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WOLF: 2D SEISMIC ACQUISITION UPDATE ON SB BLOCK
August 19 -- Mongolian oil explorer Wolf Petroleum Limited (ASX: WOF) is pleased to announce that the 2D seismic acquisition programme is progressing successfully on the Sukhbaatar (SB) Block.
Ø 185 km of the 450 km 2D seismic acquisition programme has now been completed.
Ø 88 personnel are currently working on-site , including the Company's geologists and the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia's appointed supervisor.
Ø The 2D seismic acquisition programme has now commenced in the region spanning from the Talbulag* area to the Toson Tolgoi (Oily Hill)** area of the Sukhbaatar province.
Ø About 2,500 shot hole samples were collected for geochemical analysis at Vistageoscience Lab in the USA. Indications of oil have been identified on the surface and in shot holes.
Ø Samples have been taken and the results of geochemical analysis will be announced once available.
Ø Seismic data processing companies have been selected and contracts have been signed. Seismic data will be processed by two different companies: WesternGeco and Sterling Seismic Services. Seismic data will be sent from the site for processing on a weekly basis.
Ø The 2D seismic acquisition programme is expected to be completed in late September.
Wolf Petroleum: Mining setback weighs on Mongolia oil project hopes
* Investor concerns after latest setbacks to Rio Tinto mining project
* Proven reserves of 2.4 billion barrels yet to be exploited
* Foreign investment down 32 percent from start of the year
By Jack Stubbs
LONDON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Mongolia's oil reserves are on a scale with Britain's and Argentina's, but finding investors brave enough to exploit them is proving tough, and cracks appearing in the country's mining industry could make it tougher.
The sparsely populated and landlocked country bordered by Russia and China has proven reserves of 2.4 billion barrels, but shortcomings in infrastructure mean the vast wealth has yet to be exploited.
Australian-owned Wolf Petroleum (WOF.AX) is hoping to showcase Mongolia's potential to foreign investors, but it is up against concerns over the ongoing Oyu Tolgoi copper mine saga, where Rio Tinto's expansion plans have stalled in recent weeks.
Mongolia has raised concerns about the costs of the Oyu Tolgoi expansion and the potential that rising expenditure will delay when it starts receiving its share of profits.
But Wolf's management is upbeat.
"Mongolia is one of the last onshore frontiers where multibillion barrels of oil can still be discovered and produced," said chief executive Bataa Tumur-Ochir.
"Lately the government of Mongolia and the people are starting to really feel and understand the importance of foreign investment."
But investors are not so sure.
"As it stands, Mongolia simply does not have the infrastructure to support any kind of significant oil discovery," said Svetoslav Varadzhakov, Vice President at London-based Collabrium Capital.
"Big oil companies looking to buy up any discoveries are going to look at what's happened (to Rio Tinto's project) and draw their own conclusions."
Foreign investment in the Mongolian mining, exploration and petroleum industry fell by 32 percent in the first six months of 2013, said the Ministry of Economic Development on Thursday, leaving oil companies frustrated by the silhouette of major producing oil fields just over the Chinese border.
A country where cattle outnumber people fifteen to one, Mongolia has only 3,000 kilometres of paved road and just one oil refinery (Mogi: not a refinery), owned and operated by PetroChina.
Hoping to build on the success of PetroChina and fellow Chinese group Sinopec, which are exporting about 4.5 million barrels a year to China by road, Wolf Petroleum is Mongolia's largest exploration company with 74,400 square kilometres of exploration licences. China, now the world's second biggest oil consumer, represents a ready market.
Analysts believe the experiences of global miner Rio Tinto , which said on Wednesday it would axe up to 1,700 jobs on its Mongolian operation, will have a knock-on effect.
"But big risks can also mean big rewards," said Varadzhakov. "I think now could be the right time to go to Mongolia. Go now, while everyone else is scared."
Modun Resources raises funds to advance Nuurst thermal coal project in Mongolia
August 19 (Proactive Investors) Modun Resources (ASX:MOU) has raised funds for the ongoing Feasibility Study on the Nuurst thermal coal project in Mongolia, as discussions with the Government for an off-take agreement for Nuurst coal briquettes continues to progress.
Modun attracted sophisticated investors in the placement at the market price of $0.007 to raise $375,000.
Recently the company achieved another significant milestone on the road to production at Nuurst, following the approval of its application for a mining licence.
The project is strategically located and is just 6 kilometres from existing railway infrastructure, with Modun the only international company recently selected as a preferred supplier of coal to the Mongolian Government under their "Clean Air Initiative."
The initiative is to reduce air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, which has been ranked as the second most polluted city in the world according to the World Health Organisation, following Ahwaz in Iran.
Modun is the only preferred supplier who owns their coal reserve, which importantly guarantees coal supply for making the briquettes and greater control, while also placing the company in a position to have compelling economics by reducing the coal acquisition costs over its competitors.
The Nuurst Coal Project has a 478 million Resource of sub-bituminous coal.
Strategic review undertaken by Origo Partners, postponing activities in Myanmar & Mongolia
August 14 (StockMarketWire.com) - Origo Partners has undertaken a strategic review in light of the continuing weakening of growth in Mongolia and China as well as the company's financial position.
This has concluded that the underlying performance of the portfolio is generally satisfactory and valuation of the company's assets is sound. However, in order to maximise value to shareholders a number of decisions have been reached to adjust the company's strategy given the impact of continued volatility in its core markets.
Chris Rynning, Origo's CEO, said: "We believe that the revised strategy announced today will enable Origo to maximise value for shareholders whilst positioning the company to weather this period of uncertainty.
"Whilst the current market is challenging, particularly for exits, we remain confident in the quality of our investments and the medium term potential of our portfolio."
The unaudited net asset value of the Group at the end of June was $157.4m, compared to $160.8m for the period ending March 31 2013.
Origo management will take the following measures:
a. Significantly reduce operating costs, including through: a reduction of property costs; an approximately fifty percent cut in staff headcount; and a general decrease in travel and operating expenses;
b. Commit to making no new investments until further notice. The Company will concentrate on managing positions in existing portfolio companies and will consider follow on financings only where these will protect or enhance value;
c. Focus on creating realizations at the right time and right value for shareholders; and
d. Postpone activities in Myanmar and Mongolia at this time.
MSE: First Half 2013 Financial Reports of Companies
Montsame MSE News, August 16: Top 20 -0.57%, Turnover ₮8.7 Million
Ulaanbaatar, August 16 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Friday, a total of three thousand and 781 shares of 11 JSCs were traded costing MNT eight million 685 thousand and 187.00.
Rates of shares of two company increased, of five decreased and share price of four were stable.
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 334 billion 863 million 538 thousand and 897. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 13,602.37, decreasing by 78.27 per cent (Mogi: oh Montsame, please stop saying percent, and just use the actual percentage) against the previous day.
MSE Weekly Review: Turnover ₮46 Million
Ulaanbaatar, August 18 /MONTSAME/ Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange on August 12-16, 2013.
In overall, 39 thousand and 993 shares were sold of 33 joint-stock companies totaling MNT 46 million 903 thousand and 866.00.
"Genco tour bureau" /20 thousand and 609 units/, "Moninjbar" /five thousand and 11 units/ and "State Department Store" /four thousand and 90 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"APU" (MNT nine million 770 thousand and 449.00), "Gobi " (MNT five million and 474 thousand and 185.00) and "Tavan tolgoi" (MNT five million 348 thousand and 870.00).
FMG Mongolia Fund lost 4.5% in July
August 16 (FMG) The MSE was flat in July but the Mongolian currency, the Tugrik, lost 3.7%. Most of our holdings in the consumer sector managed to stay in positive territory, while resource stocks were a drag on performance. In anticipation of the market showing signs of a bottom, we are keeping some cash on the sidelines which we will allocate opportunistically.
The giant Oyu Tolgoi mine finally began exporting copper concentrate last month after several delays, however the stock failed to stage a rally as a lack of clarity regarding continued development of the last stages of the mine exists. The overall life of the mine is expected to be at least 50 years and it is estimated it will eventually make up a third of Mongolia's economy by 2020. At full production the mine will produce an estimated 450,000 tons of copper which would equal approximately 3% of current world production. We see tremendous potential in Mongolia and believe we will soon start reaping the benefits of the many quality assets found there.
Mongolia Seeks to Help Foreign Investors Amid Rio Funding Battle
By Michael Kohn
Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia plans to put investors from overseas on equal terms with local companies and improve the tax environment by passing a law next month after a dispute with Rio Tinto Group over funding the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine.
The parliament will hold an emergency session Sept. 2 to 6 to pass the legislation, according to a statement today on its website. The investment law won't discriminate between "large or small, foreign or domestic companies," according to the statement, which didn't provide any details of tax changes.
The parliament session was called after Rio said it would cut 1,700 jobs at Oyu Tolgoi and following months of talks over a disputed $5.1 billion financing package for its second stage.
Foreign direct investment into the country has also slumped 43 percent in the first half, according to Bank of Mongolia data.
The announcement was a "significant message from Mongolian authorities that the country wants back investment, both foreign and domestic," Dale Choi, the founder of Independent Mongolian Metals & Mining Research, said in a note to clients.
The legislation, superceding the Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law adopted in May 2012, may help stem a weakening in the economy. Expansion slowed to an annual 11.3 percent in the first half, from 12.4 percent in 2012 and 17.5 percent in 2011.
"It's a positive development but it will take a lot of time for investor confidence to return to the Mongolian market," said Oscar Mendoza, managing partner at Mongolia Asset Management, an investment advisory group based in Ulaanbaatar.
Legislation needs to work with a proposed mining law that may be adopted by parliament in the session starting October, he said.
"Most of the investment is in mining," Mendoza said. "If the minerals law does not go on par with the investment law then no, you are not going to see lot of investment coming in."
(article from terminal)
Parliament to replace two foreign investment laws to boost FDI
August 16 (Business-Mongolia.com) In the coming month, the SGK or Mongolian parliament will have a special session due to the current foreign investment condition. The session will be held from 2nd to 6th of September.
The controversial Strategic Investment Law (Strategic Enterprises Foreign Investment Law) will be repealed along with the old Foreign Investment Law. Also, the parliament will discuss the Law on Investment to stabilize tax to protect and boost the investment coming from both abroad and domestic.
Moreover, there will be a discussion on necessary measures to be taken to tackle the economic difficulties the country is facing.
The Mongolian National Broadcaster confirmed that 63 of OT LCC employees has been given notification of redundancy, and over 300 of underground development contractor RedPath staff will no longer be employed.
Mongolian parliament recalled as falling foreign investment threatens economy
* Parliament to hold extraordinary session Sept. 2-6
* Follows delay of expansion of Rio Tinto mine, job cuts
* Foreign investment down 43 percent in the first half
ULAN BATOR, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Mongolia's parliament announced on Friday it would hold an emergency session next month, as the country looks to ward off an economic crisis sparked by uncertainty over its biggest mining project and falling foreign investment.
A government official had said on Thursday that the National Security Council, headed by the country's president, was debating recalling parliament, currently in summer recess.
According to its website, parliament will now meet for a week-long session from Sept. 2 and is set to discuss, among other things, legislation governing foreign investment.
The extraordinary session could also accelerate the approval of financing for a $5 billion expansion to global miner Rio Tinto's giant Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine.
Rio earlier this week announced mass lay-offs at Oyu Tolgoi, where it has put an underground expansion on ice due to disputes with the government.
The job cuts have been read by some in Mongolia as an attempt to pressure the government into easing its demands on the miner over project financing, and the extra session of parliament could spur progress.
Dale Choi, an analyst at Mongolian Metals & Mining Research, said in a note on Friday that the recall was a "long overdue significant message from Mongolian authorities that the country wants back investment, both foreign and domestic".
Delays at the Oyu Tolgoi giant copper-gold mine, as well as uncertainty over rules for foreign investors, have led to a sharp drop in foreign direct investment in Mongolia. A drop in prices for coal, which feeds the state budget, has also hurt.
According to figures released by the Ministry of Economic Development this week, foreign direct investment fell 43 percent in the first six months of 2013, with geology, mining and petroleum down by a third.
GoM to build narrow gauge railway at borderpoints, acquire UHG-GS road to support coal export
Ulaanbaatar, August 18 /MONTSAME/ The cabinet Friday at its meeting decided to support the coal export, and released some resolutions.
They aim to increase a competitiveness of coal export, to improve the external trade balance, and to augment the localities' budgetary incomes.
Accordingly, the Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar and the Minister of Road and Transportation A.Gansukh were obliged to construct and put into use narrow-gauge railway for the Shiveekhuren and Gashuunsukhait border checkpoints.
Moreover, a head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government Ch.Saikhanbileg and the Minister N.Batbayar were given orders to purchase for state-ownership a paved-road between Taban tolgoi and Gashuunsukhait, which is constructed by the "Goviin Zam" LLC, and also an infrastructure, which is constructed for the Gashuunsukhait border checkpoint's capacity by "Energy Resource" LLC.
These road and infrastructure will be owned by the "Erdenes MGL" LLC .
Link to GoM release (in Mongolian)
Mongolia Central Bank Governor: Mortgage rates cut to support middle-class households
August 15 (CCTV) Mongolia's Central Bank Governor Naidansuren Zoljargal spoke to our reporter Martina Fuchs in Ulaanbaatar about the wider impact of the country's recent move to cut interest rates on mortgages, as well as his view on the future policy direction and relations with China.
CABINET APPROVES STRUCTURE OF STATE-OWNED HOUSING CORPORATION
Ulaanbaatar, August 18 /MONTSAME/ The cabinet Friday approved rules, organization and number of staffers of the state-owned housing corporation (SOHC).
The corporation has been established with a purpose to provide people with healthy and safe environment, it will have six sections with some 80 staffers, will be chaired by a director-general who shall be appointed by the Prime Minister.
Main functions of the SOHC are to construct, sell or purchase here apartments on behalf of the state, to constitute state-owned housing fund and to implement its ownership, exploitation and management. In addition, the corporation is to realize housing projects with domestic and foreign investments after researching their opportunities and feasibility studies, and maintain discount and/or supporting policies in providing the vulnerable strata with shelter.
Mongolia To Host 30th ABA General Meeting And Conference
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, Aug 16 (Bernama) -- The Mongolian Bankers Association (MBA) will host the 30th Asian Bankers Association (ABA) General Meeting and a Conference, the ABA has reported on its website.
Citing the website, Mongolia's Monsame news agency reported that ABA members will be gathering in Ulaanbaatar on Sept 12-13.
The dates and venue of these gatherings were confirmed by the ABA Planning Committee when it met here on April 11, 2013, at The Blue Sky Hotel and Tower, which will also be the venue for this year's Conference.
Chaired by ABA Chairman Lorenzo V. Tan, president and CEO of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation from the Philippines, the Planning Committee has agreed that the September Conference will focus on the theme "Asia: Growth Engine of the Global Economy".
Intended to provide a platform for ABA members, the upcoming Conference has invited experts to discuss how major developments in the global and regional markets will impact on the Asian banking sector and to exchange views on measures the Asian banking sector can undertake to help sustain growth. Also, to enable the Asia-Pacific region to play a catalytic role in the global economic growth and recovery.
Eminent speakers from both government and the private sector will share their views and insights on topics such as "Global Macroeconomics: Key Factors for Asian Banks", "Investment Opportunities and Challenges in Emerging Asian Markets", and "Electronic Channels: Reshaping the Financial Services Industry".
The CEO Forum will provide a high-level field for top bank executives and leaders to share best practices and experience, debate current strategic issues in banking, and discuss winning business approaches.
The "Discover ABA" session presentations, on the other hand, will be made by selected ABA member banks on their respective financial markets.
Does Presidential Pardon Bring End to Enkhbayar Saga?
By Julian Dierkes
August 15 (Mongolia Focus) Mongolian President Ts Elbegdorj was narrowly re-elected to a second term in the June 26 presidential election. He is embarking on this second and final term with expectations of personnel continuity and policy stability. He is setting out on this path with a bit of a bang, the announcement of a pardon for former President N Enkhbayar who has been released into civilian hospital care earlier in August 2013.
Enkhbayar's pardon is not unexpected and a political gamble to remove one of the thorns in Elbegdorj's side as he embarks on his next four years in office.
Recapping the Enkhbayar Saga
Enkhbayar rose through the then-Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) and was elected to the Ikh Khural (parliament) for this first time in 1992. He became the first person to hold all three highest elected offices in the country: prime minister (2000-04), chairman of parliament (2004-05), and president (2005-09).
Despite Enkhbayar's powerful positions and central role in the party, he is rarely associated with any particular policy initiatives or directions. The most momentous decision for Mongolia that should have come during his watch was the signing of an Investment Agreement covering Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto's investment in the massive Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper project. Yet, Enkhbayar was relatively un-inolved in this decision and the Agreement was ultimately only possible after Enkhbayar had lost the 2009 election, during Elbegdorj's first term in the context of a "grand coalition" of the MPRP and DP under Prime Minister S Bayar.
His power waned during his term as president and he was defeated in his bid for re-election by Elbegdorj in 2009 in part because his own party no longer stood behind him. He became further alienated from his party when then-Prime Minister S Bayar announced Enkhbayar's defeat to Elbegdorj very quickly after the election. This decision to force Enkhbayar to concede quickly was driven more by a desire for a speedy result following the violent unrest that had come with allegations of irregularities in the 2008 parliamentary election.
Enkhbayar's alienation from the MPRP intensified when S Batbold became party leader. Batbold asserted his leadership by pushing a name-change for the party which reverted to its pre-1924 name of Mongolian People's Party (MPP) in 2010.
While this name change was widely supported within the party, Enkhbayar gathered the opposition to the change and formed a splinter party which was ultimately allowed to assume the name of Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, even though the MPP was the organization that continued the existence of the socialist era-MPRP and retained its organization and assets.
As leader of the MPRP, Enkhbayar has taken a significant populist turn through the members of parliament that form the "Justice Coalition" together with the Mongolian National Democratic Party.
Allegations of Corruption
Allegations of corruption followed Enkhbayar throughout his political career. Most of these allegations focused on the business activities of his wife and the privatizations of public companies, but also pointed to the very sudden paying off of Mongolia's legacy debt to Russia during Enkhbayar's term as prime minister in 2003 by U.S.-Canadian mining entrepreneur Robert Friedland.
These allegations led to calls for investigations as soon as Enkhabayar's electoral defeat lifted his immunity. Enkhbayar's was arrested in April 2012, just as he was preparing for parliamentary elections at the end of June of that year. While some of the allegations were ultimately borne out by his trial and conviction, the timing of his arrest during the election campaign was seen by many as politically motivated and possibly orchestrated by Elbegdorj. This impression was reinforced by a public relations effort with sometimes downright silly blog posts, paid advertisements disguised as articles, and messages of support from foreign officials that seemed to be coordinated internationally by Enkhbayar supporters.
The campaign supporting Enkhbayar intensified when he went on hunger strike and was placed under hospital care during his pre-trial arrest. Despite various legal shenanigans and the international campaign, Enkhbayar was convicted of relatively minor corruption charges in August 2012 and sentenced to seven years in prison which was later reduced to three years.
Enkhbayar's Pardon and Its Implications
The fact that Elbegdorj has pardoned Enkhbayar has not come as a surprise. It deflects accusations against Elbegdorj and the DP that they are partisan in their pursuit of anti-corruption measures and makes the president look more like a head of state above the political fray.
The implications of this pardon will only become clear in the coming months as the fate of the MPRP under Enhkbayar and his and the party's role in cabinet and parliament become clearer. Since his arrest, the MPRP has largely been an Enkhbayar-proxy party.
Party representatives may have tried to negotiate with the DP over an Enkhbayar pardon at various moments, including when the MPRP was debating whether to field a presidential candidate or not. In the end, the party did nominate N Udval, so the current pardon does not appear part of a political bargain to prolong the cabinet under current Prime Minister N Altankhuyag. On the other hand, the MPRP members do have a fair bit of leverage as the DP-led cabinet is dependent on them for a majority.
Enkhbayar himself could conceivably be aiming for a return to active politics through a run for parliament in 2016, or, possibly even for the presidential election in 2017 when he would be 59 years old assuming that his health problems are not as severe as they may have appeared at times.
If the MPRP remains in the governing coalition this will present the challenge of how to distinguish itself from other coalition members in 2016. If they decide to leave the coalition, on the other hand, this may doom them to irrelevancy unless Enkhbayar's visibility remains high.
The party landscape in Mongolia will continue to change in coming years as the Mongolian People's Party tries to reclaim its dominant position and as the DP has its hands on all levers of power for the coming three years. If Enkhbayar does re-emerge as an active politician, this will have an impact on other DP officials, but probably not on Elbegdorj who has granted him this pardon.
Mongolia's democratization welcomed by all
August 4 (Today's Zaman) The recent presidential election held in Mongolia was well received by the international community, which has emphasized the democratic nature of the election.
In expressing their support, some countries are interested in helping their businesses increase their market shares while others are pushing their ideological agendas. Yet the consensus is that Mongolia has performed well in this latest test of democracy
This is most welcome for Mongolia, which was effectively cut off from the rest of the world throughout the Cold War. Since its independence, Ulaanbaatar has sought to rectify this state of affairs and has patiently sought to forge a path to integrate itself with important regional and global organizations.
In terms of achieving this self-declared aim, Mongolia's inclusion into the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -- which was achieved at the end of last year -- is a very good example of its desire to play a full role in international relations. In the past Mongolia demonstrated its willingness to play a role in maintaining international peace and security through participating mainly in peacekeeping operations in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Congo, Eritrea, Kosovo, Chad, Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, it enhanced its international prestige by chairing the Community of Democracies, thereby once again highlighting its commitment to democratic values.
In these respects, the Mongolian presidential election was considered to be an important steppingstone, especially by international mining companies and foreign investors. They were very keen to find out whether Mongolians would continue to support their reform-minded president or reject his approaches, instead preferring a different candidate whose image projected him as a fervent environmentalist who would protect Mongolian lands against the negative consequences of mining. Throughout the run-up to the election, much was made of "resource nationalism" and the fear this created in international mining circles. While there are genuine elements of such a sentiment that can be witnessed in some political parties, it is an aberration to categorize it as widespread.
The future of Mongolia looks very bright, indeed. In the short term a dip in the prices of commodities will certainly have a detrimental effect on the Mongolian economy and its economic growth rate. Looking towards the medium and long-term, however, if the Mongolian government gets the balance right in terms of investments, transparency and redistribution, then Mongolia can certainly become the best transition model for all post-socialist and even post-authoritarian regimes endeavoring to become more liberal democracies.
Mongolia has certainly made very good progress over the last two decades. In this respect, it has been aided by the economic fortune it has held. While it is appreciated that wealth does not always equate to liberalism or democracy, most democracies in the world are not poor. The chances are that the wealthier the individual citizen is, the more likely it is that their country's political regime will be more open, more liberal and more democratic.
Related to this, while all countries prefer to have vast natural resources, very few in the world possess them; it is simply a matter of the luck of the draw. Modern states also do not have the privilege of choosing their location on earth. Just as humans do not have the opportunity of choosing their parents or siblings, countries do not have the opportunity to choose where they are located or who their neighbors are.
Mongolia is a very good example of this obvious truism. Certainly it would wish to be in a different region with more neighbors. Stuck between two giant countries, the Russian Federation and China, Mongolia has consistently been attempting to find another actor that it can develop relations with. Such an actor could be the United States, the European Union, Japan, Turkey or others from Central Asian countries.
In this respect it must not be forgotten that one of the largest minorities living in Mongolian territory are the Kazakhs. Given that the two countries are only separated by a distance of 38 kilometers, the Kazakh government has over the past few years been finding ways and means to increase contact with Mongolia, especially in the economic and commercial spheres.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev alluded to this in his congratulatory telegram by mentioning the good neighborly and friendly relations between the two countries as well as the strengthening of mutually beneficial collaboration. He expressed confidence that "our close relationship towards the benefit of the two countries will further deepen."
Therefore, Mongolia is becoming a shining beacon of economic and political advancement not only for greater Central Asia but also for the Asia Pacific region. Observing the progress that Mongolia has achieved in terms of political and economic transition, it is easy to predict that many countries will try and court Ulaanbaatar.
This immediately came forth from Russian President Vladimir Putin after the election result was announced. He declared: "I truly believe that the Mongolian society and economy will grow intensively under your leadership. … I am willing to cooperate with you in activating and further developing Mongolia-Russia relations on a regional and international level partnership. I wish you all the best and great success on more of your achievements." It will come as no surprise to see regional organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) try to foster closer relations over the next few years alongside other industrialized states and multinational energy companies.
It is precisely sentiments and topics such as these that the re-elected Tsakhia Elbegdorj will be focusing his attention on. If he is able to manage the Mongolian economy well in tandem with his political party in parliament, then the next four years should provide more stability and greater wealth and growth for all Mongolians.
Should this be realized, President Elbegdorj will have ensured a very important place for himself in Mongolian political history. The constitution, similar to the American one, forbids any individual from serving as head of state more than twice. This means that Mongolia will have a new president in 2017. By that time the country will certainly be much richer and hopefully further progressing along the cumbersome path to democracy.
*Dr. Süreyya Yiğit is Eurasia advisor at the Centre for the Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM) and a lecturer at Istanbul Aydın University.
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Thai's Bumrungrad Hospital in talks to acquire hospital in Mongolia
August 19 (The Nation) Bumrungrad Hospital (BH) is in talks to acquire a private hospital in Mongolia and one in Phitsanulok province, the deals expected to need a total budget of up to Bt5 billion.
Chai Sophonpanich, chairman of BH, said the number of Mongolian patients at its Bangkok facility was increasing, so having a presence in their own country would help serve them.
Expanding into Mongolia would strengthen revenue in the future, he added.
"We want to be the majority shareholder in the hospital in Mongolia in order to oversee the management. However, Mongolian regulations do not allow foreigners to hold a 51-per-cent stake in a private company (Mogi: not true!), so we might seek local partners and jointly acquire shares of more than 51 per cent," he said.
Chai said that if the deal were completed, the company would not change the management team because they would be familiar with their customers.
He said the cost of acquiring a 51-per-cent stake in the hospital in Mongolia would be about Bt2 billion.
Meanwhile, Chai said BH was talking with the shareholders of a private hospital in Phitsanulok, again looking to control a 51-per-cent stake. The transaction would require a budget of Bt2 billion to Bt3 billion.
Holding more than 50 per cent will guarantee the right of management, unlike its previous investment for a 24.99-per-cent stake in Bangkok Chain Hospital, the operator of Kasemrad Hospital in Chiang Rai, from Land & Houses. BH disposed of all of its shares in BCH because of the lack of management rights at Kasemrad, he explained.
The company believes that expanding upcountry would increase its customer base. Moreover, the existing customers of the hospital in Phitsanulok province are in the higher-income segment, so the Bumrungrad brand will fit in well, he said.
Chai said BH had sufficient cash to invest in both hospitals after unloading its stake in BCH, bringing in Bt3 billion to Bt4 billion. Moreover, the company has Bt5 billion in funds from a debenture issue.
BH reported net profit in the second quarter of Bt579 million, up by 16 per cent year on year. As a result, its net earnings in the first six months were Bt1.19 billion.
BH stock last Friday rose by 1.1 per cent to close at Bt89.75.
BH expands in Mongolia, Phitsanulok – Bangkok Post, August 19
Bureau Veritas opens in Mongolia amid turbulent investment environment
August 16 (Business-Mongolia) Yesterday, Bureau Veritas Inspection and Testing Mongolia LLC, Mongolian branch of the global laboratory giant Bureau Veritas officially opened its comprehensive laboratory in Ulaanbaatar. BV is one of the largest multinational inspection, testing and certification company in the field of quality, health, safety and environment. It employs over 60,000 people globally in 140 countries with revenues about EUR4.0 billion.
President in charge of North Asia for Bureau Veritas Commodities Division Sebastian Dannaud stated that the in the near future all of the employees will be Mongolians. Currently, the new Mongolian employees are being trained by the experts who worked in the industry for over 25 years. He also added that the current facility built in Mongolia has state of the art equipment. The laboratory can cover the full cycle of coal from exploration to commercial export. The comprehensive range of tests for coking coal including washability test, according to standards recognized by the major international capital markets.
The Ulaanbaatar Laboratory is supported by skilled, competent samplers and analysis personnel and will be accredited to ISO IEC 17025:2005 and will meet the NATA Supplementary Requirements for Chemical Testing. The comprehensively equipped and dedicated coal testing facility is the first dedicated coal testing facility in Mongolia which will focus on the coal exploration industry to provide timely and accurate date required for evaluation of new resource areas for both Greenfield and Brownfield projects.
One of the distinguished guests B.Altsukh, Director of Coal Division, Mineral Resource Authority stated that over 200 samples sent abroad for testing and confirmation. With BV in Mongolia these samples doesn't need to be tested abroad because all the services can be performed locally. He welcomed BV's investment in Mongolia both technical and monetary amid turbulent investment environment. He added his confidence on the Mongolian coal industry that the brighter days are still to come.
THERE ARE NO PRODUCTS IN MONGOLIA CONTAINING CLOSTRIDIUM BOTULINUM
August 12 (InfoMongolia) In the past few days, New Zealand's Fonterra Company issued Clostridium botulinum bacteria warning to customers, who used whey protein concentrate products (WPC 80) produced in May, 2012.
In accordance with the guideline presented by the Director of the General Agency for Specialized Inspection of Mongolia, researches are underway in Mongolia whether products produced by the above mentioned goods are being sold or not. The General Customs Authority informed that, children's products, highly sterilized milk, yogurt, protein supplements for athletes, and whey protein concentrate products produced in China, Australia, Viet Nam, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia with milk powder from New Zealand were not imported in Mongolia.
Surveys are being conducted in Narantuul, Tenger, Kharkhorin, Bumbugur, Zambala, Extra, Sky, Orgil and Nomin markets in order to verify the information that children's products, highly sterilized milk, yogurt, protein supplements for athletes, and whey protein concentrate products produced in the mentioned countries are not being sold.
The mentioned products from the countries are not being sold at the listed markets. APU, Vitafit-Invest, and Teso Companies that use Fonterra milk powders do not use whey protein concentrate in their products. General Agency for Specialized Inspection has taken 4 samples from their raw product, milk powder and 4 samples from their final product to test whether they meet the standard requirements, informed the Agency for Specialized Inspection of the Capital City.
Farm Show 2013 features agricultural technology, products and services
By Michelle Borok
August 17 (UB Post) Farm Show 2013 was held in Darkhan City on August 15 and 16. The biennial show presented the latest available agricultural technology, locally grown and produced goods, and financial and technical services catering to small and large scale farming.
Despite the rain, international and local vendors were set up for two days of sales, information sharing, training and demonstrations in the plaza of Zaluuchuud Theatre. Visitors from Darkhan and neighboring aimags were shown the wide range of machinery and vehicles now available for seeding, cultivation and harvest in the Mongolian market. A conference attended by flour producers, large-scale farming operations and financial institutions was also held to review the future of Mongolia's agricultural sector.
Minsk Tractor Works presented their latest Belarus Tractors beside Wagner Asia's selection of Caterpillar combines and tractors. Both companies have sales, parts and maintenance services available in Mongolia. Ensada Tractron, with dealerships in Darkhan, showcased a selection of the Case IH and New Holland agricultural machinery available to Mongolian growers. Agromachtech LLC, a longtime Russian supplier of equipment, service, training and parts, brought in the latest tractors available from China's YTO brand. Intose Co. featured harvesting combines from Finland's premier manufacturer, Sampo Rosenlew. Russia's Rostselmash was also on site to speak to local media about their products and services. Germany's Claas was also available to provide information about their training programs and equipment available for large scale farming projects.
Golomt and Xac Bank had representatives present to review financing options available for many of the vendors with machinery on display.
Locally manufactured food companies, including vegetable oil producer Mongol Altan Tos, France Brand bread, Ulaanbaatar Flour, Milko, Mongol Food and others, offered promotional material, sales, and product samples. Small scale producers from Darkhan and Selenge aimag were also on hand with fresh produce, honey, and jams and syrups made from native berries and fruits.
First time vendor at this year's Farm Show, Ganesha Irrigation was presenting irrigation solutions from Israeli-Indian NaanDan Jain Irrigation. Executive Director of Ganesha Irrigation, Amrit Sumaadii, spoke about their work as the official distributors of NaanDan Jain products in Mongolia, a company with 75 years of experience in irrigation systems. Since entering the market in 2009, Ganesha has been competing with sprinkler systems available from South Korea and China. At the Farm Show they focused on their drip line irrigation systems well suited and proven for Mongolia's seabuckthorn production and other deep-rooted farming. Of interest to many of the attendees at the Farm Show, they also introduced their range of easy-to-assemble sprinkler systems for greenhouses.
The Farm Show presents a valuable opportunity for Mongolia's small and large scale agriculturists, giving them access to new ideas for expansion and implementation of more efficient systems for their businesses. Darkhan Uul Aimag, considered to be the heart of Mongolia's agriculture industry, was happy to host and sponsor the Farm Show this year, along with the Ministry of Agriculture and Industry, Association of Mongolian Farmers, the Academy of Greenery and Agriculture, and Ulaanbaatar Flour LLC.
Region weaving links with the Mongolians
August 15 (The Southern Reporter) Last week I hosted a visit by the Mongolian ambassador to the Borders to develop links between his country and our local cashmere industry.
Mongolia is one of the world's top producers of cashmere so it was a great opportunity for Hawick Cashmere to explore ways in which it could establish contacts with the Mongolian cashmere supply.
During the visit we watched the 70-strong Central Orchestra from the Mongolian Armed Forces perform. It was a fantastic spectacle and I have no doubt that everyone who came along thoroughly enjoyed the colour and energy of the performance.
Following this, the ambassador and I took a tour round Hawick Cashmere and met David Sanderson and Jim Thomson to discuss the cashmere trade.
It was a really enjoyable and useful time together and I want to thank everyone involved for making it such a success.
It was a privilege to open new facilities at two local businesses, one at Farne Salmon in Duns and the other at Forbes Technologies Ltd in Kelso.
Both were clear signals that these Borders businesses are thriving and expanding, and creating the jobs we need locally.
The new facility at Farne Salmon has created 32 jobs and has been a real boost to the local economy in Duns. It was great to witness first hand the expertise and innovation of the team there and I was pleased to be able to congratulate them for all their hard work in making the new facility possible.
The £1.7million Forbes facility has been built in response to an increased demand for the company's products. The new addition to the factory will boost production and continue to provide secure, highly-skilled jobs for local people.
I want to thank Lee Forbes and his team for inviting me to open the facility.
I have just finished my annual summer community advice surgeries where I visited more than 50 towns and villages across the Borders. A huge range of issues were brought to my attention over the fortnight, including concerns about the number of wind farms and the state of the roads. I will be following up all the issues brought to my attention, and on these two particular concerns I will be raising them again with senior officials at the council in the very near future.
The Billion Dollar Cashmere Industry And Its Impact In Central Asia
The multi-billion dollar global cashmere industry is placing native wild animals in Central Asia at risk, finds a new study.
AsianScientist (Aug. 14, 2013) – In the world of fashion, what is trendy today can become faux pas tomorrow. But those that stand the test of time, become immortalized. Like cashmere, for example. Made famously fashionable by Empress Josephine of France, who was gifted her first piece of cashmere by Napoleon, cashmere very quickly turned into a symbol of fashionable living across Europe. It has since been a must-have for most fashion aficionados.
But the growing multi-billion dollar cashmere industry has a far greater impact than just on the fashion market. The survival of many native wild animals in Central Asia may be at stake, finds a new study published in Conservation Biology.
Using data collected from India, Mongolia and China's Tibetan plateau, a team of international researchers have found a disturbing link between the global cashmere trade and declining native wildlife species occurring there. Several endangered large mammals, such as the kiang, Tibetan gazelle, Przewalski gazelle, chiru and saiga, as well as the iconic snow leopard, which co-exist with cashmere producing goats in the deserts and grasslands of Central Asia, are being driven to the edge of survival.
But how did the researchers connect the dots?
"I did not start out with this sort of question in mind," says Joel Berger, a biologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society, professor at University of Montana, and part of the team. "In fact, I went to Mongolia to study the saiga – an endangered antelope. But I kept discovering more and more goats in habitats that would have once been inhabited by saiga. It took several years before I started to ask the question, 'Why are there so many goats and why are they increasing?'"
Berger, together with Bayarbaatar Buuveibaatar of Wildlife Conservation Society, Mongolia, and Charudutt Mishra of the Snow Leopard Trust, found increasing evidence of how the international demand for cashmere wool is driving herders to increase their goat numbers in order to improve profits. In Mongolia, domestic goats showed a four-fold increase from being 21 percent of the total livestock biomass in 1975 to a staggering 82-88 percent in 2004-06. The researchers observed a similar disparate rise in livestock numbers in their study areas in India and China.
"The severity of the finding surprised me," Berger explains to Asian Scientist Magazine. "The livestock abundance was something along the line of ten heads, or even 20 heads of livestock for [every] native herbivores, many of which are endangered."
Such high livestock pressure has many ecological effects on these native herbivores. Increased grazing by domestic livestock and other human activities have been pushing the endangered native large mammals into sub-optimal habitats, even forcing them to avoid livestock and abandon their feeding grounds in some cases. Very often, feral and free-ranging dogs displace the native species, including snow leopards. The researchers have seen dogs chase and kill chiru, saiga, and gazelles from their preferred feeding grounds in their study regions.
With a drop in native wild herbivore numbers, livestock depredations by snow leopards have been on the rise. Such conflict brings with it a rise in the retaliatory killing of snow leopards.
For the people in the semi-arid and arid regions of Central Asia, livestock production has traditionally been one of the primary sources of livelihoods. The trend has also been towards increasing cashmere producing domestic goats over others. Cashmere wool, significantly lighter and warmer than sheep wool, comes from the fine, downy hair on the underbelly of these cashmere goats and usually entails a slow and cumbersome process of harvesting and processing it. It is thus a luxury, but a very popular one.
"This paper brings out how something that is often passed-off as traditional activities of native people that has allowed coexistence with wildlife for thousands of years, is in fact not traditional any longer," Yash Veer Bhatnagar, Director at Snow Leopard Trust-India, tells Asian Scientist Magazine. "The Western market has driven the demand for cashmere so much that the livestock numbers across the region has multiplied manifold, far surpassing the number or biomass of wild herbivores."
China and Mongolia together produce 90 percent of the world's cashmere supply, while Italy, China, United Kingdom and Japan are the top four importers. Herder profits for cashmere have also seen an increase in the past years. In Mongolia, the profit margins for cashmere have in fact outstripped the cost of living significantly, the study finds. The authors write that such incentives for cashmere production also exist in many other parts of Central Asia.
"Our other studies in Ladakh have shown how this burgeoning pashmina production has limited the recovery of at least two endangered species – the Tibetan gazelle and Tibetan argali. Also, the desire for increased pashmina production by the herders leads them to expect more from the rangelands. This can even lead them to look at wild herbivores, that are a fraction of their holdings, as competitors," says Bhatnagar.
The challenges in reducing this dissonance between the co-existence of domestic and native large mammals while sustaining pastoralist livelihoods, are daunting, the authors say.
In the report, the authors write that one alternative to reducing this conflict lies is reducing the number of domestic goats and instead increasing the number of domestic yaks or camels, which have lower dietary overlap with the native mammals. But their coarser fiber is not as appealing to Western consumers, who also usually lack awareness about the origin of cashmere products and the impact of their production on the native wild species of Central Asia.
To counter this, "green labeling," together with reduced livestock densities, may offer a sustainable solution to start with, the authors write. But what is more urgently required is for the clothing industry to become a part of the conservation movement, they add.
For the team, their aim is not to pit humans against conservation. Instead, they have started working towards developing workshops that will bring various stakeholders together to discuss how best they can move forward.
"We are just beginning now that the data is available," says Berger, "And we hope that five years from now, this dialogue can turn into conservation."
The article can be found at: Berger J et al. (2013) Globalization of the Cashmere Market and the Decline of Large Mammals in Central Asia.
Rhythm and desire: UB Auto Tuning Show
August 17 (UB Post) The UB Auto Tuning Show will be held at the Misheel Expo Center on Saturday, August 17, for the second time after a three-year break. This large-scale event, initiated by M77 Club, will gather sports car fans in Mongolia. Head of the Federation of Mongolian Sports Car Fans G.Nasanjargal spoke to Unuudur Daily Newspaper regarding the upcoming event.
-The date of the second UB Auto Tuning Show has been scheduled. What are the features of this event?
-Some 50 of the best sports cars were chosen from 200 in Mongolia to be part of the UB Auto Tuning Show. The preparations for the show have been completed. A regular auto show introduces everyday cars to people, but the aim of the UB Auto Tuning Show is to present and choose the sports car with the best machinery in Mongolia. Also during the show, people will be able to see other sports cars in the country which can give them an idea of the level of economic development in Ulaanbaatar. It can also show them a better picture of the variety of current vehicles in the country, with sports cars as an expression of the youth's interest and desire.
-What does the Federation of Mongolian Sports Car Fans do?
-This time, the UB Auto Tuning Show is being hosted by the M77 Club, an affiliate of our federation. We had experience organizing the show in 2010. We attended and learned from our experience in the Seoul Motor Show in 2011, and then participated in the Baikal Sports Car Show with our four sports cars, which was organized in Irkutsk, Russia. The Federation of Mongolian Sports Car Fans has around 40 members.
-Only men tend to be interested in auto shows. This time around, is the show open to families?
-Our show welcomes families. Most of the auto shows are observed by fathers and sons, and women in families stay home. But this time, the competition and performance of remote control cars will be held outside the Misheel Expo Center, so the women have something to watch out for. Also, we are planning to organize a car race devoted for children and a skillful driving competition for ladies at the show. The event will conclude at 7 pm. At the end of this whole-day event, the best sports car will be selected out of all of the sports cars based on the votes of the event's attendees. Every person who bought the entrance ticket is eligible to vote.
-Even though the quality of Mongolia's roads is still being improved, they are still sub-par which are not suitable for sports cars.
-The presence of sports cars is one of the development measures of the country. If we do not have or do not drive sports cars, it cannot be said that Mongolia is developing. But today, the Mongolian youth are uniting under one interest and hobby which is collecting sports cars. Last year when we attended the auto show in Irkutsk, the local people thought that we were Japanese. They were amazed later to know that we are from Mongolia. They had the perception that Mongolia barely has cars, especially sports cars.
-Are some parts of the show based on your experiences in observing international auto shows?
-It will be organized with the same standards of international auto shows. Mongolian engineers and auto clubs assemble new cars and add various sets of equipment and accessories to them, but only a few people know about that. Mongolian auto car fans hold regular meetings and organize drift and drag races. But people have no concept about that. The aim of the show is to organize a wide-range of activities such as to introduce sports cars and car races to the public.
-Where were the majority of sports cars in Mongolia brought from?
-The majority of them used to come from Japan, but now a number of sports cars are coming from Europe and the United States. During the show, the car that is one hundred-percent manufactured by Mongolian engineers will be shown. Currently, the car is named after its maker.
-What brand of car dominates in Mongolia?
-Almost 80 percent of sports cars known to the world are present in Mongolia. All cars from the most expensive, high-class super cars to regular cars are being seen in this country. Up until recent days, people have had the concept that a person who is driving an expensive large vehicle is rich. But this concept is changing. The rich is being ranked by virtue of their sports cars. Cars of the Super Cars classification can now be found in Mongolia. A car in this category costs at least 100 thousand USD. The most expensive car in Mongolia is estimated to be priced at around 500 million USD excluding its additional parts and machinery. At least 50 thousand dollars will be added to include its additional parts.
-It is interesting to know what the head of the federation's cars are. How many cars do you have?
-I drive a Toyota Supra and Nissan Sylvia. Supra is devoted for drag racing; while Sylvia is for drift challenges.
-How often do drag and drift races take place here?
-Drag races are organized secretly. It is a risky sport with plenty of possibilities for accidents and crashes. Some young people get into accidents with regular cars because of over speeding and trying to make the same tricks as they can do with race cars. Drift races are organized three times a year. After the UB Auto Tuning Show, a drift race will be held and the best will be selected. The best five racers will be given the rights to participate in the drift race in Russia next year.
-When did you start getting interested in sports cars?
-I have been a fan of sports cars and races for six years. The reason for my hobby is obvious as boys start playing with cars when they are small. I have actively started to study sports cars when it became financially viable for me to buy a car. Financial issues are significant in such a sports field. If you have no money, you can't install additional machineries in your car. Also, this kind of car is not suitable for regular driving. It is kept in the garage most of the time.
-Do you collect model cars?
-There are many guys who collect model cars. As for me, I am trying to collect sports cars. I have plenty of things to do to recondition and maintain my cars such as installing additional parts, which makes me busy.
-How many cars have you made over so far?
-I have given six sports cars a makeover. I was the first one to bring a Toyota Celica sports car in Mongolia in 2010. That car took first place in the 2010 UB Auto Tuning Show.
Its doors are opened upwards and it had 1000-megawatt speakers installed in the back, which was a new thing for Mongolians. Today, there are many such cars in Mongolia.
-Sports stack is forbidden in Mongolia, isn't it?
-The Traffic Police Department allows sports stack only in cars with turbo engines. It is wrong for the regular Accent and Verna cars to be driven along the residential streets and make loud noises. Usually, taxi drivers do that. But people think that we are making noises during sleeping hours to annoy people. We drive our cars only during competitions.
-If they like a certain car, can they buy it during the auto show?
-The car owners will be next to their cars, so trade is possible. Currently, all of the car owners who will participate in the show are working on their cars' appearance and installing additional sets of equipment.
-Will your two cars be in the show?
-One of them will be in the show. The other one will be shown to the public to promote "Undral Tuning Service," the store which imports sports car parts.
During the UB Auto Tuning show, respect will be paid to the owners of luxurious and rare cars by inviting them to park in special parking spaces. Also, the representatives of trade and service entities related to car equipment and parts will gather at the show.
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FINAL BID FOR CHP5 CONSTRUCTOR TO RUN THIS MONTH
Ulaanbaatar, August 16 /MONTSAME/ A tender for constructing a new #5 thermal power station will run this month, the Minister of Energy M.Sonompil Thursday said at a working group meeting with consortiums.
A place has been selected for the power station in front of the "Urgakh Naran" apartment town in eastern part of Bayanzurkh district.
The station is supposed to have a capability of 450 MWt.
For the time being, two competitors--the "International power" and "Samsung C&T" consortiums have been selected for a final stage of the tender from 11 companies.
The meeting consulted terms of a contract to be established with a selected performer, received opinions of the consortiums. In addition, the working group reported on works--already executed and being run--within the project, proposals and recommendations from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the best and final offer to the consortiums' projects including total investment, the electricity tariff and a term of the construction works.
The Minister emphasized that the tender will select one consortium who is to offer the most effective proposal, adding the bilateral talks will continue soon.
Apart of the Minister, the group's meeting brought together Ch.Saikhanbileg, a head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government, and N.Batbayar, the Minister of Economic Development.
INCHEON DELEGATION INITIATES TO ESTABLISH A "INCHEON DREAM PARK"
August 12 (InfoMongolia) With invitation from the Minister of Environment and Green Development S.Oyun, delegation led by Mayor of Incheon, Korea, Mr. Song Yong-Gil is visiting Ulaanbaatar City on August 08-11, 2013.
The Incheon delegation met with Governor of Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar City E.Bat-Uul on August 09. During the meeting, the sides not only exchanged views to cooperate in urban development, construction, green development and to implement student and government official exchange programs, but the Incheon sides also expressed their interest to establish "Incheon Dream Park".
The sides agreed to organize a "Businessmen and investors summit of Republic of Korea and Ulaanbaatar city" in Incheon. Ulaanbaatar City established friendly relations with Incheon in 2008 and since have been cooperating in cultural, health, and educational sectors.
Moreover, Mayor of Incheon Mr.Song Yong-Gil visited the "Olympic House" and met with the President of the Mongolian National Olympic Committee (MNOC) D.Zagdsuren. President of the MNOC D.Zagdsuren praised Mayor of Incheon Mr.Song Yong-Gil's contribution to Mongolian sports and awarded him with the "Altan Ochir" order.
Mongolia Increases Water Prices
August 15 (news.mn) The Water Services Regulatory Commission of Mongolia (WSRC) announced a decision that households living in apartments must pay 2000 MNT additionally on top of the fixed charge for water usage every month.
The charge will be effective from today August 15th. The Water Services Regulatory Commission of Mongolia announced the newly approved water charge for households in apartments, entities and companies depending on the diameter of the pipes for home water supply.
The new charge for 15 mm diameter pipes for the water supply will be 5500 MNT and for 50 mm pipes it will be 41,000 MNT.
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HH Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah receives Mongolian president
ULAN BATOR, Aug 18 (KUNA) -- His Highness the Amir (of the State of Kuwait) Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received on Sunday Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj at His Highness' residence in Mongolia (Mogi: soooo, Elbegdorj went to the Amir's residence IN Mongolia, sure, sure.).
HH the Amir and the president held a cordial conversation depicting the good ties bounding the two friendly countries and peoples. The discussions addressed means of cooperation between them in various sectors.
The meeting was attended by Kuwait's Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Chairman of the Association of the National Olympics Committees (ANOC) and Chairman of the Kuwaiti Olympic Committee Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah and the Kuwaiti ambassador to Mongolia Mubarak Mohammad Al-Suhaijan.
New Zealand Foreign Minister McCully to visit China, Mongolia and Hong Kong
August 18 (Voxy.co.nz) Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully will travel to China, Mongolia and Hong Kong this week for a series of bilateral meetings.
"This visit, which has been planned for some time, will enable me to update authorities on the response to recent meat and dairy issues," Mr McCully says.
In China, Mr McCully will meet his counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and State Councillor Yang Jiechi to discuss a wide range of issues.
"Our relationship with China is much broader than trade. We are working closely together on a range of issues, including in the Pacific where China is an increasingly important player," Mr McCully says.
"Te Mato Vai, the $60 million water partnership between New Zealand, China and the Cook Islands, is the first of its kind and a blueprint for future development cooperation in the region."
Mr McCully will also make his first visit to Mongolia where he will meet President Elbegdorj Tsakhia and Foreign Minister Bold Luvsanvandan to discuss possible cooperation in agriculture and education.
In Hong Kong, Mr McCully will meet government representatives and members of the business community.
By Brandon Miliate
August 18 (The Diplomat) Since 1990, Mongolia has pursued a multidirectional foreign policy, forging strong ties with such global players as the United States, European Union, Japan, South Korea and India. This so-called "third neighbor policy" has given Mongolia much greater reach than might be expected as a small state sandwiched between Russia and China. Still, there are notable holes in Mongolia's foreign relations. While the almost non-existent relations with remote Africa and South America are perhaps not surprising, the fact that Mongolian-Kazakhstani relations remain at a bare minimum is not as easy to explain.
Mongolia is separated from Kazakhstan by only a thin strip of land, less than 40 km across. There are Kazakhs living in Mongolia, most of them in the far western province of Bayan-Ölgii. Some 60,000 Kazakhs returned to Kazakhstan as part of the Oralmandar program from 1990-1992. From this number, about 10,000 have come back to Mongolia, finding life in Kazakhstan too difficult for non-Russian speakers (Mogi: don't think not speaking Russian was the problem, besides, everyone at that time spoke Russian if not native-level but as a fluent 2nd language, or 3rd for Kazakhs. The problem was that it was difficult for 3rd, 4th generation Kazakhs to assimilate in a foreign country, and was ultimately discriminated heavily because of that, treated as unwelcome immigrants). Kazakhs and Mongolians have a shared history as nomadic pastoralists, with many cultural similarities remaining to this day. Yet factors such as proximity, population ties and cultural similarities seem to count for little in contemporary affairs (Mogi: I think the foreign policy towards Kazakhstan is heavily dictated by the Kazakhs themselves in Mongolia. There was never a time a Kazakh wasn't elected to parliament from Bayan-Ulgii, sending I believe at least two MPs, and there are many large-profile Kazakhs in politics and I've never seen them voice discontent. if not publicly but loudly, about the country's policy towards Kazakhstan.).
Mongolia established with Kazakhstan in 1992, and it remains the only country in the region to . However, a brief look shows that relations between the two countries have been unimpressive. A number of high-level visits between heads of state have failed to result in economic or institutional engagement. Trade currently stands at a little over $43 million ($26 million in exports from Mongolia; $18 in million imports). No more than five Mongolian students study in Kazakhstan annually. stands at only about $12 million, making it the 35th largest investor in Mongolia, with only 34 Kazakhstani companies operating in the country.
These minimal relations between two states so close to each other culturally and geographically are initially perplexing. However, there are three primary barriers to political and economic ties: historical political boundaries, Kazakhstani-Russian relations and the limitations of authoritarian-democratic interaction.
In the 1800s, the territory of modern day Kazakhstan was integrated into the Russian Empire, effectively beginning the process of closing off the Kazakh people from the outside world, including Mongolia. With the establishment of the Soviet Union and the subsequent division of Central Asia into ethnic republics, Russia had effectively made the region its own. True, Mongolia was closely aligned with the USSR, but Soviet economic planners had more direct control over Kazakhstan and dealt with the two separately. By the time Mongolia and Kazakhstan were free to pursue their own relations, history had taken its toll. The original ties between the Kazakh and Mongolian peoples had been effectively severed, complicating any foundation for relations today.
Second, while Mongolia is determined to defeat geographic destiny and balance out Russia and China through the use of "third neighbors," Kazakhstan has been more willing to accept and even encourage close ties with the Russian Federation. Of course, Kazakhstan has also pursued deeper ties with the United States, China and Turkey, but it remains enmeshed in Russian-led institutions such as the CIS, CSTO, EurAsEC and SCO. From Mongolia's perspective, keeping the role of Russia balanced means avoiding close cooperation with the Russian Federation's principle allies/partners, including Kazakhstan.
Third, Mongolia has focused on developing links with the , and although it has officially declared that it will not cut ties with communist or authoritarian states, it also does not go out of its way to develop relations with such regimes. Mongolia has invested effort in , such as the United States and European Union members, participating in NATO's PfP, hosting military exercises such as Khaan Quest, and joining the OSCE in 2012. Getting too close to an authoritarian state, even one that is a near neighbor, would call into question Mongolia's democratic values and credentials.
In the foreseeable future, Mongolia and Kazakhstan will continue to share close cultural ties and develop more people-to-people relations. As Mongolia continues to develop economically, Kazakhstan may become more important as a fellow resource-based economy. However, political and/or military ties are unlikely to develop, given Kazakhstan's continued close engagement with the Russian Federation and authoritarian government, coupled with Mongolia's reluctance to befriend such states.
CHINA, MONGOLIA CONSULAR MEETING HELD, HK VISA, PRISONER TRANSFER DISCUSSED
August 13 (InfoMongolia) The XV consular meeting of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the People's Republic of China was held in Ulaanbaatar on August 08-09, 2013.
During the meeting, Director of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Sh.Sukhbaatar and head of delegation Director General of the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China Huang Ping evaluated the implementation of the agreements established in the consular relations sector between the two nations and exchanged views to improve conditions for citizens to travel.
Representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labor, Mongolian Immigration Agency, General Authority for Border Protection, General Police Department, Consuls of the General Consulate of Mongolia in Hohhot (Khukh Khot) and the Consulate in Erlian (Ereen) City participated from the Mongolian side. The Mongolian side presented topics such as issuing visas in Erlian City with returning documents to Mongolian citizens who've lost their passports, to meet with and get the support of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Executives to extend the 14 day visa-free travel agreement with Hong Kong to 30 days, to ratify the "Agreement between Mongolia and China to transfer prisoners" and to put it into effect in the near future.
Also, the Mongolian side demanded China to regulate payment demand and delay for freight transportation and alleviate conditions for citizens to travel at border points such as the Zamyn-Uud - Erlian, Bulgan of Khovd Aimag - Takeshiken in Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, Bayankhoshuu of Dornod Aimag - Uvdug, China, and Khangi of Dornogovi Aimag – Mandal ports.
The Mongolian side expressed their gratitude to China for taking actions to implement their request to transfer the 12 Mongolian citizens imprisoned in China and thanked them for allowing the prisoners to meet with consul officials and their families without any difficulties and permitting them to keep in contact with their families through letters, phone calls and passing on money and clothes sent from home. As of July, 2013, 54 Mongolian citizens are imprisoned in 9 Chinese cities and 82 Mongolian citizens are being detained in 11 Chinese cities as crime suspects.
Mongolia-China consular meeting held – UB Post, August 15
Mongolian troops, police begin non-lethal weapons exercise with US Marines
FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia, August 17 (DVIDS) – U.S. Marines and Mongolian Armed Forces service members were back on the parade deck here for the start of another training evolution Aug. 17, only a couple days after the closing ceremony for the multinational peacekeeping exercise Khaan Quest 2013.
This time around, they were joined by officers from the Mongolian General Police.
A joint-combined team of approximately 170 military and police personnel kicked off the Non-Lethal Weapons Executive Seminar (NOLES), a regularly scheduled field training exercise and leadership seminar, taking place at Five Hills Training and Ulaanbaatar through Aug. 28.
Mongolia, a regular participant, also hosted NOLES in 2007 and 2010. Now in its 12th iteration, the exercise is designed to promote awareness and effective use of non-lethal weapons.
"We need to understand that future conflicts will mandate that battlefield commanders have a thorough understanding of non-lethal weapons, their tactics, and how to employ them," said 1st Lt. Ryan Trunk, a training officer with Law Enforcement Battalion, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group and officer-in-charge of the U.S. Marine training detachment participating in the exercise.
Mongolian Armed Forces have significant experience in peacekeeping operations, to include deployments to South Sudan, Sierra Leone and the Balkans, as well as to coalition operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Trunk, from Brookline, Mass., said that gaining experience with non-lethal weapons will only assist in their peace support efforts around the world.
"Over the next 10 days, we look forward to training you, learning from you, sharing experiences, and making friends," he said.
Mongolian Armed Forces Lt. Col. J. Molorbold, senior staff officer for the MAF's Peace Support Operations Department and exercise director, thanked the 15 Marines from LE Battalion for their participation as trainers and assistant trainers.
"I hope that you guys have a great time, and take care of my soldiers," Molorbold said, emphasizing the importance of safety throughout the exercise.
Trunk stressed that safety when dealing with NLW's is always the top priority, but did so without sugar-coating the intensity of the days to come.
"The training – at times – is going to be painful, it's going to be extremely difficult, but at the end I can guarantee you that it's going to be well worth it," said Trunk.
The two-part, non-lethal weapons FTX and seminar is sponsored by U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, and hosted annually by nations throughout Asia-Pacific.
MarForPac commander: 'Security, stability, prosperity' key as Khaan Quest 2013 comes to an end
FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia, August 17 (DVIDS) – Service members from 13 participating nations and four observer countries – China, Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan – gathered here for the exercise Khaan Quest 2013 closing ceremony, Aug. 14.
Hosted annually by the Mongolian Armed Forces with co-sponsorship alternating between U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific and U.S. Army Pacific, approximately 1,000 troops from Mongolia, U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, India, Nepal, Republic of Korea, Tajikistan, United Kingdom and Vietnam took part in the exercise.
Throughout Khaan Quest, participants engaged one another through field training and command post exercises in Tavan Tolgoi (Five Hills) Training Area. Medical subject matter expertise exchanges and cooperative health engagements, as well as engineering civic action program (ENCAP) projects, took place in nearby Nalaikh district, Ulaanbaatar.
The four separate components of the exercise all focused on enhancing international peacekeeping operations and strengthening joint-combined capabilities through military-to-military cooperation.
"I'm truly pleased greeting the peacekeepers, who share the same goal despite speaking different languages and having different cultures," said Mr. Puntsag Tsagaan, Chief of Staff Office of the President of Mongolia.
"I would like to express sincere thanks to U.S. Pacific Command for supporting this event (and in turn) supporting peace," Tsagaan said, addressing the international troops standing in formation. "I have no doubt that the skills you learned during the Khaan Quest exercise will blossom into peace and happiness for (the entire) world."
Following remarks from Lt. Gen. Ts. Byambajav, Chief of General Staff, Mongolian Armed Forces, the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific – which served as the U.S. executive agent for this year's exercise – addressed the delegation.
"There are no more fundamental ideals that span across the human race than security, stability and prosperity," said Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling, commander of MarForPac. "Finding a group of nations willing to pursue these ideals seems simple, but in reality the actual implementation is a challenge.
"Many nations fear that by working with other countries multilaterally, their sovereign interests will be undermined, or that the success of other countries somehow undermines their own," Robling said. "Others may feel that they cannot or do not share a common purpose with those who appear different or speak a different language … Khaan Quest is a concrete illustration of how unfounded these fears and concerns are."
While MarForPac Marines and the U.S. military as a whole conduct numerous training exercises around the world on a regular basis, Robling emphasized the importance of one that focuses on multinational peacekeeping operations.
"The more peaceful and secure the world is as a whole, the better it is for the flow of commerce, international trade and our nations' individual futures," Robling said. "It is something we all must work together cooperatively to achieve."
UN Peacekeeping Exercise 'Khaan Quest' Marks 10 Year Anniversary
By Jonathan B. Miller
August 16 (Forbes) "Khaan Quest 2013″ came to an end this week in Mongolia. The annual exercises, which were held this year from August 3-14, bring together more than a dozen militaries from around the world with the goal of sharing best practices and interoperability for multinational peacekeeping operations (PKO). "Khaan Quest has become one of the signature training events for the participating nations," said Mongolian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Ts. Byambajav, chief of general staff for the Mongolian Armed Force. "At this moment we have more than 150,000 international peacekeeping troops performing their duties overseas … this is a result of the Khaan Quest exercises."
This year's exercises were especially significant as it marked the 10th year anniversary of the event, started in 2003 by the United States and Mongolia. This year, 14 nations, and over 1,000 officers, joined the exercises (including the host): Mongolia, the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Nepal, South Korea, Tajikistan, the United Kingdom and Viet Nam. U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, praised KQ13 exercises: "It's all about moving forward together. So as we begin this very important exercise, I ask each and every one of you to foster the understanding and trust that the world will depend upon."
While the exercises help work on PKO tactics, Khaan Quest also remains a showcase for Mongolia to display its strategic ties with the United States and NATO. Last year, NATO approved an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme with Mongolia marking the formalization of a relationship that has blossomed within the past decade due to contributitions from the MAF in Kosovo, Sudan and Afghanistan.
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CSRM: Mongolia Research Hub
An urgent research priority for sustainable development
(Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, University of Queensland) Mongolia is a country on the verge of significant industrial and economic expansion prompted by a growing mining boom. Research is required to successfully negotiate Mongolia's rapid development in the face of interrelated social and environmental challenges.
CSRM's Mongolia Research Hub is an initiative designed to build and support collaborative research into the social development opportunities and challenges surrounding Mongolia's resource industry.
Our research engages with mining related issues at the national, regional and community level with a diverse range of Mongolian partners.
In 2013 SMI-CSRM won an AusAID Development Research Award Scheme (ADRAS). The ADRAS is AusAID's flagship competitive research program, funding primary research projects to improve the quality and effectiveness of Australian aid in developing countries. CSRM'S research addresses themes in Mining and Development with a primary focus on gender issues in Mongolia. The project, titled will be conducted from June 2013 until June 2015.
Mongolia turns to tourism for economic growth
THE MONGOLIAN EMBASSY IN BEIJING PRESENTS MONGOLIAN BLING
August (Mongolian Bling) As the credits rolled on Mongolian Bling's screening in Beijing, a young man approached me, thanked me for the film and mentioned that his mother would like to speak to me. I'd been asked to clear the area so that we could set up for Quiza's concert but he insisted and I turned around to see a smiling Mongolian woman making her way thru the crowd on crutches.
"That was excellent!" she exclaimed as she pushed her way to the front of the gathering people, "We must show my husband."
Her name was Oyunchimeg and her husband, it turned out, was the Mongolian Ambassador to China. "He's sorry he can't make it," she told me as Quiza started to rap onstage.
Lots of people had seen Mongolian Bling. It'd screened in 13 cities on four continents but as far as I knew, it hadn't screened to any Mongolian government officials. I was stoked that the embassy had been represented in the crowd and excited at the prospect of the ambassador seeing the film.
A flurry of emails followed and four days later I was sitting in the Mongolian Embassy showing the film to Ambassador Sukhbaatar and a gaggle of employees, children, spouses and grandparents who called the embassy home.
It was the first screening to a Mongolian-only audience and I noticed laughter at places I'd not heard it before. Other places where laughter usually erupts, silence reigned. I was a bit nervous when the rappers started talking about the issues in Mongolian life and the problems within the government but Sukhbaatar obviously wasn't. At the end of the film he stood up and proudly announced 'More people must see this film."
And so it came to be that the Mongolian Embassy organised a screening of Mongolian Bling and invited all the diplomats in Beijing.
Sukhbaatar and Oyunchimeg stood inside the embassy, welcoming the guests as they arrived. Their son Erdene, who lives in Beijing studying, manned the front gate as people from all over the world walked in. Belarus. Afghanistan. Ireland. Spain. Norway. Denmark. Belgium. France. It felt like a mini United Nations. Three women from the Indonesian and Iraqi embassies snuck in as the lights dimmed and the film started.
After the screening the Afghani Charge d' Affairs came up to me. "You have this hop hop in Australia?" he inquired. The musical genre had recently taken root in his country and he liked how Mongolian Bling had shown a fresh side of Mongolia. "Maybe we need to make a film about Afghani hip hop" he mused as people started to drift into the spring evening. I couldn't agree more with him and as I thanked the embassy and began walking home, my mind was already dreaming up the opening sequence to Hijab Hip hop.
WHO Director-General meets with President Ts.Elbegdorj
August 17 (UB Post) Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Margaret Chan, who is paying a four-day official visit to Mongolia, met with President Ts.Elbegdorj on Tuesday along with WHO Permanent Representative Soe Nyunt-U and Minister of Health N.Udval.
At the beginning of the meeting, Dr Chan expressed her satisfaction with her visit to Mongolia and thanked the President for receiving her. She noted that, during her visit, she had met with the authorities of the Ministry of Health and got acquainted with the operations of the National Health Center for Mothers and Children as well as the Third Hospital. She also underlined the significance of using Mongolia's economic growth to improve the health of its population.
In return, President Ts.Elbegdorj was also satisfied with the cooperation between the WHO and the government of Mongolia. He said that the government has been successfully developing and implementing national programs adapted to the country's unique features, as well as supporting WHO policies and projects. For instance, Mongolia was one of the first countries to receive vaccines against the H1N1 influenza virus in 2009 in line with WHO conditions. He also mentioned that the government is following pertinent strategies to prevent people from acquiring diseases.
Dr Chan noted that even though Mongolia has a low population, the health of its people has been advancing together with the country's economic growth.
Mentioning that the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has become very effective in strengthening the control over tobacco smoking around the world, the President said that Mongolia adopted a law this year on fighting smoking, and that it has been highly appreciated by the public. Moreover, he gave information on Mongolians who are running campaigns against alcoholism and added that the government is planning to operate in the direction of working out a national convention to regulate the hazardous consumption of alcoholic beverages, which can be a way of creating a general understanding and agreement among WHO members. In accordance with these plans, the government wants to organize a nationwide session against alcohol with the participation of WHO experts.
Three years ago, there were 188 alcohol beverage manufacturers operating nationwide in Mongolia; while, as of today, this number has significantly declined. Along with the reduction of alcohol-producing entities, the level of alcohol consumption has also been reduced, stressed President Ts.Elbegdorj.
Doctors travels to Mongolia to educate other doctors in memory of a patient
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., August 17 (First Coast News) -- A 12-year-old boy loses his battle with Leukemia. But not before sharing one wish with his doctor.
Jonathan Soud loved to travel and next on his list of places to visit was Mongolia. He passed away in September of 2010, sending Doctor Eric Sandler to the country, in his place.
"Here we use disposable bone marrow needles," said Dr. Soud, Chief Hematology/Oncology doctor at Nemours Children's Clinic. "There they use these three needles that they've been using for the last 10 years now. They sterilize them each time. But what happens is they become very dull."
Dr. Sandler gave first Coast News an eye opening look into medical practices in Mongolia. It's a country that borders Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. A place many of us rarely think about. But Dr. Sandler will soon take trip from Jacksonville, Florida, to the capital of Ulaanbaatar. With medical tools in hand, and a staff of specialists to help educate. And it's all thanks to his former patient, Jonathan Soud.
"One day I was giving Jonathan chemotherapy, and I asked what he liked to do," said Dr. Sandler. "And he said he loves to travel. I asked where he would like to go and he said Mongolia."
It turns out Dr. Sandler had some connections there. And with the help of Jonathan's father, who set up a fund with the Wolfson Children's Hospital in his memory, the trip became a reality.
Dr. Sandler first took a trip to Mongolia back in July of 2012. This time around they're going with more doctors to help teach the latest practices for things like treating cancer and blood disorders in children.
"I hope and think he's proud that he was able to inspire all of this," said Dr. Sandler. "And I know it's important to his family too. That Jonathan keeps on living through these things that we do."
Dr. Sandler and his team will take off on a 25 hour flight Saturday, August 24th. They'll stay in Mongolia for two weeks.
He hopes to make this an annual trip to serve children there. If you would like to donate to help make more trips possible, call 904-202-2919.
Enkh Bayarsaikhan: "I will spread Korea's advanced medicinal skills across Mongolia"
August 15 (The Dong-A Ilbo) "I was able to adapt well to the new environment in Korea because all the professors taught me kindly and precisely even in minute details. As doctors here are allowed to remain in lab as long as they want, I stayed in labs all the time to study except for sleeping hours. As a result I had no chance to suffer from homesick."
Above is a remark by Enk Bayershaihan, 31, who is the first graduate of the Lee Gil-yeo Fellowship that provides full scholarship including living expenses of selected talents from developing countries for four years. She will start working at a national cancer center in Mongolia after graduation on August 21.
The fellowship was launched in 2008 marking the 50th anniversary of the Gacheon Gil Foundation by the wish of Chairman Lee Gil-yeo who received medical practice in the U.S. in the 1960s, when medical environment was very poor in Korea. The goal of the fellowship is to go beyond just practicing medical service in developing countries by nurturing medical staff in such countries.
Lee said, "I wanted to help talents in developing countries become world-class medical personnel. I thought this is what love for the country means and the way to contribute to health and happiness of humankind."
The foundation collected lists of talents from national medical centers in developing countries. Through a thorough examination, Enk was selected as the first beneficiary of the scholarship. Back then, she was a medical resident of the oncology department at the National Cancer Centre of Mongolia. She said, "In Mongolia, many cancer patients die because we don't have the technology to diagnose early stage cancers. I wanted to learn advanced medicine for cancer study abroad, but tuition and living cost were out of reach."
The Mongolian doctor has received yearly tuition of 10 million won (9,000 U.S. dollars), 1.3 million won (1,160 dollars) for monthly living cost and about 500 million won (447,000 dollars) for research materials. During her four-and-a-half year stay in Korea, she earned a master's degree and Ph.D. in molecular medicine at Gacheon Medical University. With the help of her advisor Lee Bong-hui, her name was included in six SCI-level theses as a co-researcher. Dr. Lee is the director of Genetic Proteome Center at the Lee Gil-yeo Research Labs for Cancer and Diabetes. Enk could also finish her graduation thesis based on the result of a collaborative study conducted with a fund amounting to 600 million won (536,000 dollars) received from the National Cancer Center of Korea.
Another advisor Byeon Gyeong-hui, a professor at Gacheon School of Medicine, said, "When Mongolian doctors visit Korea, they would call Enk to help them give a presentation at medical conferences. As Enk is a brilliant talent, she will become a prominent doctor in the Mongolian medical circle down the road."
"If I get a chance to teach medical students in my country, I will definitely tell them how advanced Korean medical technologies are. I wish more Mongolian students will get a chance to study in Korea," Enk said with a big smile.
Rolling stone: helping Mongolian families with a mobile kindergarten
August 14 (UNICEF) Six-year-old Erbenebayar, or 'Erka' for short, lives with a semi-nomadic herder family in the remote Khuvsgul province of Mongolia. They are based in a bagh (small district) around 20 kilometres from the nearest settlement, Tsagaan-Uur soum (village). There are no proper roads. Erka's parents have to look after their livestock and cannot take her to the soum centre every day. Luckily, there is a mobile kindergarten nearby that she can attend.
"I like coming to the kindergarten," Erka says. "I enjoy singing songs, playing with puzzle games and reading poems. My favourite poem is about a baby chicken and my favourite song is about getting an excellent mark at kindergarten. Yesterday I got an excellent mark for my drawing. My best friend is Namuun. She's the teacher's daughter."
The kindergarten is in a traditional Mongolian ger (tent), with a thick quilted lining and a carpet on the floor. Children's pictures are pinned to the wooden frame. Outside it is raining and heavy clouds blanket the hills. The ger is pitched in the middle of a wide, flat valley. Some children arrive on foot, with older brothers carrying them across a river. Others arrive with their parents on horseback, motorbike or tractor.
The ger was supplied to the soum by UNICEF Mongolia, fully equipped with toys, learning materials and furniture. It is run by Dolzodmaa, a teacher from the main kindergarten in the soum centre, who now spends the summer taking the ger around the baghs linked to the soum. Currently, 24 children attend the ger kindergarten.
The mobile ger kindergartens are a unique solution to the problem of providing education to a nomadic population. They function in rural areas from June to August and, where weather permits, from May to November. As well as providing early childhood education, they give children the opportunity to socialise with others. In Mongolia, herder families live spread out over a wide area and can be very isolated, particularly in the winter when the days shorten, temperatures plunge and heavy snow piles up outside. The gers also give teachers better access to parents, and allow the parents to go out and work, tending their livestock and preparing for the next winter.
"The facilities here are more basic than in the soum centre so we concentrate on teaching the children to interact and socialise," Dolzodmaa says. "This is their main opportunity to meet strangers, make friends and express themselves. Today we talked about weather in the summer season. The children learned a poem about a rainbow and made pictures of raindrops. There was a big thunderstorm last night and some of the children were scared, so it's helpful to talk about it."
Little house on the prairie
Erka faces a double disadvantage. As well living in a remote rural area, she is disabled. She contracted polio at just four months old and was left with a damaged right arm and leg and difficulties communicating. She was given up by her mother, a single parent who couldn't cope, and adopted by her current family.
The family live in a small log cabin further down the valley. This is their summer home, close to the pasture where their livestock graze. Although small, the house is clean, well-furnished and comfortable. There are many toys and books, and a stove where Erka's mother Oguuntsetseg is preparing noodles with dumplings and traditional Mongolian milk tea. Her father Ulziiochir comes in from working outside.
Erka's adoptive parents have 80 livestock, including horses, cows, sheep and goats. They sell milk, butter and meat at the local soum, as well as wool for cashmere products. Life can be hard. The family have just survived a particularly severe winter known as a 'dzud', with temperatures falling to minus 35 degrees. Luckily, her parents prepared well. They built a warm shelter for the animals and stored fodder for them. As a result, they only lost one cow.
Remote herders were also helped by solidarity from their distant neighbours. "During the winter, we asked for donations from families living in the soum centre," Governor Erdene-Bat explains. "We asked them for one day's salary, plus food, clothes and blankets for animals. We then gave these to families living further out. Over 1,300 animals died during the winter but it could have been worse. No people died."
Oguuntsetseg and Ulziiochir are clearly loving parents and very affectionate with Erka. "We had four boys of our own," her father says. "The first two passed away but the third and fourth survived and are now grown up. We wanted a girl and decided to adopt Erka. It happened that she had disabilities.
"We sold some of our animals to pay for her to have an operation in Ulaanbaatar. At first it was very difficult. When she came home she hurt all the time and we had to comfort her during the night. But after a week or so she started to get better. Now she can walk and run normally, and you can hardly tell her apart from other children."
Learning and playing
UNICEF is working with education authorities throughout Khuvsgul province. "We are supporting early childhood development in each soum, by training teachers and officials, providing toys and learning materials for kindergartens, and supplying mobile gers," Zoya Baduan, UNICEF community development officer for Khuvsgul, says.
"We also work with schools to renovate classrooms and provide alternative learning for out-of-school children and children with disabilities. We help schools develop emergency preparedness plans in case of harsh winters and look at water, sanitation and health in schools. This is part of our strategy to address inequality by targeting the most vulnerable children and communities."
Governor Erdene-Bat highlights the success of the programme in Tsagaan-Uur soum. "Parents here are very happy with the ger kindergartens," he comments. "It gives them time to rest and work, and the children a chance to learn. We know it's been successful because it's created demand. If a particular bagh area doesn't have a ger kindergarten, the parents come to us and ask for one."
For Erka, there's no doubt that the ger kindergarten has helped. Since coming for the first time this year, she has learned to talk. Before, she could understand her parents, but her own speech was slurred and unclear. Now, thanks to interacting with other children, she can speak clearly and easily.
In her home, Erka tells a story from 'Sleeping Beauty', her favourite book. "The Prince says 'I will kiss you' and then she wakes up," she says. "We try to encourage her by reading lots of books," her mother comments. "She used to be bad at speaking but since going to kindergarten she is very good."
Her father agrees. "The mobile ger kindergarten has helped us a lot," he says, smiling broadly. "Erka has learned to sing, dance and play. She doesn't cry or complain. When she comes home she says to me: 'Daddy please take me to kindergarten in the morning, but don't forget to pick me up in the afternoon'."
Andy Brown is Communication Consultant for UNICEF East Asia and Pacific
A wealthy, happy, or decent Mongolia?
By JERICK AGUILAR
August 17 (UB Post) I have lived in ten different countries and the mainstream definition of success is the same – wealth. In a typical family in a developing country, a son or daughter's success is measured by how much he or she earns. The higher the person's income, the more successful he or she is in the eyes of her parents. Some parents even compete with others as to their children's salaries. Their verbal exchanges can be something like, "Hey, my eldest is earning this much!" and "Mind you, my youngest child is earning much more than that!"
It is not just in developing countries where one does not have to brag about one's salary for other people to perceive success. All one needs to do is buy a fancy car and maybe hire a driver. In posh neighborhoods in developed countries, someone is considered more successful than his or her neighbor if the house he or she owns is much bigger, or his or her garden is better kept. And with this "success" almost automatically comes "respect."
"You put your intelligence to waste," is my uncle's way of reminding me how naive I was (and still am) to have left a promising career in a multinational company in the Philippines for a teaching job in a university. With my eyes wide open, I said goodbye to the company car and accepted a huge salary cut to work as an Economics instructor. He probably thought (and still thinks) that I consistently make stupid decisions because I did something similar while I was in the US. I resigned from a high-paying job in a global investment firm to pursue higher studies in the UK. Without blinking, I went back to becoming a student and earning virtually nothing.
Whenever someone has found a job, the first question asked by people most of the time is how much the salary is. They give him a thumbs up if he or she earns more than the average, and everybody is happy for his or her "success." The same thing goes for someone who has been recently promoted. Everybody is interested to know how much the salary increase is and what the additional perks are.
In most of the countries where I have taught, I always ask my students why they decided to spend time and money to learn the English language. Most of them would specifically say that they want to have a better job with a higher salary after their English improves. Some would answer that they want to study in an English-speaking country – and then return to their countries to have a better job with a higher salary. And some would answer in general that English is a tool for them to be rich. Then they would return the question and ask me, "Who doesn't want to be rich?"
In my ideal world, I wish people would rather ask a new recruit if this is the job that he or she really wants. It would also be better if people would find out if the person likes the new job and whether or not this would mean more work and less time for himself or herself and others. I believe that "success" is personal and its true measure is individual happiness.
I've met people who are not happy with their jobs and, given the opportunity, would have switched to another job, but are sticking to it because of how much they are earning and the benefits they are getting. I have been in the same boat at least twice. In these two instances, I still had doubts and hesitations even after I had submitted my letters of resignation.
I have traveled to many countries and the conventional definition of development is the same – wealth. Almost everywhere, a country's development is measured by its national income. All governments have macroeconomic targets and global financial institutions such as the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund regularly forecast economic growth. In fact, the prevailing classification of countries (as per WB statistics) as either "developed" or "developing" is based on a country's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.
As of 2012, Mongolia ranks 113th in a database of 189 economies with a GDP per capita of 3,673 USD (FYI, Monaco is No. 1 with 163,026 USD and Burundi is last with 251 USD). With the current exchange rate, this means that, on average, a Mongolian earns only 480,161 MNT a month. I have been lucky enough to visit several cities in different continents where their figures are at least 10 times higher than Mongolia's. So I am not surprised to see the difference between the quality of life there and here. But I was shocked to still see a number of homeless people and beggars in these wealthy cities and countries.
In Paris, France, for example, I visited a friend who lives in the exclusive 7th arrondissement only to discover that he was living in an attic eight flights up in a building without an elevator. Its floor area is literally the size of an average bathroom in a typical Mongolian flat and it neither has a shower nor a toilet. In Dubai, UAE, I was invited to a medium-sized apartment for four but with 16 people crammed in it. Despite its seven-star hotel, the Palm Islands and the World, as well as the world's tallest building, there are still people living there like they were in a "developing" country.
Success and development. It is, for me, a travesty that wealth is the measure of a person's success and a country's development. Money is important but it should not be "that" important in one's life. Economic expansion is necessary but it should also be essential that this growth trickle down to the majority of the population (in developing countries) and to the minority (in developed ones). Maybe I am too idealistic, but I do not mind being in a country where I am happy with my job and where everybody is living decently.
Mongolia is one such place. Here, there is a construction boom but there is no race to build the tallest structure in the city. When it comes to comparing salaries, some people ask others only out of curiosity and not to feel better or worse. Teaching makes me happy, and whenever I ask my Mongolian students whether they choose to have a boring job with a higher salary or an interesting one with lower pay, most of them prefer the latter. There is poverty in the country, but it is not everywhere and most of the people still have the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter. Mongolia may not be a wealthy country by WB standards, but I can say that its people are generally living happily and decently.
Mass volleyball making its mark in Mongolia
Ulan Bator, Mongolia, August 16, 2013 (FIVB) – A Volley All Festival was held in Mongolia at the Yanzag Youth Camp, 30 km away from the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. This was the first time that the Mongolian Volleyball Association (MVA) has taken part in the event.
A total of 900 young players joined the competition, which included 109 girls' teams and 109 boys' teams coming from different provinces and districts around the country. Many private TV channels were on hand to publicise the festival and local sponsors lent their support to the event.
The festival, which took place on June 16, was also an occasion to celebrate the achievement of judoka Nyam-Ochir, who won a bronze medal for the country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Mogi: nicely written
Snow in Mongolia
By Shebana Coelho
August 14 (When I phone Amaglan in Mongolia, the first thing I want to tell her is that it's snowing here in the U.S. But I can't find the words for it. This shocks me. I sit there, holding the phone, watching the snow falling onto a triangle of lawn at my parents' house in suburban New Jersey. I listen to the cadence of Amaglan speaking in Mongolian, carefully enunciating words as language teachers do, as she did when she taught me.
The snow is falling thick and fast, I want to say. But I can't.
Instead, I say other things. I say Happy New Year and she says the same; she says it's freezing cold all over Mongolia, especially in UB. But a few weeks ago, it was warm enough that she got together with some of the other teachers at that place near her house, that café where they have the good tea, do I remember.
Yes, I say. I do.
Really, she laughs, you really remember after all these years, that one café we went to once?
It's only been five years since I left, I say.
Long enough to forget, she says.
Actually, it's the opposite, I say. It's long enough to remember. She hears the defensiveness in my voice. She changes the subject. We continue talking. The snow keeps falling. I mourn those missing words.
In 2007, when I first get to Mongolia, it is New Year. The Year of the Pig. I've arranged to live with a city family before heading off into the countryside. The city family lives in UB or, as no one ever calls it, the capital, Ulaanbaatar. The city is crowded with blocks of old apartment buildings, Cyrillic signage, new skyscrapers, and fashionable restaurants, which reflect Mongolia's past as a Soviet satellite state and its present as a capitalist democracy.
Now, years later, I am on the phone with Amaglan, thinking about all I stand to lose by forgetting. I am reeling from those words I have lost and how she was the one who helped me to find them in the first place.
When we met, she had no English except for hello and I had no Mongolian except for the Mongolian version of hello, sain baina uu. But she mimed, pointed, gestured and taught me my first words of Mongolian. My first class, she walked into the room where I sat waiting – and walked right out. Then she walked in again, saying what I later understood was "I am walking": bi yavaj baina. She sat, saying bi bosoj baina: "I am sitting." She smiled widely, bi ineej baina; she shook her hips, bi bujiglig baina: "I am dancing." Every class became a game. With the help of other teachers at the language school where she worked, I got to phrases and sentences and tenses.
Inexplicably, rapidly, I took to it. It baffled me. I have some Hindi, and I studied French in school but, for goodness sake, this is an Altaic-Turkic language written in a Cyrillic script. I hadn't heard anything like it before.
Except for a few weeks in the spring, I traveled everywhere without a translator. In between trips to the countryside, I came back to the city, took lessons with Amaglan and other teachers, and fortified by more phrases, more grammar, I went back out. Often I was utterly lost, but I absorbed what I could, when I could, in increments. What I didn't understand in April, I understood in June. And even though it was gradual, the shock of comprehending was tremendous.
Suddenly I could talk to Norov, my Mongolian mother, without Onika having to translate; suddenly, we were speaking to each other. Some afternoons, we would sit in the kitchen and have suu-tei tsai, a milky tea with salt, and talk. Bor ohin min, she would start, my dark daughter, and ask me questions like how did the day go, when was I going next to the hoodoo – the countryside – what did I think of Mongolian men, what did I remember about India, was Bombay like UB?
There were times I forgot we were talking in Mongolian. It was like that feeling you get when you're reading a good book and the world it describes is so vivid that you forget you're accessing it by reading. You forget what separates you.
Mongolia changed everything – how I live, how I see the world, how I see myself. When you travel, you tend to cultivate a persona different from that of your everyday life. You're open to everything and you take better care of yourself emotionally. Because you know you're out of your comfort zone, away from home, you work on letting go of whatever you can so that you can move with ease.
At different points during my time in Mongolia, I remember thinking: one, what if I lived with the same persona I traveled with, and two, if I could manage here by planning only one step ahead instead of ten, instead of trying to see the whole road – well, couldn't I manage my life like that too?
And that's really what I've done since Mongolia – followed what calls. It's led me to New Mexico, where I now live, and into a period of writing and directing creative projects in theater, poetry, fiction, that I would never have imagined for myself and that only came about because I was able to let go and fully follow what moves me. This has felt like a revolution. For me, it is.
But.just when I have processed my experience in Mongolia and realized how it has reverberated, the language that found me so quickly is beginning, in bits and starts, to leave. Everyday I find it easier to write about Mongolia; everyday, I have to work at remembering Mongolian.
It makes me think that perhaps, my facility with the language had less to do with having a "good ear" and more to do with being so open: without buffers, so that everything around me in Mongolia came right on in. Did I go there without buffers or did the buffers disappear when I arrived? Is it the place that opens the traveler or the traveler who opens because she is traveling to that place?
I know there are ways to compensate for losing language: practice more, study more. And I know loss of words does not have to equal loss of memories. Except for me, they're connected. Those moments where people offered up something true and unguarded were in a language common to them, rare to me.
What to do? I write. I share what I can, while it is vivid. I write to honor the generosity with which people made themselves known to me. In re-telling their stories, I feel I'm continuing a process in which our connections expand, the world contracts, and far away becomes close.
Well, ok, then, Amaglan is saying, you stay well. Happy New Year again.
I hesitate, looking at the snow, mourning my lost words. And then it comes to me. Tsas orj baina, I yell. I point to the falling snow as if she can see it. Tsas orj baina.
Here too, she says. I can almost see her smile. It's snowing here too.
About Shebana Coelho
Shebana Coelho is writer, director and filmmaker. She received a 2007 Fulbright grant to Mongolia to experience and record life in nomadic communities. Her website is shebanacoelho.com. Read her full bio here.
Love at First Sight (of Paved Road): Adventures in Mongol Rally Land, Episode 5
August 16 (Huffington Post) The "little car that could" has transported Steve and me across nearly 10,000 miles in the Mongol Rally. But in episode five of Adventures in Mongol Rally Land, the car that has taken us from London to Mongolia begins to overheat in the Gobi Desert. Steven summons some good luck by mounting the head of a dead animal on the hood, and the car starts to work again. Not only do we cross the desert, but we're able to help a local Mongolian family experiencing their own car trouble.
We drive across a bridge literally falling to pieces, and then cross a dry gulch that should have a bridge but doesn't. Upon surviving these ordeals, I have a nearly perverse love affair with the first paved road we come to.
"My Mongolia: The Paintings Of American Artist Susan Fox"- The Opening Ceremony
August 15 (Susan Fox) I've been interested in what it's like to do an exhibition opening in Mongolia as opposed to in the USA. I like the way it's done here.
With crews from two Ulaanbaatar tv stations filming it (I did at least five interviews during the evening), the opening ceremony began with Erdmaa Davgaa, who was my contact person at the National Museum of Mongolia, giving a short introduction. Then I said a few remarks, pausing every few sentences for her to translate. Gaadan Dunburee, who I met last year, is one of the WildArt Mongolia Expedition Mongol artist participants and is a highly honored artist in Mongolia, also spoke about me and my work. Finally, there was a one-song performance by a long singer and morin khuur player. The doors to the hall were then opened and the reception was officially under way.
K-Pop stars to come to Mongolia
August 15 (UB Post) The "T-ara," "Davichi," "SeeYa," and "Speed" bands which are part of the "Core Contest Media" entertainment of the Republic of Korea will come to Mongolia by invitation of the ETV HD channel. They will give a concert in Central Stadium on September 21. Tickets cost 35, 50, and 150 thousand MNT.
The girl group "T-ara" was formed in 2009, releasing their first song "Good Person" which is included in the soundtrack of the Korean drama "Cinderella Man." They were previously called "Super Rookies." The original five group members (Jiyeon, Hyomin, Jiwon, Jiae, and Eunjung) were trained together for three years under Mnet Media. The girl group then added three more members (Boram, Qri, and Soyeon). Boram is a daughter of famous guitarist, rock star Jeon Youngruk and well-known actress Lee Mi Young. Their first debut album "Absolute First" achieved great success, was ranked number four on the Gaon Chart, and received the award of Best Korean Girl Group. They are getting attention from people because of their film-like music videos. The music video of "Cry Cry" from their third album "Black Eyes" was seen one million times within 30 minutes on YouTube. Their "Poly Poly" single sold two million copies. They always change their group leader in order to give everybody the chance to become one.
Recently, one of the oldest members of the group "Areum" announced that she would leave the band to pursue a solo career. Moreover, another member of the group "Ryu Hwa-young" also made the decision to leave, shocking their fans. From that time on, rumors of her experiencing severe bullying by other members of "T-ara" surfaced through the web and media with factual photos and videos. This band then became most hated group in Korea. But "T-ara" didn't stop singing and kept on releasing their songs. They performed in the "Asian World Expo Arena" with world stars including Lady Gaga and Maroon 5.
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