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Monday, May 19, 2014
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Xanadu Mines shareholders approve Kharmagtai acquisition from Turquoise Hill
May 16 (Proactive Investors) Xanadu Mines (ASX: XAM) is proceeding with the acquisition of a 90% interest in the Kharmagtai advanced porphyry copper-gold exploration project in Mongolia for US$14 million from Turquoise Hill Resources.
First phase diamond drilling is scheduled to begin in early June.
This follows the company's shareholders approving the transaction at the Extraordinary General Meeting held today.
Previous exploration at Kharmagtai had identified significant shallow high-grade porphyry copper-gold mineralisation, including 245 metres at 0.75% copper and 2.48g/t gold from 3 metres.
Xanadu has estimated an Exploration Target of 200 million to 450 million tonnes at 0.25% to 0.3% copper and 0.25 grams per tonne to 0.3g/t gold.
MNGGF closed +0.09% to US$2.18, YAK closed flat at C$2.38
Mongolia Growth Group - All Structures In Place For A Good Run
May 16 (Christensen Capital, LLC via Seeking Alpha) --
· MNGGF (a real estate company) has hired a new CEO, Paul Byrne, who is a seasoned commercial real estate professional with excellent international experience.
· Mongolia is a $10 billion dollar economy sitting on $2 trillion in natural resources.
· The vast majority of financial activity takes place in the capital, Ulan Bator. MNGGF's real estate holdings are located near the downtown core of the capital city.
· Mongolia is the fastest growing country in the world. Mongolia's average real GDP growth is projected to be 13.4% annually over the coming five years due to mining initiatives.
· All the pieces are now in place to make this a long term holding. In my opinion, this is the only liquid and transparent vehicle to invest within Mongolia.
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (OTCPK:MNGGF, TSXV:YAK) operates as a real estate investment and development company. The company is engaged in the ownership of retail, office, and redevelopment investment properties; management of investment properties; and construction, development, and repair of investment properties primarily in the Downtown and the Central Business District of Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
Note: The stock symbol is MNGGF. The company, in its documents, uses the abbreviation MGG to refer to itself. The rest of the article uses MGG instead of the stock symbol.
Why Mongolia? Why now? This is one of very few countries left on earth that has the ability to launch themselves rapidly into the 21st century. Before a country can progress, it needs certain ingredients: an entrepreneurial culture, political stability, an element of democracy, economic stability, property ownership laws, and law and order. In addition, there has to be an untapped resource (either labor or natural resources) that will draw in capital and elevate the standard of living. Mongolia has met these conditions.
As a second source of evidence as to why Mongolia has met these conditions I point to the KFC indicator. If YUM! Brands (YUM) is opening new restaurants in a country, then the basic ingredients exist for capitalism and investment. YUM! Brands, owners of KFC, know a little something about opening restaurants in foreign lands. KFC now has 4,600 KFC restaurants in China and is the number one brand there. In addition to India and many other countries, KFCs is now opening in several African countries. KFC entered Mongolia in 2013 and plans to open 15 restaurants in the next few years. It took KFC only 18 months from conception to opening the first KFC there. Mongolia is open for business.
Why Mongolia Growth Group (MGG)? Harris Kupperman (currently the chairman) founded MGG and brought the company public in 2011. Harris, who was a hedge fund manager at the time, has now learned the ropes in Mongolia. MGG has retail space, commercial space and land in the capital, Ulan Bator. MGG has gained all the skill-sets to grow with this expanding economy. In addition, the total value of all real estate is not big enough to move the needle of a large real estate company. MGG is the perfect size to benefit and attract little or no competition from the big outfits.
Over the last several years, Harris has acquired real estate assets under the single umbrella of MGG in different stages of development and a talented real estate team for acquisition, leasing and property management (collectively the business structure). He has hired Mongolians with western education and experience. Harris wants to maximize the value of structure. Early this year he made contact with Paul Byrne and hired him as an advisor to MGG. Harris liked Paul's ideas for optimizing the structure and hired Paul as CEO. Paul's experience included: California real estate, development around the Hong Kong International airport, New York Port Authority and work on redevelopment of the World Trade Center area following 9/11, and CEO of a $6 billion dollar real estate firm in Dubai. Paul was looking for a new challenge in a dynamic economy and found that in Mongolia.
The catalyst for owning MGG (besides owning real estate in the fastest growing country in the world) is this: MGG is now aligning its structure to match investors' demand. For example, if an investor wanted to invest in a REIT in Mongolia, MGG in its current form has too many moving parts for that type of investor. MGG is in the process of developing an in-house REIT. MGG will populate this REIT from the portion of its real estate holdings that have been stabilized. MGG will also form a private equity firm for those interested in development. The plan is to develop property, then sell it to the REIT. MGG would then retain a percentage of interest and get paid a fee for management of the REIT. In my opinion, MGG's structure would also support a joint venture with a large investor that wanted to establish investments in this dynamic economy.
To start a reader on their due diligence path, I want to touch on list of interesting conditions in Mongolia. 1990 was a watershed year for Mongolia. That was the year they broke free from Soviet rule and towards a true democracy. The next watershed year was 2009 as the Government of Mongolia repealed the windfall profits tax and struck a deal with Rio Tinto to open one of the largest copper mines on earth, i.e. Oyu Tolgoi or Turquoise Hill. Mongolia has a robust two-party system with a fair amount of freedom of press. Politicians have gone to jail for corruption. Car insurance wasn't required by law until recently. The President of Mongolia's hero is Ronald Reagan (Reagan's speech calling the Soviet Union an evil empire helped inspire democracy in Mongolia). Ulan Bator is more like a city state in a country that is over 2x the size of Texas. The Texas economy is over 100x larger. About half of the populations of Mongolia (2.8 million people) live in the capital, Ulan Bator. Sixty per cent of that population still live in gers, i.e. the animal skin round tents. Heat for the downtown buildings is piped in from waste heat from an electrical power plant. The society is quite homogeneous. The national pastimes are horseback riding, archery and wrestling. There are plenty of clips about Mongolia and the copper mine Oyu Tolgoi on YouTube. CharlieRose.com did a very interesting interview with the then Prime Minister on 9/28/2010. This interview was started me on a path to an investment in Mongolia.
An investor shouldn't get too worked up during election time. The political rhetoric is not that much different than here in the US. Wasn't it during our last Presidential election cycle that we were going to punish China? Politicians say populist things, but underneath nearly all Mongolian politicians have an interest in the mining industry. You can bet in the end, regardless of the political winds, these resources are coming out of the ground over the coming years.
There are massive infrastructure projects (roads, rail, power plants, coal gasification) planned or in progress in the country to get these resources to market.
It is very difficult to get up-to-date information in English on infrastructure projects from official government websites. The last document available that I could find from the Mongolian Ministry of Roads, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development listed infrastructure projects for the years 2010-2016 at $35 billion USD. There have been numerous other projects announced since then. MGG puts the estimate at $56 billion for infrastructure and major industrial projects. Note: $56 billion is over 5x the current size of the economy!
Currently, the book value of MGG is $1.20 per share (audited financials 12/31/2013, $0.92 USD to Can $). As of this writing, the stock is selling just under at 2x stated book ($2.21 per share). The $1.20 understates both the liquidation value and the long term intrinsic value of the company. For one, it would take several years to replace the team of professionals and experience that MGG has in the local real estate market. In addition, there is value in the relationships that the company has established with banks and other real estate professionals in the capital. In my opinion, the stated book value of their real estate is undervalued due to the difficulty finding like properties for the appraisers to use, thus, the value of the land is stated at original cost. Their financials show the value of their land holding or re-development property dropping 23% in 2013. I suspect the value actually rose a double digit amount. This is based on a third party source who estimated land values went up 30% in 2013. Source: http://mad-research.com/ulaanbaatar-real-estate/land-market/land-prices/. Here is their projection for 2013 and historical value of Ulan Bator land prices.
1. MGG is realigning the business structure to better fit investor demand.
2. The hiring of a seasoned CEO with international experience in real estate.
3. MGG is the only liquid and fully audited independent investment available in Mongolia. I don't consider TRQ an independent company, RIO owns 51%
4. This is the fastest growing economy in the world
5. The Chairman and CEO's compensation, in large part , based on options
6. Current per capita income is at $5,500 in Mongolia. This is likely to grow double digit for the next decade.
7. In Mongolia bank loans cost 12-15%, if you can get them. I believe that MGG, with their public structure, can find outside sources of capital that their competitors can't. If MGG can find a cheaper source of capital, their competitive advantage will multiply.
8. MGG's holds real estate in the core of downtown Ulan Bator. Space is limited due to only one main through street east and west, and to the north and south bounded by mountains. Real estate will continue to sell at a premium in the core downtown.
I should also mention that the value of the Mongolian Currency has been weak of late. In my opinion, over the longer term this won't be a problem to a long-term investor.
I can't think of another company that is this transparent. MGG puts out a monthly newsletter discussing recent developments at: http://mongoliagrowthgroup.com/investors/monthly-shareholder-letters/. I believe the stock should sell at a premium to book value. In 2011, the stock sold for 4x book value. Currently, it sells for 2x understated book value and in my opinion the value of the company has gone up and the future strategy of the company is clearer.
I have met both Harris Kupperman and Paul Byrne. They are long-term sharp investors and are doing the right things to create value over the next 3-5 years.
Editor's Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.
Additional disclosure: I own MNGGF for the hedge fund I manage. I have been accumulating this stock. I have no current plans to trade the stock.
MSE Weekly Review, May 12-16: Top 20 +0.55%, Turnover ₮123.8 Million
Ulaanbaatar, May 18 /MONTSAME/ Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange May 12-16, 2014.
In overall, 95 thousand and 761 shares were sold of 51 joint-stock companies totaling MNT 123 million 818 thousand and 627.07.
"Merex" /29 thousand and 849 units/, "Mongolia Development" /15 thousand and 465 units/, "Bayanbogd" /12 thousand and 918 units/, "Hermes center" /6,210 units/ and "Silikat" /4,620 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Tavantolgoi" (MNT 22 million 481 thousand and 095), "Bayangol hotel" (MNT 17 million and 090 thousand), "UB hotel" /MNT 11 million and 769 thousand/, "Mongolia Development" /MNT 10 million 771 thousand and 990/ and "Gutal" (MNT 10 million 302 thousand and 200).
MSE News for May 16: Top 20 -0.47%, Turnover ₮8.3 Million
Ulaanbaatar, May 16 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Friday, a total of 13 thousand and 282 shares of 17 JSCs were traded costing MNT eight million 324 thousand and 912.32.
"Merex" /9,449 units/, "Moninjbar" /1,500 units/, "Mongolia Development" /800 units/, "Khishig uul" /500 units/ and "Eermel" /413 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"UB-BUK" (MNT three million 056 thousand and 800), "Merex" (MNT one million 058 thousand and 640), "Eermel" (MNT 881 thousand and 460), "APU" (MNT 840 thousand and 800) and "Khishig uul" (MNT 600 thousand and 4500).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 591 billion 452 million 508 thousand and 043. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,498.41, decreasing by MNT 73.47 or 0.47% against the previous day.
Mongolia's HBOil Opens Pyongyang Unit to Tap N. Korea Oil
By Michael Kohn
May 16 (Bloomberg) -- HBOil (L) Berhad, a subsidiary of Ulaanbaatar-based oil recycling company HBOil JSC, has opened an office in Pyongyang, according to a statement emailed by Purevbaatar Bayarsaikhan, HBOil JSC Chairman
* Co.'s Pyongyang office has started operations with local JV partner Korea Oil Exploration Corp.: statement
* JV will initially focus on exploration for hydrocarbons onshore in N. Korea: statement
(Bloomberg First Word)
FMG Mongolia Fund: Unchanged in April, -6.85% Year to Date
The FMG Mongolia Fund mainly invests in domestically listed Mongolian companies traded on the Mongolian Stock Exchange (MSE), as well as offshore traded Mongolian securities.
The Fund focuses on investing in the most liquid stocks traded in local currency on the MSE. The portfolio will be diversified utilizing complementary investment strategies across multiple industrial sectors.
Fundamental analysis and a disciplined portfolio management process will ensure risk is managed soundly. Our due diligence process has taken us to the region repeatedly over the years. We will continue focusing significant research efforts in this area of the world which we believe has such immense growth opportunities.
BoM MNT Rates: Friday, May 16 Close
May MNT Chart:
Mogi: hmmm, who's he trying to fool
'Deprecation of tugrug is seasonal,' says Mongol Bank governor
Source: Undesnii Shuudan
May 15 (BCM) Mongolia is currently suffering from a seasonal depreciation of the tugrug, said the head of the central bank, which is exacerbating weakness of what Bloomberg has reported as Asia's poorest performing currency.
"Sixty percent of the U.S. dollars used in Mongolia is in the spring season," said Bank of Mongolia Governor Naidansuren Zoljargal. "On the other hand, U.S. dollar inflow is in the second half of the year."
He said revenue from cashmere typically appears about now, in May and June. Also, income from coal sales is about USD 100 million less than last year because of the soft coal market. He said he expected gold revenue to grow further following the government's USD 400 million in financing for the development of gold-mining operations. Despite the poor performance of the tugrug, the foreign trade balance is improving, said Zoljargal. The Q1 foreign trade deficit is USD 9 million this year compared with USD 400 million last year.
Political risk stands to rock the economy further, he warned. He advised that government concentrate on increasing exports and attracting foreign investment instead of short-term interventionist strategies such as government lending to local producers to maintain stable prices.
Mongolia Government to Reintroduce Revised Law on Petroleum After Initial Bill Fails in Parliament
May 18 (Cover Mongolia) Regular cabinet meeting held on Saturday, May 17 agreed to reintroduce the draft revised law on petroleum after initial bill failed to get enough votes on Thursday. The new bill will reflect the comments of parliament members.
Draft bill on petroleum law amendment fails to pass in Parliament
May 16 (news.mn) Thursday`s plenary session meeting of Parliament settled the final discussion on a new revision into the Petroleum law of Mongolia, the Petroleum law manual, and other amendment bills. However, the new revision into the Petroleum law of Mongolia was not passed as 50 percent of MPs who attended rejected it, claiming the revision did not need to be passed.
The Petroleum draft bill was also not passed due to poor attendance of MPs in the plenary session meeting. At the plenary session meeting most members of MPRP-MNDP Justice coalition were absent, in particular the cabinet ministers of the ruling party and MPs.
The new revision to the law details that a stability agreement would be effective when a production-sharing agreement is signed. The Government, as the owner of the mineral resources, and a foreign oil company, as a contractor to provide technical and financial services for exploration and development operations, would share 50-50 percent of the profit of the production. It also states that after the cost recovery, the government would acquire 60 percent of the stipulated share.
Ministry of Mining Hosts Open Day, Showcases Erdenet Mining Corp.
May 16 (infomongolia.com) In the frameworks of introducing and promoting the geology, mining and crude oil sectors' operation, the Ministry of Mining of Mongolia is hosting its Open Day at Chinggis Square, Ulaanbaatar on May 17, 2014.
During the Day, representatives from Russia-Mongolia joint venture of "Erdenet" Mining Corporation will be participating and introducing its activity themed "We Are Miners of Century" in Ulaanbaatar from 11:00 am at the Square. Also, at 03:00 pm a photo exhibition "Historical Timelines of Erdenet Factory" will be displayed in the Central Cultural Palace, followed by a concert at 04:00 pm.
About Erdenet Mining Corporation
Mongolian-Russian Erdenet Mining Corporation is one of the biggest Ore mining and Ore processing factory in Asia. Erdenet Mining Corporation (EMC or Erdenet) was established in accordance with an agreement between Governments of Mongolia and (former) Soviet Union. It started its operation in 1978.
At present it is a fairly large complex processing 26 million tons of ore per year and producing around 530.0 thousand tons of copper concentrate and around 4.5 thousand tons of molybdenum concentrates annually.
EMC has established promising collaborations with leading mining experts from Phelps Dodge, Inc.; Outokumpu Oyj, Finland; Bateman Engineering Ltd., Australia; Pacific Ore Technology Ltd., Australia; Brook Hunt & Associates Ltd., UK; KDEngineering, USA; Samsung Corp., South Korea and the world's other mining leaders.
Database of All Mineral Licenses in Mongolia
-- Mineral Cadastre Office of the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia --
Mongolia Invites Russia to Co-Implement Projects on Railways, Roads, Gas & Pipelines, Power Lines
May 16 (infomongolia.com) On May 13, 2014, Deputy Minister for Economic Development of Mongolia, Mr. Ochirbat CHULUUNBAT met with his counterpart of the Russian Federation Mr. Aleksey Evgenievich Likhachev in Moscow to exchange views of bilateral cooperation and relations in economic sector.
During the meeting Deputy Minister O.Chuluunbat expressed Mongolia's interest introducing and inviting Russian part to co-implement some projects on constructing railways, auto roads, gas pipelines, power lines and oil pipelines via Mongolian territory.
In response, Deputy Minister for Economic Development of the Russian Federation, A.E.Likhachev stated that if the solutions would be resolved at Governmental-level and if projects' estimation would be beneficial, Russia is ready to cooperate with Mongolia on above tasks, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia.
Investor Rights Group advocates against taking cash instead of Erdenes TT shares
May 15 (BCM) An investors' rights group is urging 1.2 million Mongolian citizens to reconsider their decision to accept cash in lieu of shares of state-owned miner Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi LLC.
"We urge people to get the shares," said A. Altanshagai, the head of a group to stand for shareholders' rights for the project. "We are ready to assist them with needed information and advice."
One million people have requested shares of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi compared with 1.5 million requesting in-lieu cash. The government has delivered MNT 300,000 to 300,000 senior and disabled citizens. Already the value of that MNT 300,000 has already lessened, said the group. The remainder who requested cash will be able to take their funds after Erdenes TT makes a public offering.
American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia Selects New Director of Development
AmCham Mongolia Continues to Develop and Reinforce its Commitment to Strengthening Commercial Ties Between the United States and Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, May 14 (AmCham Mongolia) - The Board of Directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia, or "AmCham Mongolia," is very pleased to announce that Mrs. Tricia Turbold has joined the organization as its Director of Development. Tricia moved to Mongolia from the United States two years ago where she worked in Operations Management at a world-class healthcare facility, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Tricia studied law Radford University in the United States and holds a Master of Science degree in Corporate and Professional Communication.
"I am delighted to be joining AmCham Mongolia as Director of Development. I find the vision and energy of the organization to be very inspiring and encouraging. I look forward to helping AmCham Mongolia achieve its goals of building and strengthening business relationships between the United States and Mongolia," said Tricia.
Mr. Jackson Cox, Chairman of the AmCham Mongolia Board of Directors also commented, "the decision by the AmCham Mongolia Board of Directors to bring Tricia onboard as Director of Development represents our strong commitment to develop AmCham Mongolia into a meaningful and impactful organization. We work each and every day for our members to strengthen commercial partnerships between the United States and Mongolia. We are pleased that Tricia has joined us and expect her unique talents to play a big role in advancing AmCham's mission in Mongolia."
About AmCham Mongolia
AmCham Mongolia is an independent membership-driven organization that seeks to build, strengthen, and protect business between the United States and Mongolia and to actively promote Mongolia as a destination for American investment. AmCham Mongolia is the official local office of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Based in Washington, DC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the largest business federation in the world with over 3 million member companies. American Chambers have been established in over 100 countries in the world – Mongolia being one of the most recent.
Globo's Telenovela "Tangled Hearts" Gets Picked Up in Mongolia
SÃO PAULO, May 14 (World Screen) Globo's telenovela Tangled Hearts is slated to debut in Mongolia this summer.
That country's Edutainment TV will air the show in June, broadcasting in voiceover in Mongolian. The comedic novela tells the story of six young people in São Paulo from different worlds and with different personalities who seek love and happiness.
This is the network's second Globo pickup, having previously licensed Brazil Avenue. The novela has already been sold into three other countries.
Alleged alien abductee chess federation Pres. running for re-election
May 16 (Open Minds Magazine) The long-standing president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) is running for re-election. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who has led FIDE for eighteen years, registered earlier this week, making his entrance in the election official. But his opponent, former world champion Garry Kasparov, is determined to defeat the sitting president because he feels public comments about extraterrestrials made by Ilyumzhinov, who claims to be an alien abductee, are negatively affecting the federation.
Ilyumzhinov, who is a former president of the Russian republic of Kalmykia, has been outspoken about his interactions with extraterrestrials. In 2010, he publicly claimed to have met with extraterrestrials in Moscow, where he communicated with them, was shown around their spaceship, and was even taken into space. Ilyumzhinov asserts that he has been taken by extraterrestrials on multiple occasions, and he has spoken publicly about it for more than a decade. And it's because of this that Kasparov thinks Ilyumzhinov is ill-suited to run FIDE. In fact, Kasparov has plainly stated that he believes Ilyumzhinov's extraterrestrial comments are a "disaster for the organisation." He also believes that Ilyumzhinov's extraterrestrial opinions are preventing FIDE from growing. The Guardian explains that he believes "no western sponsor will ever be with someone who talks about aliens."
In addition to his claims of personal contact with extraterrestrials, Ilyumzhinov believes that humans are a product of extraterrestrial intervention. And, he asserts that chess was given to humans by these extraterrestrials. In 2006, he told the Guardian, "My theory is that chess comes from space. Why? Because the same rules, 64 squares black and white and same rules in Japan, in China, in Qatar, in Mongolia, in Africa. The rules are the same. Why? I think it seems maybe it is from space." And he believes his mission in life is to bring peace to the world through chess.
The victor of the FIDE presidential election will be decided in August at the World Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, Norway.
Two Railbuses Received Today, to Be Put into Service from June 6
May 16 (infomongolia.com) At the initiation of the Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul, the Municipality Administration in collaboration of "Ulaanbaatar Railway" joint venture have been implementing to introduce a new type of public transportation namely "Railbus".
So, the first two "Railbus" PA-2 series high-speed trains were received today, May 16, 2014, by authorities of Ulaanbaatar Railway. The railbuses are manufactured by Russian "TransMash" Holding and will be put into service from Amgalan to Tolgoit platforms from June 06, 2014 as premised.
$190 Million Budgeted for 17 Road Construction Works in Ulaanbaatar This Year
Ulaanbaatar, May 16 (MONTSAME) In frames of the project called "Street" being carried out by the Ministry of Economic Development, a total of 17 construction works are planned to run in UB city within this year.
Approved work list includes totaling 21.09 kms road extension and reconstruction in 17 areas, and 479 meters bridge construction.
Furthermore, re-planning of ger/national dwelling/ area, its infrastructure and 59kms two highways works are expected to commence in this year as well.
Project leader B.Batbold said that a sum of 190 million USD has been allotted for this year in frames of the project.
As of March, this project received totaling 50.6 billion MNT finance from the Development Bank and some 43.6 billion MNT has been spent on construction works.
Track and Field Stadium to Be Built in Ulaanbaatar's Remote Nalaikh District
Ulaanbaatar, May 16 (MONTSAME) Under a relevant resolution issued by E.Bat-Uul, the City Mayor, 400 meters international model stadium for track and field athletics is to be erected in Nalaikh, one of UB city's three remote districts.
Some 500 million required will be allotted from the City Mayor's fund and rest 1.2 billion togrog will be financed by the International Association of Athletics Federations /IAAF/.
An Italian "Mondo" company will execute blueprint and construction works and the building is expected to allow sportsmen to train and to run short trek, hockey, speed skating and figure skating events in winter.
The City Mayor E.Bat-Uul obliged related departments to put control on the process of the construction.
Two Inner Mongolian Exiles Deported by Mongolia to China
May 16 (Radio Free Asia) Mongolia has repatriated two exiles from neighboring China's restive Inner Mongolia region after they planned to join public calls against the deportation of a fellow exile who is a prominent anti-China dissident, a U.S.-based rights group said Friday.
Dalaibaatar Dovchin and Tulguur Norovrinchen, both of whom studied music in Mongolia, were sent across the border by train on Tuesday and have not been heard from since Wednesday, the New York-based Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) said.
Dalaibaatar had a valid student visa and Tulguur had an asylum-seeker certificate from the U.N. refugee agency, but authorities gave no explanation for their deportation, the group said.
The two were detained by police in Mongolia's capital Ulan Bator for two hours on May 9 while planning to attend a press conference calling on authorities not to repatriate anti-China activist Alhaa Norovtseren, who is also from Inner Mongolia, according to SMHRIC.
Alhaa, an outspoken critic of Chinese policies in Inner Mongolia, has made public appeals to be allowed to stay in Mongolia after being notified last month that he must leave, threatening to self-immolate in protest if he is deported.
The deportation underscores concerns among Inner Mongolians over Mongolia's ties with Beijing, which has been accused of blatant human rights abuses, activists say.
Dalaibaatar is a doctoral student in music studies at the National University of Mongolia and Tulguur studied at the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture and the Mongoljingoo School and was once part of a music band, according to the group.
The two are believed to have been actively involved in promoting human rights and traditional culture and heritage in their homeland while they were in neighboring Mongolia, according to SMHRIC.
Dalaibaatar spoke briefly with SMHRIC on Wednesday after he and Tulguur arrived across the border, but the call was cut short by someone believed to be their escort and successive calls were not answered.
Tulguur's wife Batzayaa Doshdondog told SMHRIC Wednesday she was going to China in search of her husband because she had no information about his or Dalaibaatar's status other than that they had been sent to the Chinese border city of Erenhot (in Chinese, Erlian).
"I am at the entrance to the Chinese side hoping to see my husband," said Batzayaa, who is a citizen of Mongolia, while waiting to go through customs.
"At the moment I don't have any further information about their status and it is inconvenient for me to talk here."
SMRHIC said the pair's repatriation was the first major case of Mongolian authorities sending Inner Mongolians back to China since that of Batzangaa, who has been imprisoned since his deportation five years ago.
The deportation of Alhaa has been postponed after he sent an open letter to Mongolian President Tsakhiyagiin Elbegdorj stating he would self-immolate rather than accept deportation to China.
Alhaa, who has lived in Mongolia since 1992, was given a notice from immigration authorities on May 5 ordering him to leave voluntarily in 10 days or face deportation to China.
Alhaa accused authorities of bending to the will of Beijing, telling Elbedgorj he was willing to die "for the freedom and human rights" of ethnic Mongolians in China and elsewhere.
Ethnic Mongolians in Inner Mongolia have long complained that mining and desertification are destroying their traditional grazing lands, and that the government has forced them to settle in permanent dwellings in defiance of their herding traditions.
Inner Mongolian communities around the globe are "deeply troubled" by Mongolia's "unusually close" relationship with China and violation of the rights of Inner Mongolian exiles, SMHRIC said.
In October 2009, Batzangaa, the principal of a Mongol-Tibetan medical school from Inner Mongolia's Ordos region, was sent back to China while he was still under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and imprisoned in Inner Mongolia Jail No. 4.
In May 2012, historian Rolmaajidiin Tsengel, an exile from Inner Mongolia, was arrested and jailed in Mongolia on charges of "attempt to overthrow the government of Mongolia and conspiracy of a coup."
John Ivison: To the governor-general, Genghis Khan isn't so much a genocidal warlord as a 'purveyor of knowledge and enlightenment'
May 16 (National Post) Genghis Khan has garnered bad press over the past 800 years, largely on account of being one of history's most destructive and genocidal warlords. Pouring molten silver into the eyes and ears of your enemies is generally not considered good reputation management.
But the founder of the Mongol Empire has a high-profile advocate in Canada — the Governor-General.
David Johnston has made repeated references in recent speeches on higher education to the achievements of this "unlikely purveyor of knowledge and enlightenment."
The Governor-General was in Mongolia last fall and said he learned much about Genghis Khan's contribution to Western civilization.
"The Mongol conquest of lands stretching from the Pacific Ocean in the east to Vienna in the west, saw Genghis Khan and his descendants spread knowledge, ideas and new technologies — the stirrup, the compass, gunpowder and the printing press — all across the vastness of Asia and Western Europe," he said in a speech in Los Angeles on the subject of innovation exchange across borders.
Added to that list could also be included siege warfare, the diverting of rivers to flood target cities and the use of enemy prisoners as human shields.
Genghis Khan was clearly a complex and misunderstood character. He is lauded for creating an empire grounded in meritocracy, where ethnicity and race were of little account, and of practicing religious tolerance. In modern-day Mongolia, he is considered the embodiment of Mongol identity — his face is found on the currency and the international airport at Ulan Bator is named after him.
He is less revered the further west you travel, and in the Middle East and Iran, he is considered responsible for the death of millions of people.
Historians have estimated that Iran's population did not reach its pre-Mongol levels until the mid-20th century.
Still, Mr. Johnston said the ideas spread by the Mongols may have provided insights to Western thinkers like Leonardo da Vinci.
"Scholars are only now beginning to unravel the complex nature of discovery and how ideas are spread throughout human societies. The notion that the Enlightenment may have been sparked, at least in part, by Mongol ingenuity may be new to us but it is consistent with what we are discovering about how ideas travel and how civilizations thrive or fail based on their capacity to innovate," he said.
Genghis Khan has a deserved reputation for being a quick student, always keen to adopt new technologies and ideas. But, overwhelmingly, that knowledge was used to kill his enemies on an industrial scale. The Mongol conquest of Samarkand was typical in that the vanquished people of the city were forced to evacuate, assemble on a plain outside the city where they were killed and pyramids of their severed heads were raised as a symbol of victory.
An unlikely purveyor of enlightenment indeed.
Mongolia and South Korea sign MoU on workplace health and safety
May 16 (news.mn) The Ministry of Labor and the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) on occupational safety and health cooperation on May 15th.
The MoU was signed by the Deputy Labor Minister of Mongolia, the chairman of the National Committee of Labor Safety and Hygiene, J.Batkhuyag, the head of the Labor Relations Policy and Regulatory Authority, B.Alimaa and South Korea`s Vice Minister of Employment and Labor, Jung Hyun-ok as well as a number of other officials.
It has been over a decade since the Labor Ministries of the two countries signed a cooperation agreement. In the past, over 110 Mongolian staff were involved in the occupational safety and hygiene training courses conducted by the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA). These courses contributed much to strengthen human resources in this sector by providing staff with new experience and expertise.
By signing the cooperation MoU, the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) and Labor Ministry of Mongolia will cooperate to improve the legal environment for occupational safety and hygiene and make amendments into the law on labor security and hygiene. They will also share information and experiment on providing management systems, reducing occupational accidents, improving working conditions and hygiene standards, to name a few.
Mongolian Peacekeepers Awarded US Military Medals by Visiting Congressmen
Ulaanbaatar, May 18 /MONTSAME/ A ceremony took place on Friday in the Mongolian Ministry of Defense to grant US governmental awards to Mongolian peacekeepers who successfully served in Afghanistan.
The troops received the U.S. awards for service with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan as well as the U.S. Central Command.
The Legion of Merit was bestowed upon Major-General Ch.Ulaankhuu and Colonel D.Gankhuyag; and the Joint Service Commendation Medal was awarded to Brigadier-General D.Bayarsaikhan, Colonels D.Gankhuyag, D.Enkhbaatar and T.Ganbat.
Army Commendation Medal went to Majors S.Samdangeleg and B.Purevdorj, Captain D.Monkhbaatar, Senior Lieutenants M.Mendbileg and M.Togoldor. Army Achievement Medal was awarded to Lieutenants D.Nyamsuren and G.Ganbayar, other officers and servicemen.
The prizes were handed by Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts). Apart of them, present at the ceremony were Ms Piper Anne Wind Campbell, the US Ambassador to Mongolia; A.Battor, the Vice Minister of Defense; and authorities of the Mongolian Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces.
As of present, about 4,000 troops have served for the ISAF in Afghanistan so far.
US Congressmen Thanks Speaker Z. Enkhbold for Peacekeeping Contributions, Praises Mongolia as Example of Democracy
Ulaanbaatar, May 16 (MONTSAME) The Speaker of the State Great Khural Z.Enkhbold Friday received visiting Mr Steve Chabot, a member of the US House of Representatives and head of the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee of Asia-Pacific; Mr Stephen Lynch, a member of the US Congress; and Ms Piper Anne Wind Campbell, the US Ambassador to Mongolia.
Saying that Mongolia has been sending its peacekeepers to South Sudan, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr Chabot expressed thanks to Mongolia for significantly contributing to the international peacekeeping operations although the country has a small amount of population. He also highlighted Mongolia is one of the exemplary countries for developing democracy.
The Speaker Z.Enkhbold expressed his satisfaction with meeting with the US Congress delegation and with the US Ambassador, and said he is thankful to them for appreciating the Mongolia's contributions to the peacekeeping operations. Mongolia and the USA are possible to intensify their relations and cooperation in all sectors, he underlined.
Apart of them, present at the meeting were M.Batchimeg MP, a deputy chairwoman of the Mongolia-USA group at the State Great Khural; Ts.Tsolmon MP; and other officials.
President Elbegdorj to Take Part in CICA Summit, May 20-21, Shanghai
Ulaanbaatar, May 16 /MONTSAME/ The President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj will take part in the 4th Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Summit to be held on May 20-21 in Shanghai, China.
During the upcoming conference, the President will express a position and policy of Mongolia on the cooperation with the CICA and its member states and involvement in regional collaboration. Moreover, he plans to hold meetings with Xi Jinping, the President of the People's Republic of China, and other State Heads of countries attending the conference.
The 4th CICA Conference will run under a theme on increasing dialogue, mutual trust and collaboration to build a new Asia that is peaceful, stable and cooperative. The event is expected to release a declaration on position of the CICA over international urgent problems. This declaration reflects matters on nuclear weapon-free status of Mongolia, on the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries and on the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue initiative regarding the security in Northeast Asia.
Central Military Hospital to Receive Austria-Funded Equipments
Ulaanbaatar, May 16 (MONTSAME) Funded by Austria, Mongolian Armed Forces Central Hospital is to be equipped with the latest medical hi-techs for treatment and diagnostics.
These advanced equipments will be installed at wards of surgery, image diagnostics, emergency aid-intensive care, and laboratory of new hospital complex.
This is one of planned action to be completed in frames of "Military hospital reform-2012-2020" program with an aim to run big reforms in fields of skillful human resource, advanced hi-techs and mobile military hospital.
This medical center gives health service to all staffers of the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement, senior warriors, retired seniors, and citizens of Bayanzurkh and Nalaikh districts and it intends to become united hospital of eastern parts of the city, further.
Israel Showcases Defense Capabilities, to Cooperate with Mongolia on Disaster Management
Ulaanbaatar, May 26 /MONTSAME/ A delegation headed by Colonel Amir Eshil, a defense attache of Israel paid a working visit to Mongolia on May 11-14, 2014.
The delegation visited Mongolia with an aim to organize an exhibition of defense industries of Israel in Mongolia. In frames of the visit, the Israeli delegation has held a meeting with officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
During the meeting, representatives of national companies of Israel introduced to Mongolia their products for defense, army and reducing disasters, and exchanged experiences in counteracting chemicals and poisonous substances and on progressive devices to fight against steppe and forest fires.
The parties have reached an agreement to expand the bilateral cooperation in protection against disasters.
Israeli Ambassador Expresses Interest in Cooperating in Health Sector
May 16 (infomongolia.com) Minister of Health, Mrs. Natsag UDVAL received in her office an Israeli delegation led by a non-resident Ambassador of the State of Israel to Mongolia Mr. Matan Vilnai and Honorary Consul of Israel to Mongolia Mr. Dorjpalam AMAR on May 13, 2014.
At the beginning of meeting, Ambassador M.Vilnai expressed his willingness to cooperate with Mongolia in health sector and noted that a new technology, invented by Israeli restoration surgeon, Professor M.Topaz based on oxygen and vacuum combined treatments to accelerate wound healing from trauma and diabetes, would be liked to introduce into Mongolia. Moreover, a team of eye surgeons is willing to work in Mongolia, therefore, Ambassador asked supports to exchange ideas and coimplement this partnership.
Minister N.Udval warmly accepted the Israeli initiation of collaboration and assured National Trauma and Orthopedic Research Center of Mongolia will be co-implementing the forwarded issues. Besides, noted that the "Orbis" Flying Eye Hospital team and "Virtu Foundation" NGO are visiting Mongolia in 2014 and affiliated organs in Ulaanbaatar have prepared for a joint works, in this regard, Mongolian doctors are ready to conduct joint seminar, training and surgeons with Israeli team of eye surgeons here.
The Mongolian Dream Series: B. Munkhdul
May 14 (UB Post) B.Munkhdul, 30, is the Founder and CEO of Cover Mongolia.
What is your biggest concern in life right now?
My biggest concern about Mongolia right now would be whether we as a country can develop and put in place the kind of systems where we don't experience economic crisis in our hands every 3-4 years.
My biggest concert personally though would be how much I can contribute to this effort. An effort that we all must keep in our minds in all the national decisions we make.
What would you like to see for your children in 20-30 years in Mongolia?
The kind of future I want to see for my children is a society where they will have equal opportunity to grow and become the kind of adults they want, regardless of their status or how much wealth I give them. All children should have the opportunity to develop and become active members of society, regardless of how rich their parents are.
If you were a top decision maker in the country, and you could change only one thing, what would it be?
One thing I want to change, before anything else, is our health system. Before we even think about how to educate our children or provide the needed skills, we need to ensure a valuable skill isn't wasted away in illnesses. And that all starts with an accessible health system.
On a scale of one to 10, how happy would you say Mongolian society is?
I would say around seven. I think by nature, we Mongolians are an optimistic nation. As a nomadic society, our harsh environment and nature has forced Mongolians to be optimists just to be able to survive.
How do you think this age will be remembered in the future?
If we do it right perhaps we'll remember this time as a time when Mongolia transitioned into a resource country. I think in the next 20 years we'll find out whether we'll become a successful resource country or a failed resource country.
The Mongolian Dream: Michelle Borok, 37, is an American editor at The UB Post newspaper. She is married with one child and has lived with her family in Darkhan-Uul Province for the past two years.
The Mongolian Dream: M.Davaadorj, 20, is a student at the National University of Mongolia.
The Mongolian Dream: B.Nordogmaa, 18, is a student at the National University of Mongolia.
The Mongolian Dream: L.Oyun-Erdene, 44, is a housewife and former psychologist.
The Mongolian Dream: Enkhchimeg Nergui, 23, is a student at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.
The Mongolian Dream: Enkhmaa Tsagaanbandi, 26, is a neonatal nurse at the First State Maternity Hospital who lives with her husband and a child in the Bayanzurkh District.
The Mongolian Dream: Temuulen Ganbold, 24, has recently majored in business management. He lived and studied in the United States for eight years and returned to Mongolia when he was 18.
The Mongolian Dream: Borozenets Tatiana Leonidovna, 51, is a Russian teacher at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.
The Mongolian Dream: Namjil Sodnom, 56, is an English Language Instructor at the National University of Mongolia who has devoted 24 years of her life to teaching students English. She is the mother of two kids and currently lives with her husband.
The Mongolian Dream: Oyun-Erdene Duinkhersuren, 24, is a housewife and lives with her husband and child.
The Mongolian Dream: Tserenbaljid Choinzongompil, 70, is retired.
The Mongolian Dream: Magsarjav Gunregjav, 72, is a retired technician.
The Mongolian Dream: Gan-Erdene Jargalsaikhan, 25, is an unemployed graduate of the Music and Dance College
The Mongolian Dream: Lkhagvadorj Enkhbat, 27, is an artist. He lives with his wife and two children. He focuses on alcoholism and depicts it in his artwork.
The Mongolian Dream: Tsetsegmaa, 50, unemployed.
In April, eastern Russia and Mongolia got roasted like a Christmas turkey
May 14 (The Week) Here in America, we've had a relatively cold winter. April's temperature measurements were only about average. However, if you look worldwide, it turns out April 2014 was the second-hottest April ever recorded, according to preliminary measurements. This discrepancy is because while some places were only average or below-average in temperature, more places were above-average, some ludicrously so. This fact is brought home in the latest temperature anomaly world map from NASA:
Check out that chunk of planet in eastern Asia. Roughly speaking, eastern Russia, Mongolia, and northeast China were getting absolutely fried last month, pegging the chart's maximum over an area about the size of the whole U.S. Remember that next time someone pulls the old "it's cold where I can see, how about that global warming?!" routine.
Time Is Running Out for the World's Rarest Bear — the Gobi Bear
May 15 (One Green Planet) In the southern third of Mongolia in the Gobi Desert lives the rarest bear in the world — the Gobi bear, also referred to as the Gobi grizzly, or called by its name in Mongolian, Mazaalai. The Gobi Desert with its mostly barren, yet hauntingly beautiful, geographical landscape is also home to other rare animals, insects, and plants. An interesting fact about the Gobi bear is that it's the oldest line of the brown bear, the closet thing to the original brown bear, and among the least known large mammals on Earth.
What's Going On?
Can the World's Rarest Bear Be Saved?
How Can I Help?
· Vital Ground addresses the issue of habitat fragmentation head-on by permanently protecting crucial lands for the benefit of grizzly bears and other wide-ranging wildlife.
· International Association for Bear Research and Management's goal is to promote the conservation and restoration of the world's bears through science-based research, management and education.
Link to article (includes NatGeo video)
Mongolian kids get their own place to learn in Seoul
May 19 (JoongAng Daily) The students, neatly turned out in sky-blue uniforms, chant from their textbooks. A typical classroom scene in Korea - except that the classroom is located in a former small apartment building. Some students in higher grades learn inside shipping containers next to the school. There are no playgrounds.
This is a school for children of migrant workers from Mongolia. Located in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, the International Mongolia School is the first and only Mongolian school accredited by both the Korean and Mongolian governments. It offers primary and secondary education in grades one through nine for 85 Mongolian kids.
Its curriculum is the same as for a school in Mongolia, and classes are taught in Mongolian, although students also take Korean-language classes seven times a week.
Ochki, a 14-year-old boy, is one of the school's 85 students. He arrived in Korea with his family eight years ago. His father works in a factory. His mother works as a math teacher at his school.
There was no trouble adapting to the curriculum here because the courses are taught in Mongolian," he tells a visiting reporter in impressively fluent Korean.
When asked whether learning Korean was a challenge, he replies, "Ever since I went to kindergarten, I've been learning Korean, and that has gone on through primary school. So it's not hard for me."
Lee Gang-ae, the school's principal, emphasizes that teaching Korean is part of her efforts to encourage the children to learn more about their host country.
"They need to learn the culture and society of the country where they currently live," Lee says, "and learning Korean is the basic step for that.
"Speaking Korean can be a great asset to each student and it can also have positive effects on Korea in the future. Even if the kids' stays here are temporary, they will carry the experience with them wherever they live in the future."
The school was founded by Lee and Pastor Yoo Hae-guen, a married couple that has long supported migrant workers from different countries.
"Unlike other migrant workers, Mongolian parents almost always take their children wherever they go," says Lee. "In Mongolia, it's important for families to stay together, which I believe is related to their nomadic roots."
A steady stream of migrants have left harsh conditions or limited opportunities in Mongolia to seek better jobs in Korea. The number of Mongolians living in Korea stood at 24,175 last year, a significant number considering that Mongolia's entire population is 2.9 million, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2006, the number of Mongolians living in Korea was 15,237, according to Statistics Korea.
Korea is one of the biggest destinations for Mongolian migrant workers in the world.
With the constant influx, Mongolians have created a so-called Mongol Town in Dongdaemun where they run restaurants and grocery stores along with other businesses for their compatriots.
But for Lee and Yoo, the increasing number of Mongolian migrant workers meant there were more children without access to education or other public services, and that prompted the couple to start the charity to educate young Mongolians.
The school's origin dates back to 1992, when the couple offered free meals and language education to foreign workers from different countries, including China and Indonesia, in a mission center.
"At the time, Mongolian kids spent the whole day in the center because they had nowhere to go after their parents left for work," Lee recalls. "They had nothing to do and just wandered around with their friends."
It was not until the mid-2000s that children of migrant workers were allowed to attend local schools.
But even if the children are accepted into Korean schools, they often fail to keep up with the local curriculum because it's too foreign to them.
"That led us to launch a small study session in 1999 to teach them basic Korean and other major subjects," Lee says. "Back then, we had less than 10 students and studied in a tiny room in a basement in Gangdong District."
As the number of students increased, Lee and her husband felt the need to apply for official accreditation from the Mongolian government, which would entitle them to state funding. In addition, the students that studied with them in Seoul would be able to claim credits if they returned back home to Mongolian schools.
"When families moved back to Mongolia, the schools didn't accept their credits for the courses taken in Korea because we were not an accredited school," Lee says. "And the students had to start all over again."
When it received the couple's request for accreditation, the Mongolian government demanded the approval of the Korean government. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education was reluctant to give approval because it worried about illegal Mongolian immigrants, which were common in the 1990s and early 2000s.
But the introduction of the Employment Permit System in 2004, a government-supported employment program, significantly brought down the number of illegal migrants, and the education office accredited the school in 2005. Still, the Foreign Ministry says that illegal workers accounted for 32 percent of Mongolian residents in Korea last year.
The International Mongolia School is an officially established school, but the couple still faces various challenges - in particular, a lack of funding.
"There is no official route to receive government subsidies," Lee says. "We can apply for welfare support programs for migrant worker children, but that doesn't ensure funds to run the school."
The school charges 1 million won ($975) a year for tuition, but the fees are far from sufficient.
Because of its limited space, the principal has had to turn away Mongolian children and teenagers wishing to study.
However, a glimmer of hope found its way to the couple when the Seoul city government decided to offer a new, bigger site for the school.
The new building is scheduled to be completed by July, but the school is struggling to pay construction fees each month.
"We are relying on charity," Lee says. "For this month, I'm not sure whether donations are enough to keep construction going. But I believe that we can manage to get through the financial troubles because we've come far from small study sessions with eight students."
The International Mongolia School is a central place for younger Mongolians to learn and socialize. For adults, Mongol Town in Dongdaemun is a focal point for a variety of activities.
If you come out of exit No. 15 of Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station, you can spot the 10-story Mongol Tower, easily recognized by its sign boards with Cyrillic characters. Inside, there are 48 businesses catering to Mongolians and Central Asians visiting or living in Korea, including travel agencies, foreign exchange kiosks and Mongolian restaurants.
What is known as Mongol Town started as a cluster of money-changing shops used by illegal Mongolian migrants residing in Korea in the late 1990s.
The area has developed into a business hub and gathering place for many Russians and people from Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
They arrived in Dongdaemun after relations were established between Korea and the Soviet Union and particularly after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Soon, Dongdaemun had become Korea's unofficial Russian Town.
And although there are still Russian restaurants in the neighborhood, the Russian merchants largely left for China and have been replaced by Central Asians and Mongolians.
According to the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, 483 Mongolian nationals reside in Jung District, accounting for more than 10 percent of the total number of Mongolians in Seoul, which is 4,266. More than 400 people from Central Asia also reside in Jung District.
Discovering "Genuine Gold" in Mongolia and the Miraculous Refining Process that Followed
May 12 (LDS Philanthropies, Brigham Young University) Surrounded by the endless rock and sand of the Gobi Desert, hundreds of miles away from her home in Ulaanbaatar, Buyanerdene Chimedregzen shouted aloud with joy when she received news of her acceptance to Brigham Young University-Hawaii.
Her three long, grueling years of studying English through the university's online program were paying off: her dream of studying at BYU-Hawaii had finally come true.
SEARCHING FOR PEACE
Buyanerdene's parents always wanted the best for her and her siblings. When Buyanerdene was young, her mother prayed fervently for the welfare of her children. After a time she felt that nothing seemed to come of her prayers, yet she prayed still more for guidance.
One day while walking, as much by chance as by good planning, Buyanderden's mother noticed a white building that had never caught her attention before. Intuitively she sensed it was a religious building and felt to go in. As soon as she stepped inside the Latter-day Saint meetinghouse, she was enveloped in peace and happiness - the very feelings she had longed to find.
The next day she invited missionaries into the family's home, beginning a chain reaction of miracles that changed the lives of her children.
In those days, few Church materials had been translated into Mongolian. "The American missionaries showed us an English version of the Book of Mormon and shared several passages," Buyanerdene says. They also left a one-page translation of 3 Nephi 11 in Mongolian with a challenge to pray about the book's truthfulness.
"At that time no one knew English from our family," she says. "But we had enough faith to accept the challenge. I put down the English version in front of me and read the one-page translation in Mongolian. Then I knelt down and prayed sincerely to know about the truth. After my prayer, I felt a warm, joyful feeling inside, which I had never felt. I knew that the Book of Mormon was true."
On February 21, 2001, Buyanerdene and her whole family were baptized.
PRESSING FORWARD WITH FAITH
A year later, to the family's shock and grief, Buyanerdene's father died from stomach cancer. Buyanerdene's brother quit school to support the family. Adding to the family's pain were sharp accusations from relatives chastising them for bringing this horror by joining a "foreign religion."
Through all these challenges, their mother's faith burned bright, sustaining the children by encouraging them to attend youth activities and remain active in the Church.
"Because of her great faith we all served missions," Buyanerdene says. "My brother and sister have each married in the temple with spouses who are returned missionaries."
Buyanerdene was called to serve in the Baltic Mission - which includes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus - speaking Russian. Because of visa delays she spent five months proselyting in Moscow before arriving in her mission. "Although I was a recent convert to the Church, I was able to share my testimony and help others find the restored gospel," she says.
LEARNING, LEADING, AND BUILDING
After her mission, Buyanerdene's desire to attend BYU-Hawaii sparked when she learned of the I-WORK program and the possibility it gave her to finance her education through opportunities.
She enrolled in a BYU-Hawaii Online English training class, and after three hard years she completed the course and received her acceptance to the university.
From Buyanerdene's first day on campus she recognized the blessing it is to study at BYU-Hawaii. "Every single day I sought for opportunities to grow spiritually and academically so I could become genuine gold to bless the lives of many people in my country," she says.
Her ambition to learn led to opportunities to serve in the temple, lead her ward Relief Society as president, work as an accountant, and organize a gospel forum for the Mongolian chapter - all while being a dedicated, full-time student.
After years of steady study, Buyanerdene was draped in colorful leis at graduation time, as is customary in Hawaii, having completed a degree in business management and earned a certificate in entrepreneurship.
Buyanerdene's education included certification on the SAP TERP-10 program. "It was very hard for me to prepare for the test," she says. "I was not familiar with the software," which is designed to improve alignment, productivity, and insight while reducing cost and risk in production processes.
"It required me to study much harder than ever before," she adds. "I am thankful for my great professor, Brother James Lee, who taught us and encouraged us, even coaching us until midnight."
Her hard work and long hours paid off: "I passed," she exults.
PREPARING FOR A BRIGHT FUTURE
Her training paid quick dividends. Last summer, Buyanerdene attended a Career Connect event in Mongolia with BYU-Hawaii President Steven C. Wheelwright. As the only candidate with TERP-10 training she drew the attention of the top companies, eventually landing an opportunity to be considered for a job as a lead accountant.
Buyanerdene looks forward to using what she learned while attending BYU-Hawaii to bless her people in Mongolia. She hopes to operate her own business in her home country, and she anticipates the day when she can use her experience serving as an ordinance worker in the Laie Hawaii Temple in a future temple in Mongolia. "I'm excited to build the kingdom in Mongolia," she says.
Catholics in Mongolia: Steady growth in difficult territory
May 15 (ACN News) Despite all the difficulties the Catholic Church is growing in Mongolia. The Apostolic Administrator of Ulaanbaatar, Bishop Wenceslao Selga Padilla, pointed this out when he visited the international Catholic pastoral charity "Aid to the Church in Need". Bishop Wenceslao, originally from the Philippines, has headed the Apostolic Prefecture since it was set up in 2002. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Mongolia this central Asian country established diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1992.
The political transformation was followed by a new beginning. Interest in the Catholic faith grew. The post-communist, democratically elected government invited the Catholic Church into the country in 1992. Wenceslao Selga Padilla came with two priests belonging to the "Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary" (CICM). "We started from scratch. The first Holy Masses were read in a hotel. After that we rented apartments and forged initial links with believers through international organisations and the embassies," Bishop Wenceslao explained in retrospect.
The living conditions in Mongolia are unusual: the country is about as big as Alaska, but it only has a population of 2.8 million; in the winter the temperatures drop to as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius and in the summer they rise to as much as plus 30. Around 55 per cent of the population are professing Buddhists and the proportion of Christians is about 2 per cent; the majority of these belong to the Protestant Church. The number of Catholics is negligibly small, yet it is growing slowly but steadily. In the words of Bishop Wenceslao there are at present around 960 adherents. 49 nuns, 20 priests and 2 monks are working in the Apostolic Prefecture of Ulaanbaatar.
Today the Catholic Church has four parishes plus schools and social facilities, which are expressly desired by the state. When the Vatican set up the Apostolic Prefecture of Ulaanbaatar in 2002, there were about 114 Catholics living in Mongolia. At the end of August 2003 the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral was consecrated in the capital. The building is reminiscent of a yurt, the traditional tent used by the nomadic peoples of Central Asia.
The predominant religion in Mongolia is Buddhism. Like all religious convictions it was fought fiercely in the Soviet period. With the fall of communism the tide turned. Today many see Buddhism as part of the national identity. On the other hand, other religions, including Christianity, are regarded as foreign. Profession of Christian faith is therefore only permitted within Church premises. Young people under 16 may only take part in catechesis with the written consent of their parents, and priests may not be identifiable as such in public.
The interest in the Catholic Church is nevertheless unbroken, even if Bishop Wenceslao observes a certain fluctuation among Catholics: "Mongolia is in a state of upheaval. People are becoming settled and no longer live as nomads. Then there is a growing materialism; many are turning away again from the faith." For the Bishop, however, this is no reason to neglect the pastoral initiatives, which are also supported by "Aid to the Church in Need" – on the contrary: "Since the end of communist rule people have basically opened up to the faith." And he adds: "Certainly a lot depends on the dedication of the missionaries, but evangelisation has many facets. Whatever we do, social work, education, humanitarian aid, it all has an impact on society."
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