Mongolia, then maybe the HDI figures, particularly in terms of schooling, do show some part of reality in the country.
Beyond the statistics, the concept and measure of human development cannot be limited to numbers alone. I received an undergraduate degree in Economics but I am still not convinced that the improvement in one’s quality of life is calculated only by life expectancy, years of education, and income. Personally, human development can be equated to happiness and one’s satisfaction in his life. With all of the happy and smiling faces of Mongolians I encounter in my work and outside in my free time, it is probably the case that Mongolia is, indeed, a country with Medium Human Development, if not at all High.
Film: The Reindeer People: A Dream's Last Chance
The inspiring story of a Mongolian mother and daughter pursuing an old dream to an ancient land to save a language and its people.
May 4 (Indiegogo) --
THE REINDEER PEOPLE: A DREAM'S LAST CHANCE
is the story of a mother, her daughter, and two very unusual dreams. A tale of love and loss, survival and death, a Mongolian mother and daughter face nearly insurmountable obstacles to pursue what's most important to them. And in the end, what's important to them just may save the fabric of an entire culture.
A few years ago, in the north of Mongolia, in one of the most remote inhabited regions on our planet, a Mongolian mother had to make a choice. She had to choose between letting her young daughter pursue her dream, or pursuing her own. As a parent, she knew what she had to do. So, along with her daughter and husband, they moved the family to the Mongolian capital. This would have devastating consequences: poverty, sickness, and even her husband's murder (he'd left home only to earn enough money to buy his daughter an outfit and was robbed and murdered). Eventually, the daughter achieved her dream, and the mother had never been more proud. But it also got her to thinking - about that old dream she'd left behind all those years ago. Could she pursue it? Was she willing to return to her homeland and all that she'd left behind?
This summer, the mother will return to her home in the Taiga to pursue her old dream to teach Tuva, the native language there. Tuva is spoken by a very small community of Reindeer Herders, and without a teacher to support it, the language will fade away. Without language, the community itself is in danger of fading away too. It's the mother's dream to go home and fight this, to save the very fabric of her culture.
Won't you help us tell her story?
WHO WE ARE
Morpheus Pictures founders Patricia Sexton and Gabriel Garcia Rosa have been telling stories of people following their dreams for many years. Together, they work for Sinovision's WE Talk, a television talk show profiling celebrity artists who've overcome great obstacles to pursue their passion. Patricia is the author of "LIVE from Mongolia!", the true story of leaving Wall Street to become the Mongolian news anchor. Gabriel has been making independent films since 2008 and has worked on two feature films.
WHAT WE NEED
We need $40,000 to make this happen. We've worked really hard to get our costs down from an initial estimate of $100,000. Some people working with us are donating services; some are taking reduced pay. Here's a breakdown for three weeks in Mongolia and post-production:
Personnel costs amount to 35% of our budget: two cameramen, one sound guy, an editor for pre- and post-production, a translator, and a fixer.
Equipment costs amount to 20% of our budget, and this is low because a lot of it is being borrowed. Still, we need: boom mike, mixer, LAVs, lights, mini-generator, monitors, battery packs, and protective raingear. Some will be rented, some purchased.
Travel expenses are approximately 45%: flights to China then Mongolia, internal Mongolian flights, drivers in Mongolia, rented horses, accommodation in the capital and in teepes in the Taiga.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
First, thank you. Thank you for considering our proposal, the mother's dream, and our dream to tell this story. So, how can you help? Well, every dollar counts. Please donate. If you can't donate, please spread the word. Please share on Facebook (facebook.com/MorpheusPictures) and on Twitter (twitter.com/MorpheusPics). Indiegogo also has "share" tools all over the site - for each share, we'll do a happy dance. Honestly, I promise.
Health Care in Mongolia
Field Notes from Batnorov soum
Caroline Ga Hye Kim
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
(The Journal of Global Health) --
Once familiar to me only as the birth land of the great Genghis Khan (and as a place where babies learn to ride horses before they walk), Mongolia struck me with a kind of surreal beauty. Tall, dry grass covered the expansive plains that steeped into gently rolling hills. Overhead, cartoon-shaped clouds bobbed along peacefully, hanging so low it seemed that if I reached out my hand and jumped, I could touch them. Spread out on the plains like drops of paint were flimsy wooden houses and gehrs, the traditional lodging of Mongolians. The scenery was so picturesque that when I first arrived in Batnorov this past August, I almost forgot why I had come to Mongolia in the first place.
I was accompanying the Korean Open Doctors Society as a student volunteer on their annual trip to Mongolia. Korean Open Doctors Society is a secular, non-governmental organization committed to providing health care both in Korea and abroad. Since its modest inception in 1997, the humanitarian-based organization has made over 140 international and countless domestic medical aid trips. Although its countries of target are numerous, Open Doctors has a special connection to Mongolia in that the organization first started from an informal volunteer trip made to Mongolia by its founding members. Since then, they have returned every year—often more than once to different parts of the country—and have built a strong connection with the local population. This particular trip to the Batnorov district was their 25th Mongolian mission.
In a village of dirt roads and no running water, where the grandest building resembled a run-down convenience store from rural Alabama in the 1940s, there was one structure that was rather sturdy and seemingly permanent—the Batnorovsum Hospital. Set off from the rest of the village by white fences and topped with a bright cherry red roof, the hospital stood towering over all other buildings (although “towering” is a relative term–it only had two floors). The interior of the hospital was even more impressive: clean, white floors with freshly painted walls and fluorescent ceiling lights that screamed “STERILE.” However, the impressive exterior belied the truth, for the hospital was barren—quite literally, empty. No beds, no equipment, no furniture, not even a medicine cabinet.
The Batnorov sum Hospital is not very different from other hospitals in poor sums (translated as rural districts in Mongolian). A sum is the second level administrative subdivision of Mongolia after aimag, the first level division. The nation of Mongolia is divided into 21 aimags, which are subsequently divided into 329 sums. A sum has 4,200 km2 of territory on average and is home to about 5000 inhabitants, mostly nomadic herders.
Since the discontinuation of aid from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, a lack of funding has resulted in a shortage of medical supplies, fuel and other resources in Mongolia (Manaseki, 1993). However, as the edifice of the Batnorov hospital suggests, Mongolia should in no way be simply written off as another destitute Third World country. Being a centrally-planned economy that was suddenly plunged into a market economy without guidance, Mongolia has struggled with complex issues of “Soviet-ized” health care infrastructure and is currently still in transition.
History of Health Care in Mongolia
After Genghis Khan’s legendary Eurasian empire disintegrated in the 14th century, Mongolians gradually retreated to their original homeland, which closely coincides with the current national territory. They came under the rule of the neighboring Chinese in the 17th century. However, in 1920, the Russian Civil War spilled over the national border into Mongolia and subsequently drove out the Chinese forces that then occupied Ulanbaatar. This event catalyzed Mongolia’s close alignment with the Soviet Union over the next 70 or so years, and with the USSR’s help, Mongolia gained independence in 1921 and established the Mongolian People’s Republic (Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], 2011).
Mongolia, as a communist nation, accepted public sector responsibility for the health of the nation’s population at the time of its independence. Public health in Mongolia therefore saw its birth in the early 1920s, and after the launching of the first civil hospital in 1925, various specialized hospitals soon emerged. Provincial and rural facilities followed between 1925 and 1930. In the next ten years, Soviet medical care research and development teams were sent to Mongolia to provide medical services and guide the country in establishing a public health network. Such expeditions introduced Western medical knowledge extensively to the impoverished country (Korea Foundation for International Healthcare [KOFIH], 2011). Projects in the field of health care flourished, and by 1960, almost 25% of sum districts had medical facilities. In 1978, a national health law, designed to further improve the nationwide system of standardized services established between 1940 and 1960, was passed (Neupert, 1995). Under Soviet administrative support, this law provided the stepping stone for the current referral health care system: the patient is referred from rural posts to sum, inter-sum, provincial and finally national hospitals (Neupert, 1995).
The advancement of Western medicine in Mongolia ran parallel with the decline of the practice of traditional Mongolian medicine. As the country became more Westernized, traditional medicine was inevitably rejected as part of the pre-modern past. Until 1921, traditional Buddhist-Tibetan medicine had been the sole basis for health care. The indigenous traditional medicine had been incorporated under the overarching framework of Tibetan Buddhism and was mainly practiced by Buddhist monks. Thus, it met its end when Stalinist purges of Mongolian religions took place in the 1930s (Baabar, 1999).
The socialist regime was entirely responsible for the country’s health budget and directly provided public health service, leading to a centralized, bureaucratic public health sector (KOFIH, 2011). More importantly, the Soviet Union made an indispensable financial contribution to Mongolia’s health care (Soviet assistance at its height was one-third of Mongolia’s GDP). The USSR’s decline in 1990 resulted in an abrupt cessation of financial assistance, and Mongolia was thrown into a deep and long economic recession over the next decade, under which the health sector suffered. After the break from the Soviet Union, Mongolia turned abruptly toward a free-market economy and extensive privatization. The country continues to struggle as a result of this sudden change from a formerly state-run economy (CIA, 2011).
The Current Situation
There are two issues at hand with the current Mongolian health care system: a lack of funding and marginal preventive medicine. While the USSR provided aid, Mongolia never reached a level of socioeconomic development high enough to sustain a health care system modeled after those of modern Western countries (Neupert, 1995). Although not hopelessly destitute, Mongolia remains far from standing on its own feet. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Mongolia is one of the countries receiving official development assistance (OECD, 2011). With a GDP per capita of $3,522 (2009), Mongolia is classified as a Lower Middle Income Country/Territory. Its total expenditure on health was 4.7% of GDP as of 2009, compared to the United States’ 16.2% (World Health Organization, 2009). As the United States’ GDP per capita equaled $45,989 (2009), roughly 13 times that of Mongolia, it is quite easy to see that the health care available to Mongolians is incomparable to what we take for granted.
To make matters worse, the abrupt induction into capitalism in 1990 meant that the health sector became marketbased as well. Health care service previously available to Mongolian citizens—all expenses paid by the government—has become, in large part, “off limits” to the poor. The few resources Mongolian hospitals do manage to procure, such as drugs, equipment, ambulances, instruments and personnel, are accessible only to those with the means to pay for them, and, oftentimes, “unofficially” to the hospital faculty (KOFIH, 2011). The country’s health system continues to struggle with structural transformations necessitated by the policies and realities of a capitalist economy (O’Rourke & Hindle, 2001).
Another issue is that the current health delivery system emphasizes clinical treatment but significantly neglects preventive medicine. As mentioned above, the Mongolian system is fundamentally rooted in the Soviet model, and while Soviet influence has had a largely positive impact in centralizing and modernizing the system, its major shortcoming—the neglect of preventive medicine—has also carried over. In fact, the concept of preventive medicine has not firmly settled into public awareness (KOFIH, 2011). The dominant preventive medical approach adopted in modern Mongolia has been mandatory examinations by mobile medical teams. This medical “policing” system, which imposes health care on the population, has hindered public awareness of the fact that health care is a responsibility that applies at the individual and community level. As a consequence, primary health care initiatives including “hygiene and nutrition education [and] improvement of local sanitation and environments” have historically been underdeveloped (McMurray & Smith, 2001). Today, although some basic interventions such as vaccinations are carried out, campaigns or programs to expand the population’s overall knowledge in primary care are severely deficient and inadequate.
Furthermore, with the loss of traditional medicine in the 1930s, Mongolia eradicated two thousand years’ worth of accumulated self-care knowledge. Traditional Mongolian medicine centers on a biopsychosocial balance, which fosters self-care and helps keep ailments at bay through changes in behavior and lifestyle in conjunction with herbal infusions and other treatments. Although Western society has questioned the scientific basis of some aspects of indigenous medicine (e.g. religious prayers and rituals), preventive traditional medicine is authentic to the extent that practitioners instill appropriate long-term behavior patterns in response to compromising environmental factors. For instance, people with obsessive personalities who tend to be restless and thin are “generally taught to avoid running, exposure and distracting stimuli, especially in cold, clear and dry seasons or climates, because these make them prone to disorders…like arthritis or insomnia” (Loizzo et al., 2009). It is thus probable that a public health care model structurally lacking in preventive medicine coupled with the loss of traditional self-care knowledge may have increased Mongolians’ susceptibility to illnesses (Neupert, 1995).
My observations will perhaps elucidate the stark reality of health care in Mongolia., although they are only a snapshot of the myriad challenges that the country currently faces. During our five days in Batnorov, an average of 430 locals per day came to be examined and treated. Many traveled from distant villages, and fights broke out among villagers pushing each other to obtain patient number tags. For many of them, the annual or biannual trips the Korean Open Doctors Society made were their only exposure to proper modern medicine.
Villagers came from far and wide to have their immediate injuries and aches cured, but an observation of their diet, lifestyle and housing showed that any treatment would provide only temporary relief; most villagers had neither the concept of nor the access to basic natural resources needed for healthy nutrition and hygiene. The dry climate and terrain contribute to the lack of vegetation in the villages; thus, vegetables and fruits are extremely limited in the daily diet. Instead, a typical diet consists of red meat, animal fat and dairy products. As for personal hygiene, locals live in communal outhouses (often just one for many families) and toilets are fashioned simply from wooden planks placed side-by-side with a gap in the middle over a deep hole. The arid climate brings little rain, and the lack of plumbing means that most locals have no running water. Washing frequently, or even regularly, is not an affordable option.
Mongolia faces a difficult challenge in improving its medical system. Overall, the country is economically underdeveloped, which limits resources and the ability to provide quality medical services and coverage to the poor. The low socioeconomic status also makes it difficult for the country to solidify its health care infrastructure. These financial problems are long-term issues that Mongolian officials must address. Although these problems are extremely pervasive, there are short-term goals that can be met.
The second issue may have a more achievable shortterm solution: the limited-to-nonexistent knowledge of the Mongolian population regarding preventive and promotional health. This problem can be alleviated by simple efforts to increase public awareness. While attempting to reform the larger health care system, a revival of traditional medicine should also be incorporated as part of a broader effort to entrench preventive care into the Mongolian health care system. Such projects are in progress. For example, in 2004, the Nippon Method was implemented in Mongolia, the purpose of which was to enhance primary health care. The project supplied participating families with a family pharmacy kit of traditional medicines and gave an accompanying health education. The Mongolian people and physicians who had forgotten the use of traditional medicines were trained via broadcast on national television, which also proved to be an effective general health promotion strategy. The results showed that 64% of the participants noticed a general improvement in their health, and an increased understanding and use of traditional medicine enhanced the confidence of Mongolian physicians (WHO, 2007).
Traditional medicine, which actually only began to be revitalized in the 1990s after the break from the Soviet Union, represents not only a wealth of self-care knowledge but also a wealth of Mongolian culture. Its foundation in Tibetan Buddhism has ensured a firm place in the cultural realm, and its incorporation into public health care would benefit the country both in terms of optimal use of available resources and in preserving its national identity. In moving forward, global health experts should focus on improving Mongolians’ quality of life by disseminating modern Western medical practices. However,in doing so, they should pay careful attention to respecting and reemphasizing the traditional culture.
The image of the Batnorov sum hospital serves as a symbol for the critical issues at hand. Initially built during the time of Soviet aid, its aim was to provide continuing Western medical care to the locals. However, a severe lack of funding following Soviet decline left its medical faculty with bare minimum supplies and resources. The excessively high number of patients with festering sores, illnesses and cavities that could have been moderated by basic self-care suggests a lack of preventive medicine—or at the very least, a lack of public health awareness.
Watching the most beautiful sunrise over endless plains of gold from the hospital and turning around only to come face-to-face with twiglike, thinly clothed children smiling at me with blackened teeth was tragically ironic to the point of physical agony. I hope and pray that in the near future, those same children will be relieved of all their pain and be granted the physical and psychological health that would allow them to appreciate simple things like the sun rising over their village.
MCC BOARD MEMBERS VISIT MONGOLIA COMPACT IMPLEMENTATION SITES
Ulaanbaatar, April 29 (MCA-Mongolia) - Members of the MCC Board of Directors, Lorne W. Craner and Morton H. Halperin, from Washington DC visited MCA-Mongolia project implementation sites on April 26, 2013, while their stay in UB to attend annual Community of Democracies Ministerial being held between April 27 and April 29, 2013.
With MCC funding MCA-Mongolia implements six projects to achieve the objectives of the Compact agreement which was signed between the Mongolian and US governments on October 2007.
The Board member started their visit from Vocational Education and Training Project (TVET) of MCA-Mongolia by touring Art and Production Polytechnic College named after Rajiv Ghandi. As part of TVET project investments, MCC has funded equipment and materials including the following:
- Core technology labs in hydraulics, auto mechanics, mechatronics, and electronics. Core technology labs were provided to 5 schools in total.
- Multimedia labs including audio recording studio, video recording studio, video conference room, and multimedia computer lab. Multimedia labs were provided to 10 schools including the Art and Production Polytechnic College being visited.
- Sewing practical training lab including different types of sewing training equipment. Two schools received this kind of equipment.
- Library equipment, software, furniture and e-learning rooms. Library equipment and software were provided to 3 schools in total.
- Computer lab for 20 students with state-of-the-art computers and furniture. In total 2 schools received computer labs.
- Training materials, reference books, learner guides in line with 28 Competency based training curricula developed by the TVET project.
In addition to the above investments, around 85 teachers, management and administrative staff of the Art and Production Polytechnic College have participated in various capacity building activities organized by the TVET project.
Energy and Environment Project (EEP) of MCA-Mongolia helped nearly 100,000 families in Ulaanbaatar by subsidizing various energy-efficient products. Members of the Board visited a beneficiary family in Chingeltei district and had an opportunity to experience the Mongolian traditional housing called “Ger.” The family owns energy efficient stove subsidized by EEP.
The project implemented its subsidy delivery activity of energy efficient products in 2011-2012 by covering 72 sub-districts of 6 districts. As of November 2012, around 98’000 energy efficient stoves, 21’000 ger insulations, 5’000 vestibules, 100 energy efficient homes were sold under the subsidy delivery activity of the project.
Property Rights Project (PRP) has been implementing khashaa plot privatization and registration activity in three districts of Ulaanbaatar city in order to help khashaa plot (ger area) residents to privatize their land plot and get fully marketable land titles until late July, 2013.
As closing remark of the campaign, PRP organized an open day on land relations during which relative government bodies of land relations and privatization of capital city gave and clarified in-depth information to citizens. During the event, representatives of beneficiaries from each district where PRP was carried out (Songinokhairkhan, Bayanzurkh, Chingeltei districts) received their land ownership certificates and handed by Her Excellency Ambassador Piper Campbell, members of MCC Board, His Honorable Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city, and other respected officials.
The Road Project of MCA-Mongolia is constructing Choir-Sainshand 176.4 km road of AH-3 of Altanbulag-Zamiin-Uud corridor. By the end of summer, the road construction will be successfully completed and Mongolia will have its first fully paved road corridor connecting north and south border ports. Accordingly, the Road Project showcased its road construction progress and highlighted the importance of the Choir-Sainshand 176.4 km road to overall Mongolian economy during the working lunch with Her Excellency Ambassador Piper Campbell and MCC Board.
In afternoon, the group toured Health Project’s implementation site - a family clinic in Sukhbaatar district. The Health Project Director made a presentation highlighting the project’s activites, introduced the practitioners in the clinic, and showcased the donated equipments. The Project’s focuses on extending the productive years and productivity of the labor force by reducing the incidence and severity of non-communicable diseases and injuries such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and preventable accidents and trauma, and reducing and refocusing total health expenditure.
The last scheduled event took place in the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture, where herder groups’ (HG) representatives and senior officials from the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture had a brief meeting with Her Excellency Ambassador Piper Campbell and MCC Board members. The Peri-Urban Rangeland Project is conducting rangeland management training for farmers alongside the provision of fencing/winter shelter materials provided on the base of 15-year loan. Most importantly, the herder groups are receiving leases to the plots of land that they use to herd their animals, which will allow them a venue to take loans out and improve upon their herding business.
The Mongolia Compact’s close-out date is September 17th, 2013. Currently, the implementation is progressing according to the plan and MCA-Mongolia officials are confident that they will meet the deadline on time with achieved objectives of the Compact.
A.Urangoo – Bringing Mongolia’s Talent Back Home
By Allyson Seaborn
May 5 (UB Post) A.Urangoo’s ideas about bringing the pool of Mongolian talent back to her native country has prompted much enthusiasm and eyebrow-raising lately. She’s the talk of UB because of her attempt at nothing less than a gargantuan-sized feat.
I meet this vivacious twenty-six year old for lunch in order to learn more about what she’s up to and find out why she’s making heads turn wherever she goes. Urangoo is on a mission to bring Mongolia’s talent “back home.”
After graduating from the Mongolian Turkish High school in 2003, Urangoo decided to study overseas and spent a total of nine years abroad – mostly in the US where she attended the University of Colorado majoring in International Studies. As a result of her keenness to get more involved in campus life, she was asked to join the team at the Office of Grants and Contracts which regulates about 7000 USA government related projects per year.
It was here that she cut her teeth working on a major health project University of Colorado Health Sciences Centre and first learned about the importance of professional networking. Working as the Assistant to the Director of the office, she modestly tells me she “learned quite a lot.”
In January 2012 Urangoo’s father passed away, however, and this event triggered her move back to Ulaanbaatar. “That’s the reason I moved back to Mongolia – to be with my mom and my brother,” she says. “It was a very big shock for me.”
She continues ”When I came back to Mongolia everything was new. I never planned on living back here. I was so attached to America, but when I came back here I saw so many opportunities. Mongolia’s corporate environment is rapidly developing and there are so many growing opportunities. The Mongolian economy has entered into an explosive period of growth and we see that a time for progress in development and innovation has finally arrived. At the same time, competent people with international experience are now in constant demand in Mongolia. I was involved with a lot of Mongolian Community NGOs in America, so when I moved back here I tried to find out a way I could help Mongolians to see these opportunities, but at the same time I myself also wanted to have a great network.
Urangoo’s newfound passion back in UB seems to be the silver lining surrounding the dark cloud around her father’s death. As the timeless Lennon adage goes, life is really what happens while you’re busy making other plans.
“Lots of our Mongolian students who graduate from overseas universities end up in mining which pays a relatively good salary compared to other sectors. That’s when I decided to join Mongolia Talent Network (MTN). So I was there almost from MTNs inception and as an ambassador for MTN I have a great opportunity to have access to have a big network of people in Mongolia.”
Urangoo initially worked at MTN for three months on a video project to inform Mongolians overseas about the job opportunities back in Mongolia. “Many people contacted me after this project saying ‘do you have a job for me’ and ‘I want to come back to Mongolia, but I don’t know about the opportunities back home.’ So I realized I could start lecturing all the time and really make something out of it.”
She also adds that “The only I way I can reach Mongolians living abroad is to meet with them and share my experiences with them and provide them with information about the job market back in Mongolia. Studies shows that if the Mongolian economy keeps a GDP growth of 17.5% over the next 5 years, we’ll need 60,000 foreign workers on top of what already exists. We need to bring Mongolians back and fill the shortage of high skilled employees.
Urangoo subsequently visited the US on vacation and organized meetings with the Mongolian student community to share information with them about job opportunities back home. “The Mongolian community that lives overseas has such huge potential as a labour force – they are bilingual, often trilingual, and can work to world class standards. They know about professionalism and the corporate culture. These people bring huge potential not only for themselves, but also for Mongolia.”
She has also presented a series of lectures in Korea and Japan. In fact, Urangoo is planning to go to Europe in the first week of May where she has received invitations to speak in four countries – the UK, Holland, Sweden and Germany.
“The only way to bring this pool of talent back to Mongolia is to entice them. If I can show Mongolians overseas that they can be successful back home by showing examples, they will believe in this important cause. Many students return to Mongolia without job experience in their field of the degree they are qualified in. I advise them to gain experience while they are studying. An internship is a very valuable option. If you don’t have any experience, your salary will be same whether you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Founding partner of MTN, Adrienne Youngman tells me more about MTN. “Our mission is to help people to reach their potential by providing information, options, and opportunities. We are a strong commercial business but we also have a very positive social impact. The job market here has historically been very inefficient and opaque. We wanted to change that. We’re delighted to be able to support Urangoo in providing information and options to Mongolian overseas so that they have the opportunity to bring their skills and experience back to Mongolia.”
Urangoo explains “At MTN I consult daily with young people looking for Mongolian opportunities. A lot of them are new graduates. When I meet them and talk to them I get a sense that Mongolia’s future and their futures are very bright. We don’t just need industrialisation and mining oriented projects. We simply need very good internationally prepared young people back here. Our system here needs changing. We need to change our work environment as well. If Mongolians living overseas decide to come back here, they’ll have the opportunity to really improve the domestic market and make it a richer country. People will follow them. They’ll also change the labour force and the current mentality.”
She then asks if I realise 10% of Mongolia’s total population work overseas and says “We need to correct this imbalance as it can be very difficult to get a job back here. I’m a prime example at twenty-six years old. I’ve been there. I’ve lived worked overseas and I’m back here now as an example. This makes it believable as Mongolians overseas can relate to me.”
Something most people don’t know about Urangoo is that she has a beautiful voice. “My first dream was to be a singer,” she beams. “I also love designing jewelry. When I was six years old I made my own earrings, bracelets and necklaces.”
She adores big chunky, Hollywood type bling and shows me some remarkable photos of her designs. Her artistic talent is pretty impressive. In fact, she’s already entered into a contract with Korean manufacturers to bring this hobby to life. “You could be in a T shirt, but when you have one of necklaces on you could like you were going to a cocktail party,” she proudly smiles.
Cosmopolitan Magazine has already showcased some of her unique designs in a recent publication. “My jewelry line does not replace my career though. My foremost passion is bringing back our talent and preparing future employees. This is not a dream. I will do it.”
Urangoo also works at the Office of the President of Mongolia as an advisor to a project which also focuses on bringing Mongolians back to the country – a role that is very much in line with her work as an ambassador for MTN.” Urangoo is also a board member of the National Investment Bank of Mongolia and a member of JCI Mongolia, the NGO membership-based non-profit organization of 200,000 young people ages 18 to 40 in 5,000 communities around the world. JCI’s aim is to find better solutions to build better communities through active citizenship.
I ask Adrienne Youngman to tell me more about Urangoo. “She is an extremely poised, well-spoken, and engaging young woman with a fantastic network amongst Mongolians overseas as well as repats in Mongolia. She works with Mongolia Talent Network as an ambassador to these communities, to help them to understand the Mongolian job market and to build bright careers here.”
We’ll no doubt be hearing more about this amazingly talented Urangoo in the coming years. She’s definitely one to watch and pay close attention to.
Mongolia sank 2 places in World Press Freedom Index
April 30 (news.mn) Reporters Without Borders has published its World Press Freedom Index 2013. In the index Mongolia sank two places down (98th place,+2) from the previous year. This means that less press freedom in Mongolia is being given compared to last year.
Mongolia has been part of the World Press Freedom Index since it joined in 2002. Mongolia was ranked at 53rd amongst all countries; a satisfactory situation.
Unfortunately Mongolia’s ranking fell after the July 1st incident following the 2008 parliamentary election. Since then the ranking has steadily sunk until now.
The World Press Freedom Index has great impacts on the expected freedom index in the countries.
Paris based non-profit organization, Reporters Without Borders, was established in 1985. It defends the freedom to be informed and to inform others throughout the world.
Reporters Without Borders annually issues the World Press Freedom Index, including lists and records based on its own method.
According to this year`s report 17 journalists were killed and 179 journalists arrested due to their news and reports.
Three European countries that headed the index last year again hold the top three positions this year. For the third year running, Finland has distinguished itself as the country that most respects media freedom. This year is followed by the Netherlands and Norway, last year, Estonia came in joint with the Netherlands.
Although many criteria are considered ranging from legislation to violence against journalists, democratic countries occupy the top of the index while dictatorial countries occupy the last three positions. Again it is the same three as last year – Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, who hold the bottom three positions.
Globe International celebrates World Press Freedom Day in Mongolia
May 3 (Globe International) Globe International Centre, a Mongolian free expression NGO, and the Mongolian Journalists Association with support from Open Society Forum (OSF), Mongolia, marked World Press Freedom Day 2013 on May 1, 2013 at the OSF Conference Hall. More than 75 politicians, officials, international organisations, NGOs, journalists and media practitioners gathered at the event.
G. Jargalsaikhan, Secretary General of the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, stressed in his speech that Mongolia is in 98th place in the free press index of Reporters Without Borders. He introduced UNESCO's 2013 WPFD concept note “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” which focused on three sub-themes: Ensuring the Safety of Journalists and Media Workers, Combating Impunity of Crimes against Press Freedom, and Online Safety.
Members of Parliament M. Batchimeg, Uyanga, and D. Sarangerel, as well as E. Bat-Uul, Ulaanbaatar City Mayor, who initiated the Media Freedom Law in 1998, attended the event. Ms. M. Batchimeg noted, “Media freedom is the freedom of journalists having responsibility to report truly and to exercise their professional duty” and stressed that Mongolian people's right to know is in the hands of high officials and owners.
Mrs. Naranjargal Khashkhuu, President of Globe International, made a presentation on the present media freedom situation and she highlighted that, “We are marking this year's WPFD with a number of threats against media freedom.”
Thirty-seven websites were closed and the licenses of 44 cable television stations terminated after an inspection by the Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC). The government decided to establish a Unified System of Comments on Websites on January 5, 2013 at its Cabinet Meeting. This decision obliges website owners “to introduce software to stop comments containing slander or threats, so the main websites operate under the Unified System of prohibited words introduced by the CRC; the government considers that it will offer to take legal and controlling measures identifying the relevant person by checking the system in the case, if another person affected by the information launches complaints about comments containing information with character of such crimes as libel, insult, obscenity and threats. The State Registration Authority will register the users' information who posted comments based on the civil data and database of mobile phone users. In doing so, they will follow the related rules and procedures of the state and individual privacy.”
Globe registered in total 45 cases of free expression violations, including assaults, intimidation, threatening, detention and criminal defamation. The most sensational criminal defamation case ended with an 8.5 million MNT (approx. US$6,200) fine imposed against female journalist D. Bolormaa from the daily newspaper Zuunii Medee who wrote an article about human trafficking. The judicial process was carried out very quickly after the plaintiff Mr. B. Narankhuu, a rich businessman who became an MP, made the complaint.
The participants discussed the crucial issues of media freedom, journalism ethics, editorial independence, parajournalism, confidential sources, legal environment, issues of online expression and Internet regulation.
The participants endorsed the Call to the Parliament and Government of Mongolia to dissolve the decision, to ensure the independence of the CRC, enact legislation for the protection of confidential sources and to recognise the community media at policy, legal and regulatory levels.
The Call, signed by major media NGOs, applauds the new version of the Criminal Law, which will be publicly discussed next week; repeals criminal defamation; and expresses hope that Parliament will pass it without any changes.
The Call has been handed over to Mr. Ch.Saikhanbileg, Head of the Government Office, on May 3. To read the call please follow this link.
The 2013 Media Freedom Award “For the Truth!” was handed to cameraman A. Amarsanaa and G. Batkhishig, a reporter at private SBN TV, who were seriously injured and had their camera broken while they were reporting on the illegal operation of night clubs in Ulaanbaatar.
GLOBAL PRESS FREEDOM 2013: MONGOLIA STANDS AT 77TH PLACE WITH “PARTLY FREE” MEDIA
May 3 (InfoMongolia) --
As of Mongolia, with 37 scores stands at the 77th place out of 197 countries and territories, is having “Partly Free” media.
In 2012 Index, Mongolia stood at the 80th place and at the 82nd in 2011 survey.
National library launches digital library
May 2 (news.mn) Mongolia is a nation that crafts its precious books of gold and silver, wrap sutras in the most expensive silk and put them in the most honorable places in the ger. But they dress up in sheepskin themselves and cradle their children in lambskin. Mongolia is the nation that respects precious books and sutras as god, carrying them like their baby when moving, inheriting them from their descendants, being told to keep them and being reminded that wisdom is richness.
Now the Mongolian National Library has launched a digital library of ancient precious books and sutras in order to prevent these unique heritages from being worn out and allowing their restoration.
President Ts.Elbegorj initiated the project and the President`s Office supported the digital library. Over 800 million MNT was spent on the project. The opening ceremony of the digital library was held in the newsroom named after the President of Mongolia in the Mongolian National Library on May 1st.
At the opening ceremony, the Head of the President`s Office P.Tsagaan, Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ts,Oyungerel and the Director of the Mongolian National Library, Kh,Chilaajav as well as scientists, fellows, monks and representatives of social groups gathered to see the unveiling.
Precious books and heritages of unique Mongolian literacy culture are stored in the Mongolian National Library. The Mongolian National Library is valued as a cradle of literacy cultural in Mongolia and also in the Central Asia.
But these unique original books which can easily be worn out by time now seem to be feeling the effects. So the National Library launched software to let fellows and readers see these ancient books on display without damaging them. Fellows and readers no longer have to wait for someone to finish reading the only original print.
With the digital copies there is no risk to the books and sutras by being worn out by hands and readers can read it together at once and even have copies of these precious books.
Long trip from home pays off for Rocky student from Mongolia
May 3 (Billings Gazette) Anudari Batjargal came to Rocky Mountain College in 2009 as a 16-year-old freshman from Mongolia.
When she graduates Saturday, she will leave with a double major in aviation administration and managerial accounting and a minor in math.
If that wasn’t enough to pack into four years, Batjargal was an Associated Students of Rocky Mountain College senator representing minority students and worked for the Institute for Peace Studies on campus.
She also placed in or won the college-level Edith Gronhovd Peace Essay Awards for the past four years.
Last summer, she returned to Mongolia for an internship with Eznis Airways, a Mongolian airline. She found that what she had learned about public relations, writing, communications and budgeting served her well at the airline.
Those activities didn’t get in the way of her studies.
With a grade-point average of 3.98, Batjargal, 20, will graduate summa cum laude, the highest honors a graduate can have.
At graduation she will be awarded one of two President’s Cups for her high GPA and campus activities.
Coming so far at such a young age wasn’t difficult because Rocky was so welcoming, Batjargal said. She also feels a couple of years older than her chronological age, having started school in Mongolia two years earlier than her contemporaries.
Getting a college degree and one particularly in aviation is important to help her country move forward.
With only 3 million people in the country, “every education, every person counts,” she said. “Aviation connects us to the world.”
Nearing the end of her time at Rocky, she is looking forward to the next step in her life.
She has been applying for jobs with airports in both the United States and Mongolia.
Eventually, she would like to work at the new airport in the works in her hometown of Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s capital city.
Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
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