Please click Display Images or Download Pictures to properly view this newswire
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Oyu Tolgoi Phase 2 Could Spark Mongolia Recovery by 2016: Mantis
By Michael Kohn
January 13 (Bloomberg) -- GDP to increase, Mongolian tugrik to find support in 2016 on improving FDI inflow expected from construction of Oyu Tolgoi underground phase, according to risk qualification-forecasting firm Mantis
* Disputes between govt, Rio Tinto to be settled by mid-2015 leading to recovery in GDP growth starting in late 2015; later than expected start would delay recovery
* Impact of Oyu Tolgoi 2nd phase construction on economy to be more smaller than 2010-12 first phase, as most infrastructure already complete
* Tugrik to devalue less than 2%/yr against USD starting in 2016 on factors including recovering FDI, expanding production from Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi mines
* While GDP growth this yr restricted on slower growth in China, growth to accelerate to 10% by 2017
* Inflation to moderate to 7% by end-2015; reduction, improved foreign currency inflow will let Bank of Mongolia cut policy rate to 10% from current 12% by 2016: Mantis
Justice Coalition Makes Inquires on Strategic Deposition Consideration of Centerra's Gatsuurt
Ulaanbaatar, January 13 (MONTSAME) Head of the Parliamentary MPRP-MNDP joint "Justice" faction Mr N.Battsereg MP called a press conference on Monday to share the results of the faction's inquiries on Tavan Tolgoi and Gatsuurt deposits.
The last meeting of the Parliament has discussed the issue of including the Gatsuurt gold deposit in the list of strategic deposits of Mongolia. After taking a break on this meeting, the faction has held its meeting to get sounded with various types of information about the deposit with assistance from a citizen of Mandal soum of Selenge aimag, a cryologist, and representatives of NGOs.
The faction members exchanged their opinions about "Noyon" mountain, a historic landmark where the findings date back to the times of Hun Empire have been found, on whether there are still more archaeological findings to be discovered, and about the measures to be taken in such a case.
Head of the faction N.Battsereg MP expressed that he is not against conducting any mining operations at the site and registering it as a strategic deposit. "I am only concerned about the potential threat of destruction for Noyon mountain, and for the historic heritages around the landmark", he added.
Minister of Mongolia and a head of the Tavan Tolgoi working group M.Enkhsaikhan gave the faction information about current processes of the Tavan Tolgoi negotiations. According to him, the negotiations have concluded its initial phase, thus, the sub-groups on the matters of railroads and deposit investment have been obligated to settle detailed resolutions for the major coal deposit.
YAK closed flat at C$0.70 Tuesday, MNGGF at US$0.60
Mongolia Growth Group: CEO's Address to Shareholders
CEO's Address to Shareholders
To The Shareholders of Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (MGG);
As the largest shareholder and newly appointed CEO, the time has come to explain the recent corporate events at MGG and detail our path forward. I feel strongly that the actions taken on December 15th are the first of many concrete steps that will stabilize our business and put it on a much more sustainable path going forward.
How We Got Here?
In the summer of 2010, I embarked upon a journey to Mongolia that became the genesis of MGG. While in Mongolia, I became convinced of the long-term growth potential of the country and became determined to create a way for myself and some friends to invest in a country whose rapid economic growth seemed largely inevitable on the back of a mining boom.
MGG was founded on the principal that we could gain leverage to this growth, while offering the four key tenets of any successful investment; liquidity, transparency, strong corporate governance and most importantly, a clear business strategy. As part of my commitment to this venture, I invested over USD $3 million of my own capital in successive financings undertaken by the company, while refusing any cash compensation since inception.
From the very start of this venture, I was explicit that MGG would focus on creating the maximum long-term return for shareholders—while ignoring potential short-term losses. Central to this belief was the notion that investors would be attracted to Mongolia's rapid growth and naturally seek out the largest public company which offered those four key investment tenets. Given our clear front-runner status, we expected to become the preferred destination for capital by creating the trusted brand for investors wishing to gain exposure to Mongolia. While this would cost money early on, there were many analogs in other emerging markets where the front-runner offered stupendous returns to early investors while continuing to reward subsequent investors.
As we approach the fourth anniversary of this venture's founding, it has become increasingly obvious that; while we delivered on our mandate of creating one of the most respected companies in Mongolia, economic events outside of our control have made it increasingly unlikely that we will reach our prior goal of hitting the critical mass necessary to support our elevated corporate structure in the near term.
The Current Economic Landscape
Mongolia's GDP growth rate peaked in 2011 at 17.5%, but has recently declined into the single digits, largely on the back of a greater than 80% decline in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during 2014 compared to either 2011 or 2012. There are many causes for this decline in FDI, some self-inflicted while others are beyond anyone's control. However, the delay in finalizing an agreement regarding underground development at the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper mine has clearly tarnished Mongolia's image as an investment destination. While I remain confident that this dispute will ultimately be resolved in a manner that is favorable to both Mongolia and Rio Tinto, the timing of this resolution remains unsure. Until then, I do not anticipate a sizable increase in FDI or economic growth rates.
Fortunately, MGG has been largely immune to the effects of the slowing economy—our occupancy has remained stable, while our comparable rents continue to increase in Togrog terms. That said, negative sentiment regarding Mongolia has impacted our ability to raise additional capital accretively, ultimately necessitating change in order to shrink our cost structure to be more in line with our revenues.
Management & Board Changes
On the management side, we will realize substantial cost savings as I am prepared to once again work without cash compensation. In terms of our board, I think that there will be substantial benefits to having a majority of our independent board members (Nick Cousyn, Jim Dwyer and Byambaa Losolsuren) living in Mongolia. Additionally, Brad Farquhar and Robert Scott will be helpful with rightsizing MGG as they have had recent experience at cost effectively running Canadian public companies.
Our new board and I are committed to a program of fiscal discipline necessary to right-size our cost structure and put the company in a position to once again be the preferred destination for investment capital targeting Mongolia. Simultaneously we will be reducing the risks to the business should this economic acceleration be deferred for a number of years.
Since stepping out of the CEO role earlier this year, I have not been involved in the day-to-day operational aspects of the business. This time away from the daily travail of everyday operations offered an opportunity to step back and reassess MGG and its trajectory against our initial business plan.
As a result, I concluded that a change in strategy was required. Our current cost structure developed when we first envisaged MGG. At that time, we contemplated successive rounds of financing that would create a substantially larger property portfolio than we hold today. With few prospects for raising additional capital at acceptable terms in the near future, it became clear to me that the cost structure needed to be revamped, with an eye toward retaining our key Mongolian employees. Inasmuch as we have invested in a solid property portfolio, we have also invested substantially in our Mongolian employees—our other key asset which isn't spoken about enough.
We are currently engaged in a thorough evaluation of all costs in the business and have found a number of expenses that offer little value to the company going forward. Fortunately, many of these costs can be eliminated quite rapidly. While it is too soon to put a savings target down, I think that shareholders will be pleased at the efficiencies we have been able to find over the past few weeks.
Once these costs have been eliminated, we will begin casting the net further. I believe that there are substantial savings to be had when looking at our professional fees, along with certain public company costs that we have largely taken for granted over the years. I anticipate that our new board members will be invaluable in terms of evaluating how to do more for less.
Clearly, cost cutting will only get us so far. While cutting costs, we are going to be careful not to impact our future growth plans. However, when we begin growing again, it will be with a much leaner cost structure that allows investors to see how added capital creates value for MGG, as opposed to simply being consumed to support an unnecessary cost structure.
Where do we go from here?
During 2014, we spent just under USD $900,000 to renovate our prized Tuguldur Center. As I write this to you, the property is effectively 100% leased at projected rental rates, despite a difficult economy. I think this speaks to the unique nature of this high-quality retail asset located in the heart of downtown Ulaanbaatar.
Based on our preliminary estimates, we believe that a total expenditure of approximately USD $6 million will add substantially to the leasable space at this facility and generate more annual revenue than the rest of our portfolio produces combined. With this revenue, our company would show substantial positive cash flow.
We have begun initial planning, along with permitting and hope to complete both by early spring 2015. USD $6 million is a sizable number, and we are looking at non-dilutive ways of funding this without taking on undo risk to the company. Strategically, this may entail splitting the project into two more manageable phases of roughly USD $3 million each year.
In addition to Tuguldur, we have two other prime development sites that we would like to advance in the near-term. Our primary goal is to develop our "Peace Tower" land package, located on Peace Avenue, approximately 100 meters from Tuguldur. We have signed non-disclosure agreements with multiple parties who are interested in joint venturing with us on this project. The second project, internally named "Yellow," would become a retail center, similar to Tuguldur.
While developing property can be lucrative, it also requires substantial capital and entails certain risks. I believe that there are even more interesting opportunities in the fee-based capital-light side of our business. We have been approached by multiple international investors that want to use our in-house capabilities to purchase distressed properties on their behalf. We continue to view this as an excellent use of our company resources.
In summary, I see the recent changes at MGG as being long overdue and necessary to stabilize our business, while still targeting growth. Our negative cash flow has not only chipped away at our balance sheet over the years, it has also discouraged investors from giving us additional capital to grow. The first step is to cut our costs, then re-evaluate and possibly cut more. I remain committed to pushing Tuguldur ahead, and with it, becoming cash flow positive. We are sufficiently capitalized that we can push ahead with Tuguldur without a single dollar of outside capital. Additionally, we have the resources needed to get to a positive cash flow situation, and that is now our focus.
In my May 2011 letter to shareholders, I noted,
"Early in May, our shares traded as high as CDN $6.00. Clearly, I think we are making huge progress at MGG—but isn't it a bit presumptuous to say that a little under CDN $20 million invested in our company in the past four months is suddenly worth in excess of CDN $150 million in market value? I believe our investments have appreciated since we acquired them—but such increases in value in such a short time are simply impossible."
At that time, the value of our shares simply seemed "wrong," and I noted it to shareholders. The value of our shares once again seems "wrong" but at the other extreme. As of the end of the third quarter of 2014, our tangible book value per share was CDN $1.43. While property prices have softened over the past few months, I do not believe that they've declined by anything approaching the magnitude of our share price. Unprofitable companies often trade at less than book value—restoring our operations will hopefully help to close this chasm. Profitable companies often trade at a premium to book value—we aim to get there.
I realize that this company has not exactly followed my planned trajectory—partly due to a slow-down in Mongolia and partly due to mistakes along the way. As the largest individual shareholder, I intend to put things right and ensure that MGG is in a position to thrive regardless of the economic situation in Mongolia. We are debt free, rich in assets and finally taking the right steps to push the company forward. I believe that Mongolia is simultaneously making changes to re-start its own economy, and we want to be ready to take advantage of the next wave of opportunity.
Over the next few months, I intend to return to my normal style of regularly informing you of our progress.
Chairman & CEO of Mongolia Growth Group Ltd.
MSE News for January 13: Top 20 +1.48% to 14,712.61, Turnover ₮10.9 Million, T-Bills ₮12.6 Billion
Ulaanbaatar, January 13 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Tuesday, a total of 147 thousand and 123 units of 19 JSCs were traded costing MNT 12 billion 593 million 230 thousand and 380.
"Khokh gan" /7,565 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /5,768 units/, "APU" /1,600 units/, "State Department Store" /885 units/ and "Tushig Uul" /200 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "APU" (MNT six million), "Tavantolgoi" (MNT 819 thousand and 300), "Khokh gan" (MNT 746 thousand and 545), "Genco tour bureau" (MNT 514 thousand and 831) and "State Department Store" (MNT 498 thousand and 690).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 420 billion 115 million 064 thousand and 202. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 14,712.61, increasing 2014.68 units or 1.48% against the previous day.
MSE Primary Trades ₮13 Billion 12-Week T-Bills at 14.69% Yield
January 13 (MSE) On 13 January 2015, 12 weeks Government retail bonds worth MNT13.0 billion with 14.690% annual interest rate traded successfully on primary market at Mongolian Stock Exchange.
Bellow member brokerage companies participated in the bond trading as follows:
BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, January 13 Close
January MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:
BoM FX auction: US$26.6m sold at ₮1,935, CNY64m at ₮311.66, accepts $15m USD, $0.5m MNT swap offers
January 13 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on January 13th, 2015 the BOM has received bid offer of 56.25 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1930.09-1936.59 and 134.0 million CNY as closing rate of MNT 310.00-312.26 from local commercial banks. The BOM has sold 26.6 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1935.00 and 64.0 million CNY as closing rate of MNT 311.66.
On January 13th, 2015, The BOM has received USD Swap agreement ask offer of 15.0 million USD and MNT Swap agreement bid offer in equivalent to 0.5 million USD from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
BoM issues ₮117.5 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -7% to ₮633.6 billion
January 12 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 117.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
UB Housing Prices Fall for 5th Month in December, Down -0.54% for 2014
2014 / 12
2014 / 11
2014 / 10
2014 / 09
2014 / 08
2014 / 07
2014 / 06
2014 / 05
2014 / 04
2014 / 03
2014 / 02
2014 / 01
2013 / 12
2013 / 11
2013 / 10
2013 / 09
2013 / 08
2013 / 07
2013 / 06
2013 / 05
2013 / 04
2013 / 03
2013 / 02
2013 / 01
Link to BoM release (in Mongolian)
Will more taxes make up for budget shortfalls?
January 13 (UB Post) The government's budget amendments to the taxation law have angered the public. The government has taken the position that increasing taxes will generate a significant percentage of the financing required for the state budget.
Recently, Members of Parliament and other high-ranking government authorities have discussed the effectiveness of downsizing ministries and agencies and trimming ineffective costs. But in a reality, they did not pursue what they discussed and they are attempting to empty citizens' pockets instead.
In particular, over 186 staff will be laid off under the proposed staff reductions. But starting with the government and province governor's offices, the authorities are violating the government's resolution and keeping their staff in their positions to work without pay.
Property taxes include apartment tax, vehicle tax, gun tax, and livestock tax. The majority of Parliament supported a discussion of a three-fold increase to the taxes for a Toyota Prius. Consequently, Toyota Prius owners are now obliged to pay annually 108,000 MNT in vehicle tax, which was previously 36,000 MNT.
Ulaanbaatar City Administration once proposed putting weekend driving restrictions on cars with right-hand steering systems. This idea was met with the public's objections. Now, the Toyota Prius taxation issue is being debated. This Toyota model has already become popular for purchase by median-income households, and some people prefer these vehicles for taxi services. Why are the authorities trying to empty the public's pockets, since they already pay tolls for air pollution, driver responsibility insurance and road use charges? Will drivers accept this tax increase?
An additional clause was added to the Property Tax Law. If a citizen has more than three apartments in their name, they will pay additional taxes.
It is wrong to burden taxpayers to fix a few people's mistakes. It seems like the parliament and government has started planning how to spend money from citizens' pockets, rather than doing something great for the country's development.
The City Administration was also considering a project to charge fees for access to the city's central roads to reduce traffic congestion. Their idea was to apply fees of 50,000 MNT per month to provide drivers with access through the Western Intersection, Wrestler's Palace, and Chinggis Hotel- Geser Temple. City administrators are expected to try to submit the project again soon.
If you drive a Toyota Prius and travel through the city center, you will be obliged to spend a significant amount of money on taxes.
Countries around the world actually impose higher taxes on cars that have larger engines and less efficient fuel consumption. Also, other countries determine taxes based on their population's salary and required living expenses. In other words, in some countries, rich people pay more in taxes. Interestingly, the changes to taxes in Mongolia will affect people who have medium or lower income.
The head of the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer's Rights, O.Magnai, said that people shouldn't pay the same amount of taxes when they buy an apartment that costs over 5,000 USD per square meter and one that costs one million MNT per square meter. Residents live on a wide range of incomes. This issue needs to be discussed further, but it is not getting the public's attention.
The general public will be in agreement that it is time to impose taxes on luxury living.
Doesn't the government have more ideas about how to earn budget income without increasing taxes?
Source: Undesnii Shuudan
Mongolia Govt Seeks to Raise Debt Ceiling to 60% in 2015, Reducing to 40% by 2018
Ulaanbaatar, January 13 (MONTSAME) A renewed version of draft amendments to the Law on Budget Stability was presented Tuesday to the Speaker Z.Enkhbold by the head of the Cabinet Secretariat S.Bayartsogt MP.
The draft has been withdrawn due to the Parliament's decision to dismiss its discussion.
The previous version has been presented for the Parliament discussion along with the draft amendments to the laws on budgets.
The new version of the draft offers facilitating a favorable condition to reduce the debt ceiling to 60 percent of the GDP in 2015, 55 percent -- in 2016, 50 percent -- in 2017, and to 40 percent of the GDP starting from a budged year of 2018, through implementing phases of special debt requirements and offers good debt management.
Mongolia cabinet to submit bill on one-time economic amnesty
Ulaanbaatar, January 13 (MONTSAME) At its regular meeting on Monday, the cabinet decided to submit to parliament a draft law on the economy amnesty.
The bill has been drawn up with an aim to grant an amnesty to some subjects who committed crimes related to tax, finance and entities by exempting them from the criminal and administrative responsibilities.
The draft law is effective over those legal subjects who have violated the 42nd and 43rd clauses of the law on administrative responsibilities or committed crimes reflected in eight clauses of the criminal law.
The bill also reflects some clauses on freeing some subjects from punishments, dismissing the sentence period as well as some criminal and administration violations; and on those subjects who shall not be involved in the economic amnesty.
Members protest unfair election practices at Chingeltei district DP party
January 13 (UB Post) Members and supporters of the Democratic Party in Chingeltei District began demonstrating outside of the DP's headquarters yesterday, regarding party leadership elections.
The Chingeltei District DP is currently led by N.Batmunkh, who used to work as an advisor to former Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag. According to the protesters in Chingeltei District, almost half of the party's members weren't able to vote during the election, and the party concluded that their leader was elected unfairly, scheduling a re-election to reshuffle 16 members. The protesters say that despite appearances, candidates have been predetermined, which has led to the protests by party members.
Other party members in Songinokhairkhan District also joined the protest and started their own demonstration on Sunday.
Political analysts say these demonstrations in different districts are an indication of the beginning of unrest in the lower party levels against District Committees of the DP, which critics believe are formed from family connections.
Former Culture Ministry Building Up For Sale at Auction to Fund Children's Hospital
January 13 (GoGo Mongolia) PM ordered to establish working group to research on buildings that can be transformed into children hospital and to conduct professional expertise.
The Working Group conducted research on buildings of "Auto Impex" LLC, former Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, "Monsam" LLC and Petroleum Authority and reported their professional expertise.
According to professional experts of Specialized Inspection Authority and National Emergency Management Agency, "Auto Impex" LLC building is the most appropriate for the Children`s Hospital.
However, 49% of the shares of the company held by individuals and therefore, the construction of the hospital will take long period. Other buildings are not suitable for children's hospital due to the "Health Organization Environmental Hygiene", "Standards and Rules of Earthquake Zone Building Construction", "The Construction and Maintenance of Engineering Network and Usage" and room lighting plan and building damage, cracks and other statements.
Thus, Minister of Finance J.Erdenebat assigned to Minister of Health and Sport G.Shiilegdamba to sale former Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism or 10th building of Government at auction with its land. Revenues from auction will be directed to funds for expansion of Children Hospital.
Law on Whistleblower Protection to Be Submitted this Week
January 13 (UB Post) Member of Parliament Ts.Oyungerel recently drafted the Law on Whistleblower Protection and spoke with Daily News about the legal project.
You drafted the Law on Whistleblower Protection. What kind of principles will be upheld to implement the law?
The Constitution of Mongolia reflected that every person has the right to express their views and thoughts freely. Protecting whistleblowers' rights fulfills the clause of the Constitution completely. Whistleblowers are defined differently around the globe. Whistleblowers are vulnerable to losing their jobs or salary in Mongolia. I attempt to introduce a new policy that protects whistleblowers' rights. We guaranteed press freedom in the law 20 years ago, but we do not protect the people who distribute news through social media. At present, 17 members of Parliament have supported the law.
There is a frame for executing the law. Who will the law protect, besides whistleblowers?
People who are independent from others can criticize freely. For example, Mongolians who live in the U.S.A or Canada are free to criticize some sectors in Mongolia. They do not receive negative results when they criticize illegal activities. But Mongolians who are in their homeland have the risk of going to jail or paying monetary fines. So there is a question about who must be protected. The rights and responsibility of whistleblowers and person who receives criticism were included in the law.
Who is a whistleblower and who are the people being criticized?
People who conduct activities for public interest have a responsibility to be criticized. For example, the President, members of the government and Parliament, officials who spend the state budget and so on. From the private sectors, social health, nature and environment, and security organizations are included in this as well. A whistleblowers can be anyone but they must not violate individuals' rights that are in the Constitution such as ethnic origin, language, race, sex, social origin, religion and family.
Media organizations are the majority of whistleblowers in society. Does the law refer to them?
Press organizations are the first whistleblowers, and protectors of whistleblowers can be the second whistleblowers. In other words, media organizations are able to protect and hide their sources of information in relation to this law. If the law is passed, it will not urge media organizations to reveal their sources. Whistleblowers will not go to the jail on the basis of hiding their sources.
What measures will be taken if the law is violated? Currently, whistleblowers get fined.
We have heads who cannot receive criticisms. We need to fix this situation. According to this law, the recent case of L.Davaapil and the former Minister of Road and Transportation L.Gansukh can be resolved easily. Whistleblowers have the right to have illegal activities investigated. Today, the implementation of certain legal procedures are not conducted in Mongolia. A person who holds all the information do not report anything. In order to eliminate the misunderstanding in society, L.Gansukh should have reported all the things instead of suing Davaapil. Consequently, the public does not know the truth. Simply put, the public did not value Davaapil's courage.
People tend to defame others using fake names. Will the law encourage this behaviour?
If someone was defamed, they are able to retaliate. As part of the law, higher authorities will not sue individuals easily. Before going to court, they should report and give information to the public.
Have you conducted a research on whistleblowers? Are there many incidences that threaten whistleblowers?
I have studied other countries' laws and policies on this issue to draft the law. Also, I researched recommendations of international organizations and made estimations. Over 90 percent of the report made to the Mongolian Criminal Police Department about defamation came from officials, which means that ordinary citizens do not report defamation.
I have concluded that officials and higher organizations overuse their authorities. I plan to submit the law this week.
Source: Daily News
World Bank Representative Introduces E-Health Project to Health Minister
Ulaanbaatar, January 13 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Health and Sport G.Shiilegdamba Tuesday received a delegation led by Mr James Anderson, the Permanent Representative of the World Bank WB to Mongolia; and Ms G.Pagma, a human development consultant.
At the meeting, the WB officials introduced to the Health Minister the "E-health" project to be implemented with a soft-loan of the WB with aims to improve a consumption of health information system and coordination, and to create E-solutions for quickly delivering health services to selected places.
The project will be tested in family hospitals of Tov, Khovsgol and the city's Songinokhairkhan district, the first and third hospitals.
Goods to be exempt from customs duties
January 13 (UB Post) The provisions of laws exempting goods from duties and import taxes have been amended recently, allowing specific amount of goods or goods within certain price margins to be exempt from customs taxes.
Statistical experts have determined that over 120,000 Mongolians are living abroad. These people often send non-commercial items for personal use, including clothing, children's school supplies, toys, baby shoes, books, souvenirs, medicines and medical apparatus, and instruments. Every time they sent an item, they were charged with paying five percent on customs duties and ten percent on value-added tax.
A law to exempt customs duties for parcels and goods sent from abroad that valued ten times more than the minimum monthly wage, has taken effect on this year. Article 38 for tax exempt items in the Customs Tariff and Tax Law has been amended with Article 38.1.15, which states that international postal parcel for personal consumption, not including two items of the same content and not exceeding the sum equal to ten times that of the current minimum monthly wage, has been exempted from taxes starting January 1.
By making this amendment, issues concerning customs and value-added tax exemptions for parcel sent from abroad will be resolved depending on two factors. The government has increased the minimum monthly wage to 192,000 MNT last year. According to this, goods valued less than 1.92 million MNT, which is ten times the minimum monthly wage, will be accepted without any taxes.
However, the law needs to be careful about the specification "two items of the same content", also referred as identical or similar goods.
What are similar goods?
According to Article 12.2 of the Customs Tariff and Tax Law‚ "Similar goods" are goods, which, although not alike in all respects, have similar characteristics and component materials, perform the same functions and are commercially interchangeable with goods being valued. The Article 12.3 states, "In determining whether goods are similar, a quality, trademark, reputation and the country of origin of goods should be considered."
Considering these indications, importers will have to pay customs duties if for instance, three shirts of the same trademark that don't exceed 1.92 million MNT are sent from abroad. If three different goods such as two shirts and trousers or a shoe, a shirt and a trouser that don't exceed 1.92 million MNT are sent, it can be retrieved without any taxes. As long as a parcel doesn't include more than two items of the same content and don't exceed the limit of 1.92 million MNT, the entire parcel will be exempt from taxes. If a parcel costs one MNT more than 1.92 million MNT or has more than two similar items, importers will be charged with customs duties for the entire parcel. Therefore, it's better to pay attention to these points.
If you want to declare unmentioned goods or want more information, you'll be able to get your answer from the Customs Control section at the website, customs.gov.mn.
Will computers be included in tax exemptions?
Portable computers aren't charged with customs taxes or tariff. However, be aware that the indication about similar or identical goods will apply on computers and other computer items. Good news has arrived for those who thought they wouldn't be able to enjoy tax exemptions because their computer is too expensive. The requirement to not exceed the sum equal to ten times that of the current minimum monthly wage will not apply on this issue.
According to the new Article 13.1.24 in the Law on Value-added Tax, international postal parcel for personal consumption, not including two items of the same content and not exceeding the sum equal to ten times that of the current minimum monthly wage, as for portable computers, not exceeding the sum equal to 30 times of the current minimum monthly wage will be exempt from the value-added tax.
Therefore, you will not have to pay taxes if you receive one or two portable computers, not exceeding 5.76 million MNT, from abroad. Be aware of the fact it has to be a portable computer.
Will the size and weight matter?
Currently, the maximum weight for international postal parcels is 20 kg. The President of Mongolia issued an international postal service standard, MNS 5382-3: 2004, specifying that parcels weighing up to 50 kg can be accepted if the two countries have mutually agreed.
Drugs, medical equipment and food
The Article 15.9 in the Law on Medicine and Medical Devices states, "The following shall be prohibited in the processes of importing and exporting medicines and medical devices," and in Article 15.9.3, "importing medicines, medical devices and bioactive products by legal entities and individuals who don't have the special license." This strictly prohibits sending any medicine, vitamin and bioactive products through international postal services.
The Article 11.1 in the Law on Food regulates, "Food must only be imported and exported by legal entities that are registered in Mongolia." Therefore, importing and exporting food for personal use is also prohibited.
Results of amendments for tax exemptions
It's impossible to account the specific outcome and results from these amendments, taking effect for only 14 days. Still, Post Usage and Technology Agency Chief of Mongol Post B.Sodchimeg reported about improvements made during these two weeks.
She clarified that 120 parcels weren't retrieved a week before the law amendments were enforced due to high tax charges. Locals previously were unaware that customs duties were charged depending on the goods, products and quantity, and often complained about demanding extra charges when postal transportation service fee had been paid. According to B.Sodchimeg, these sorts of complaints has reduced since the enforcement of the two new amendments in the Laws on Value-added Tax, and Customs Tariff and Tax Law.
6th Annual National Renewable Energy Forum, January 23
January 13 (infomongolia.com) The VI National Renewable Energy Forum is ready to commence in Ulaanbaatar hosted by Mongolian Wind Energy Association with supports of the Ministry of Energy and National Renewable Energy Center.
The event will be taking place at the Corporate Hotel & Convention Centre on January 23, 2015 and the Forum Program will be running under three main themes: Policy, Investment and Technology.
The Forum is aimed to focus on vital issues facing in Mongolia's renewable energy sector and during open discussions attendees will consider "Current Situations on Renewable Energy, Challenges and Further Actions"; Governmental short-term plans and actions such as energy price, and changes to renewable energy law and national renewable energy program. The forum will work to ensure that the outcomes will be reflected in Government actions in 2015 - 2016.
The opening remarks will be delivered by Energy Minister D.Zorigt and President of UN Environment Assembly S.Oyun will deliver a speech themed "Sustainable Development of Renewable Energy and Future Aspects".
National Renewable Energy Forum to take place – news.mn, January 13
1MDB subsidiary borrowed RM4 billion to invest in non-existent Mongolian venture, says Rafizi
January 13 (The Malaysian Insider) Government-linked strategic investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), through its subsidiary, had borrowed RM4 billion from the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP), PKR's Rafizi Ramli revealed today.
He said the RM4 billion loan taken by the controversial sovereign fund's subsidiary, SRC International Sdn Bhd, in 2011 was to purchase a mining company in Mongolia.
However, the PKR secretary-general said his investigations into the matter revealed that the said company did not exist, raising questions on where the money was actually spent.
"Initially, the money was meant for buying a mining company called Gobi Coal & Energy as an investment in Mongolia, as reported in the Business Times," he said in a press conference at the party's headquarters in Petaling Jaya today. – January 13, 2015.
MORE TO COME
Ulaanbaatar unveils affordable housing strategy for low-income residents
January 13 (UB Post) A consultation themed "Affordable housing strategy for Ulaanbaatar residents" was organized last Saturday by the Governor's Office, in cooperation with the World Bank and Affordable Housing Institute of the USA.
Developing the strategy took over six months. In addition to improving the living standards of citizens, providing affordable housing for residents with small or lower than average income is expected to contribute to the alleviation of air and soil pollution in the city.
The organizers put together the consultation in order to inform the banking and construction sectors of the measures they will be required to undertake, and to listen to suggestions and opinions of the organizations who will participate in creating affordable housing.
About fifty percent of Ulaanbaatar citizens receive small or lower than average incomes. As their monthly incomes average 870,644 MNT, these families cannot afford apartments without support from the government.
Attendees of the consultation supported the strategy, which will be implemented in short, middle and long term phases.
Under the project, a city housing institution with an arbitrating role will be established and a legal environment will be created. Designated to regulate and arbitrate rather than construct apartments, the institution will be responsible for supporting low-income residents in buying apartments by issuing collateral through advance payments and establishing a credit collateral fund.
The strategy includes a plan to provide housing for low-income residents in stages, depending on the number of family members in a single household, income level, and the number of years a family has lived in Ulaanbaatar.
Private sector to play crucial role "Friendly Ulaanbaatar" campaign
Ulaanbaatar, January 13 (MONTSAME) The Tourism Council of Ulaanbaatar has held its first meeting. It has been chaired by the Mayor and the Governor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul, and attended by the council members along with representatives of tour companies, hotels, restaurants, railways and airlines.
At the meeting, the participants discussed the "Friendly Ulaanbaatar" program, the current state of Ulaanbaatar's tourism, action plan for 2015 of the program implementation, plan of sports' and cultural events and frameworks for tourism development to be held this year, and the "Friendly Ulaanbaatar" campaign.
As a result, a recommendation has been issued by the Council that considered reflecting the opinions and suggestions of the members to the program action plan for 2015, and collaborating with press companies, private entities and civil societies in conducting the "Friendly Ulaanbaatar" campaign, which aims to develop tourism in the city, propagandizing the urban culture, to accustom positive attitude and communication skills in the service spheres.
The Ulaanbaatar Department for Tourism considers the establishment of such a Tourism Council consisting mainly of private companies as a decisive step towards ensuring the participation of private sectors in the decision-making phases.
Combating air pollution: Why targeting the ger districts matters for everyone
By Peter Bittner
January 13 (UB Post) In March of 2014, the World Health Organization announced, "air pollution is now the world's largest single environmental health risk," with an estimated seven million deaths each year attributable to exposure to airborne pollutants.
Over time, harmful gases damage airways and tiny particles of dust and soot trapped in lung tissue are unable to be expelled by the body. The long-term effects of particulate matter accumulation in the lungs are elevated risks of asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, stroke, and other respiratory and cardio-vascular maladies. Recent studies have also found strong correlations between air pollution and an increased prevalence of cancer of the mouth, larynx, and lungs.
It is well known that in recent years Ulaanbaatar has ranked among the world's most polluted cities in terms of air quality, particularly in the winter. A 2011 study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Mongolia's Ministry of Nature, Environment, and Green Development found that levels of particulate matter in UB were 35 times higher than the WHO's recommended levels. More recent World Bank resources have indicated that, "in wintertime, daily PM10 average concentrations reach at least seven times Mongolian standards, four times the most flexible WHO targets for developing countries and 14 times higher than WHO's global guidelines." While air quality monitoring has improved dramatically with up-to-the-minute data available online via sites like agaar.mn and ub-air.info, there are still great strides to be made to ensure Mongolia's capital is a winter paradise. The appalling air pollution—which I experienced first-hand last year living in the Sukhbaatar district—has serious public health consequences.
Annual health expenses for Ulaanbaatar's residents due to pollution-related causes could be as high as 727 million USD according to a 2011 World Bank study. An estimated 1,600 deaths and an additional 8,500 hospital admissions in UB are believed to be due to pollution-related causes, according to a WHO-Ministry of Nature study. A 2011 investigation by Ryan Allen of Simon Fraser University found that one in 10 citizens of UB die at least in part due to the effects of pollution. The hazy skies are especially harmful for children and infants, whose lungs are still developing—and even for those still in the womb. According to research presented this year by Dr. David Warburton of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, the risk of miscarriage in UB quadruples during the winter, when increased energy needs lead to dramatically higher levels of pollution.
The brunt of the public health crisis falls on UB's most vulnerable residents: those who live in the ger districts. With 70 percent of the city's population inhabiting the ger districts and an estimated 15,000 new migrants arriving each year, the portion of residents susceptible to the exceptionally high concentrations of airborne pollutants is only growing. Poor living conditions, low education levels, and inadequate access to health care hinders many families' resilience to air pollution. A 2011 World Bank study found that if air quality was improved to meet Mongolian government standards, mortality due to air pollution in these areas could be reduced by a whopping 24 to 45 percent.
Improving the air quality in the ger districts will benefit not just the residents of UB's growing peripheries but Mongolian society on the whole. World Bank resources indicate that 40 percent of UB's annual pollution is due to ger heating. Therefore, even a 50 percent reduction in particulate matter caused by ger heating would elicit a 1/3 decrease in PM10 levels throughout the city. With each incremental improvement in air quality, hospital admissions will fall, economic productivity will increase, and the long-term quality of life will rise for all residents of UB. Everyone wins.
National and municipal policy makers should take a realistic and aggressive approach to combatting air pollution, specifically targeting these areas. There is no quick fix to reducing air pollution by the nearly 90 percent necessary to meet Mongolian air quality standards. Nevertheless, drastic changes must be taken. I agree with Dr. David Warburton (who penned an excellent UB Post opinion piece on October 10th, 2014) that a transition must be made away from coal and towards natural gas, especially in the ger districts. I also concur with his recommendation that eventually, ger inhabitants should be housed in better-insulated and more efficiently-powered permanent buildings—and conversely that the grid system be extended to the ger areas. There is little doubt that UB needs a greener and more effective power system requiring significant new investment and better methods of implementation.
However, in the meantime, while the complex policy decisions are finalized and the infrastructure projects are carried out, policy-makers, NGOs, banks, and businesses should continue to work towards increasing the efficiency of the ger district's existing energy systems: coal-fired stoves. Several organizations' efforts in this area have shown evidence of making positive impacts on UB's air quality, but their operations need to be expanded upon and better supported by the government.
For example, the Millennium Challenge Corporation's (MCC) 2011-2012 clean stove subsidy program resulted in participants producing, "65 percent lower emissions of PM 2.5 and 16 percent lower carbon monoxide emissions…compared to traditional stoves," according to its website. The MCC's subsidy program is also estimated to have helped reduce the total PM2.5 emissions from stoves in the ger districts by 30 percent and lower the rate of pollution-related respiratory illness. However, the MCC project is long-complete and this year the Mongolian government's subsidies for cleaner-burning stoves dropped from 93 percent to 66 percent. However, Xac Bank's Clean Stoves Microloan Program, with subsidies provided by Ulaanbaatar's Clean Air Fund, has stepped in to fill the void.
To date, Xac Bank's initiative, also known as the Eco Product Program, has distributed more than 138,000 "Xac Stoves" to ger-area residents and offers year-long microloans to ensure affordability for consumers. The program has had measurable impacts. Clean stove users, who in previous severe winters spent nearly half of their income on coal, have cut their heating costs by up to 50 percent through the more efficient stoves. In addition, approximately 970,000 tons of CO2 emissions have been reduced so far through the project. Through its partner, Microenergy Credits, Xac Bank hopes to sell its accumulated carbon credits on global markets to ensure the financially viability of the program. It has already registered with internationally-recognized institutions like Clean Development Mechanism and The Gold Standard. The bank aims to generate profit in international carbon markets in the near future by reducing a projected two million tons of CO2 by 2019.
Environmentally and financially sustainable initiatives employing innovative approaches like Xac Banks's are crucial to ensure lasting, beneficial impacts on UB's most vulnerable communities. But their efforts are only a small part of the larger solution to tackle a problem that negatively affects all of UB's residents. Increasing transparency and accountability on the part of government offices and ministries is vital to successfully implement and adequately monitor and evaluate valuable programs. Fostering further collaborations between diverse stakeholders in a variety of sectors is crucial to building a community of allies to combat pollution. Short-term and long-term projects, small and large scale alike, are all necessary to reducing emissions. With continued concerted effort and alliance, UB's pollution problem will be put in the past.
With contributions from Augustine Hosch, former Senior Project Development Officer in the Eco Banking Dept. of XacBank, and edited by the UB Post for clarity.
Mongolia Approves Intergovernmental Agreements with China on Transportation
Ulaanbaatar, January 13 (MONTSAME) The cabinet meeting held Monday discussed and approved Mongolia-China intergovernmental agreements on allowing Mongolia to reach a seaport and to make transit transportation through territories of China; and on the bilateral cooperation in the railway transit transportation.
These agreements were established during a state visit of Xi Jinping, the President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to Mongolia in August of 2014.
The agreements reflect beneficial clauses for Mongolia such as the routes for transporting Mongolian products, their sizes, tariff preferences and tax terms. Moreover, the number of seaports to be used by Mongolia is augmented by the agreements, contributing to an economic development of Mongolia.
Cabinet Approves New Members of Inter-Govt Committees
Ulaanbaatar, January 13 (MONTSAME) The cabinet meeting on Monday approved the intergovernmental commissions' compositions for the Mongolian side on the trade, economy, science and technical cooperation between the governments of Mongolia and other countries.
- The cabinet discussed a draft new wording of the law on traffic safety worked out by G.Batkhuu and M.Batchimeg MPs, and then decided to convey some specific proposals to the draft initiators.
- The cabinet discussed and backed a draft amendment to the law on state and local properties, and then decided to submit it to parliament. The amendment to the law stipulates that auctions should be announced two weeks before the day of auctions.
Mongolia Defense Minister Meets DPRK Ambassador
January 13 (infomongolia.com) On January 13, 2015, Minister of Defense Ts.Tsolmon received in his office the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the DPRK to Mongolia, Mr. Hong Gyu.
During the meeting, Defense Minister emphasized that the bilateral relations, particularly in defense sector has been successfully developing and expressed his interest to organize a joint training among athletes and exchange science experts as well as invite physicians from North Korea under contracts.
In respond, Ambassador Hon Gyu mentioned that cooperation in the defense sector between the two countries can be developed in many ways and affirmed to support above initiations proposed by the Minister.
At the end of meeting, Ambassador briefed on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asian security issues.
Defense Minister meets Ambassador of DPRK – Montsame, January 13
Foreign Minister meets Ambassador of France on Upcoming 50th Anniversary of Ties
Ulaanbaatar, January 13 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren Monday received Mr Yves Delaunay, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Mongolia.
The sides exchanged views on the bilateral relations and cooperation.
The Foreign Minister briefed about goals of the current cabinet and a structure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then expressed his position on opportunities to enhance the cooperation with the European Union (EU) including France.
In turn, Mr Delaunay reported about measures to be taken in frames of the 50th anniversary of the Mongolia-France diplomatic relations and business activities of French companies in Mongolia. In addition, the Ambassador got some reports on preparation works to the ASEM Summit to be held 2016 in Ulaanbaatar.
During the meeting, the Foreign Minister extended condolences over deaths of people due to a shooting in Paris.
Minister Burmaa to Attend 6th Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Summit
January 13 (infomongolia.com) On January 13, 2015, Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Mongolia announces that a delegation led by its Minister Mrs. Radnaa BURMAA will be participating in the Agriculture Ministers' Summit to take place during the "Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2015" in Berlin, Germany on January 15-17, 2015.
The visit is aimed to broaden cooperation with leading countries in the world and regions that successfully have been developing latest techniques and technologies in food, agriculture and know-how, which are included in the 2012-2016 Government Action Plans of Mongolia.
The Summit will be organized in frames of the International Green Week in Berlin, which is considered the world's biggest consumer fair for the food, agriculture and horticultural industries.
During the Summit, Minister R.Burmaa plans to meet the Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Mr. Christian Schmidt and the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Mr. Gerd Muller to boost the Mongolia-Germany long-term and sustainable cooperation in the food and agricultural sectors.
Also, she intends to exchange views on implementing joint projects and activities and on having opportunities to seek a long-term leasing service to import agricultural techniques, equipment and cattle for the production of milk and meat as well as other financial services in order to introduce the German latest agricultural techniques and technologies.
Moreover, the Minister R.Burmaa will meet the Russian Minister of Agriculture Mr. N.V.Fedorov to discuss issues of mutual high-level visits, the meat export which was agreed during an Intergovernmental Commission Meeting, the second phase program to eradicate Mongolian livestock and realizing a joint program on producing and acclimatizing a new sort of seed.
Furthermore, the Minister for Food and Agriculture of Mongolia will meet Deputy Ministers of Agriculture from Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and Latvia.
Minister of Agriculture to attend global forum –Montsame, January 13
Mongolia provides livestock to N. Korea
By Kim Hyo-jin
January 13 (Korea Times) Mongolia has provided about some 100 calves to North Korea as global aid to the isolated nation has dried up in the face of growing concerns over dire human rights situation.
China's Huanqiu Shibao daily reported Monday that a North Korean cargo plane loaded with about 100 calves flew to Pyongyang from Choibalsan Airport in eastern Mongolia on Dec. 29.
Mongolian Foreign Minister Luvsanvandan Bold (Mogi: the current foreign minister Purevsuren Lundeg, not the ex-minister Bold) told local media last Friday that, "We provided 104 calves to North Korea as part of our host role for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)." Mongolia has held the chairmanship of the organization since last year.
Bold stressed it was a "humanitarian assistance," saying, there was little chance of delivering more livestock due to the lack of a budget.
In Oct. 2013, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj pledged to provide 10,000 livestock for free during his official visit to the reclusive nation. At that time, Tsakhia showed determination to resolve the issue of food shortages there.
It reported that Mongolia faced problem in transporting that many livestock. As an overland route would risk killing them, it needed to deliver them by cargo plane, which was deemed unaffordable.
Pyongyang is expected to send the 104 calves to a livestock farm called "Sepo" in Gangwon Province, according to the newspaper. The farm is a part of a livestock complex Pyongyang established in late 2012.
"Establishing the Sepo complex was one of the biggest priorities for the young leader Kim Jong-un," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies. "Mongolia is trying to maintain close ties with North Korea by cooperating in the project."
Mongolia, a former communist nation, was the second country to recognize North Korea. It has remained close to the repressive regime ― even after its democratization ― by providing aid.
"Ulan Bator needs Pyongyang to allow it to use its ports as the country is landlocked," Yang said.
Mongolia has tried to play a crucial role, portraying itself as an honest broker on the Korean peninsula issue, he added.
North Korea has also been eager to expand its exchanges with Mongolia since relations with China have remained chilly , resulting in less trade of direly needed food and oil.
National Organizing Committee on 2016 ASEM Holds First Meeting
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Very first meeting of the national council took place on Tuesday for ensuring preparation works for the 11th Summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) to be held 2016 in Ulaanbaatar.
The national council's meeting discussed a plan of the preparation works and then set up a working group.
Pursuant to a decree of the President, the national council was set up on December 30, 2014, with responsibility for preparing and running this measure and for providing it with proper directions, The Premier Ch.Saikhanbileg has been appointed as the council's chair, being obliged to establish working groups and services, to adopt a working plan, and to introduce to the cabinet its implementation every month. His deputies will be the Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren and the head of the Presidential Office P.Tsagaan.
The council will also have members such as the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Road and Transportation; the head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government; the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city; an advisor to the President on security and fo reign policy; an advisor to the President on public relations policy; a chief advisor to the Speaker; an advisor to the PM; an advisor to the PM on public relations policy; a working service chair of the National Security Council (NSC).
The State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been appointed the national council's secretary.
National organizing committee on ASEM hold first meeting
January 13 (news.mn) Mongolia will host the 11th Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Ulaanbaatar in 2016. The country has planned 5 billion MNT for the organization of this event, and the ASEM standing committee has allocated 2.5 billion MNT for variable expenses and the remaining 2.5 billion MNT for investment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs budget.
The national organizing committee on ASEM is having its first official meeting today to make a breakdown of the current budget planned for the event.
ASEM is one of the world's biggest international forums, with 28 member states of the European Union, and two other European countries, 21 Asian countries, and the ASEAN Secretariat, totaling 53 members. ASEM member countries and organizations account for 60 percent of global trade. The 2016 edition of ASEM will mark its 20th anniversary.
Nat'l council for ASEM Summit meets – Montsame, January 13
#JeSuisCharlie memorial held in Mongolia
January 13 (UB Post) A group of Mongolian journalists and those who support freedom of expression paid tribute on Friday to the 12 people killed at the offices of the Paris-based satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo on January 7.
Journalists, administrators of press unions, delegates from the Embassy of France in Mongolia, and free speech supporters held signs that read "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) following the attack in Paris. The Press Institute organized the event to add Mongolian media's voice to global opposition against armed threats against freedom of speech.
They lit candles and offered their condolences to the families of the victims and readers of the newspaper, on behalf of all local journalists.
Mongolian translations of the "Je suis Charlie" slogan are also being shared on social media by local supporters.
In final verdict, two ex-commandos to hang for Altantuya's murder
PUTRAJAYA, Jan 13 (Malay Mail Online) ― The Federal Court reversed today the acquittal of two men over the high-profile 2006 murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, sending them back to the gallows in the end to the eight-year saga.
The decision by a panel of five judges chaired by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria was unanimous.
"The Court of Appeal order is set aside. The order of conviction and mandatory death sentence by the High Court are restored," Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar said in delivering the verdict.
Former police commandos Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 39, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 43, previously won their acquittal in 2013 and walked out of prison as free men.
In the August 23, 2013 acquittal, the Court of Appeal ruled that the High Court trial judge's misdirection had rendered the duo's 2009 death sentence and conviction unsafe.
In 2009, the duo formerly with the police's Special Action Unit (UTK) were found guilty of murdering Altantuya in Mukim Bukit Raja in Klang between 10pm on October 19, 2006 and 1am on October 20, 2006.
During the course of their trial, it was revealed that the Mongolian model was shot and her body blown up with explosives in a jungle clearing on the night of October 19.
The other judges on the five-man Federal Court bench today were Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Tan Sri Abdull Hamid Embong and Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop.
Today, the Federal Court said the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond reasonable doubt, also saying that Azilah and Sirul had failed to cast a reasonable doubt on the case against them.
When reading out the brief summary of the judgment, Suriyadi noted that both Azilah and Sirul had separately taken the police to the Puncak Alam crime scene.
He added that the two elite policemen are expected not to be easily intimidated.
"Here the respondents had independently led the police to the scene of the crime, which is a remote and isolated place and high up in the hills, where human remains were found at that place, subsequently proven to be that of the deceased," the judge said, adding that no evidence was given that they were intimidated or tortured during investigations.
Suriyadi also said Sirul's unsworn statement that his involvement with Altantuya ended when he passed the model to Azilah outside the house of political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, was "totally discredited" by several court evidence.
The judge pointed out the inconsistencies, nodding to the discovery of a blood-stained slipper in Sirul's car and jewellery purportedly belonging to Altantuya in his jacket inside his house.
Records of the Smart Tag device also showed that Sirul's car had passed through the Kota Damansara toll plaza that would be a "natural route" to Puncak Alam at 9.57pm on October 19, 2006, Suriyadi said, adding that it was as if Sirul was left with no defence.
Suriyadi also said Azilah's alibi defence that he was not present at the crime scene was "unsustainable" and no better than a "mere denial".
He cited telecommunications giant Celcom's call logs which showed that the former policemen had made calls from his handphone in areas close to Puncak Alam at 10.15pm and 10.19pm, and from Puncak Alam itself at 10.43pm and 11.16pm on the same day.
The station diary entry that purportedly showed Azilah as being at the Bukit Aman police headquarters around the time of one of the phone calls is tantamount to "hearsay" and cannot collaborate his alibi defence, the judge said.
"It is common knowledge that the distance between Wangsa Maju and Bukit Aman to Puncak Alam - the scene of the murder ― is very far apart," he said.
Azilah had previously said his involvement with Altantuya ended at the Bukit Aman police headquarters.
Suriyadi also said the "common intention" of Azilah and Sirul to commit the crime was shown through their joint presence in a car that eventually picked up Altantuya ― which would give the duo the "time, space and opportunity to formulate" the crime.
He then listed all the crucial evidence which would lead to the conclusion that the duo were at Puncak Alam, including their driving off from Bukit Aman with Altantuya on that night ― the last time anyone saw her alive.
"Cumulatively, by linking all the connective pieces of evidence when they were together, to the day when the scene of the crime were independently and separately shown by them, we are satisfied that the prosecution had established the ingredient of common intention," he said.
Abdul Razak was previously charged with abetting Azilah and Sirul in the murder but was acquitted on October 31, 2008, after the Shah Alam High Court ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against him.
The prosecution did not appeal against the 2008 acquittal of Abdul Razak.
Malaysia officers' Mongolia model death sentences upheld – BBC News, January 13
Malaysia's top court reverses verdict in Mongolian model's murder – Reuters, January 13
Malaysia overturns acquittal of policemen in Mongolian model's murder – AFP, January 13
Not end of the road yet for Altantuya's killer facing gallows, says lawyer – The Malay Mail Online, January 13
Altantuya murder trial: Sirul Azhar fails to turn up in court, said to be in Australia – The Malay Mail Online, January 13
After death sentence for Altantuya's killers, family to sue Putrajaya RM100m – The Malay Mail Online, January 13
Cops on the hunt for Sirul Azhar – The Malay Mail Online, January 13
Azilah not going to run, prepared to face verdict, says ex-flame – The Malay Mail Online, January 13
Two Chinese businessmen murdered in Mongolia, suspects arrested
ULAN BATOR, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Two Chinese businessmen were murdered here Sunday in a robbery and all the four suspects have been arrested, Mongolian police and the Chinese embassy said Tuesday.
The four suspects robbed and killed the two Chinese men, who came to Mongolia to purchase wool and cashmere, after breaking into their apartment, police said, putting the motive at greed for money.
Initial police investigation revealed that 210 million tugrug (about 108,864 U.S. dollars) of cash was looted from the apartment.
The four suspects, all in their 20s, left Ulan Bator after committing the murder and robbery and were captured in Darkhan-Uul city in north central Mongolia, according to the police.
The Chinese embassy in Mongolia has urged the Mongolian authorities to fully investigate the case and punish the perpetrators.
Besides, the embassy has also requested Mongolia to beef up protective measures for Chinese enterprises and dwellers in Mongolia, and reminded Chinese nationals to be careful and vigilant.
Two Chinese residents in Ulaanbaatar killed in a robbery – UB Post, January 13
UNICEF Mongolia: Healthy babies, happy mothers
January 12 (UNICEF Mongolia) Alimaa is leaning over and cooing at her newborn baby daughter. The baby is swaddled and wrapped tightly in a blanket. Alimaa has her hair covered, as is the Mongolian tradition. The bond between them is obvious, as is the love Alimaa has for her new child.
"We wanted her so much and have waited for her so long," Alimaa says. "She is my last baby, as now I have two girls and two boys".
Alimaa, 39, her husband Boldsihkan 39, sons Amgalanbaatar, 16 and Enkhbaatar, 6, and daughter Anungoo, 12 live in Uvurkangai Aimag (Province) 200 kilometers from Mongolia's capital city, Ulaanbaatar. The family are nomadic herders and live 27 kilometers from the nearest town. When Alimaa returns, she will take her newborn daughter with her.
For Alimaa this birth was very different her previous three experiences. Firstly it was in Ulaanbaatar, but more importantly the hospital where she gave birth, the National Maternal and Child Health Center is piloting a new birthing practice that will be introduced across the country.
The new practice sees babies after being born placed immediately on their mother's chest in skin-to-skin contact for the first two hours. This time allows the mother and baby to bond, and allows the baby to initiate breastfeeding in their own time.
Alimaa really liked the new practice. "When the baby was delivered, they put her on my chest and I could feel her on my skin," she says. "It was so nice. When they did the skin-to-skin contact I loved it. I was really close to my baby. I could talk to here and really bond with her".
"When I had my other babies, it was in the aimag hospital," she explained. "After they were born, they took my babies away without asking. I didn't know where they were taken or why. I was very worried about them and wanted to see them. I didn't know if something was wrong with my babies".
But this time it is different. "I don't have to worry because she is right here".
Alimaa believes the practice reduced the stress on her daughter. "She is very calm and not crying," she says. "My other children cried all the time. They were not calm and didn't sleep well. I am worried that she is not normal, because she is so quiet. But she is very alert and active. She eats and sleeps well".
And it is not just Alimaa's baby that is very calm and quiet. In Alimaa's room there are three other mothers, each with their newborn baby. The room is quiet and calm. All the mothers looked relaxed and well rested, even though just hours earlier they had given birth to their babies.
Improving newborn care
Alimaa experienced a new birthing practice that is being piloted in the four maternal hospitals in Ulaanbaatar, and will later be introduced across the country. The new practice moves away from harmful and outdate practices, to simple steps that have a major impact on improving the survival and health of newborns.
The new practice includes immediate drying of the baby followed by sustained skin-to-skin contact, delayed cord clamping and early initiation of exclusive breastfeeding.
Dr Oyunbileg, a UNICEF consultant at the National Maternal and Child Health Centre is working to introduce the new practice to all maternal hospitals in Ulaanbaatar. She says the response from the hospital staff has been great.
"A quarter of the scheduled trainings have been carried out, training nurses, midwives, doctors and specialist in the new procedure," she says. "After the trainings, I regularly visit the maternal hospitals to observe the practices and to provide advice and feedback on how staff can improve it."
"I also talk to the mothers and I ask them what they think. They are very positive about the new practice and encourage us to continue".
Dr Oyunbileg explained that the plan was to expand the practice nationwide. "Once we perfect the model, we can scale it up and implemented it in other parts of the country."
Turning the trend around
UNICEF Health Specialist Dr Surenchimeg Vanchinkhuu says children under five were most likely to die during the first 28 days of life. "Of the 2,000 under five deaths in Mongolia each year, 42 per cent occur during the first 28 days of life," she says.
"We need promote high impact, lifesaving interventions in delivery rooms that will improve child survival during this very vulnerable stage of their life," Surenchimeg explains. "The new practice, was developed based on evidence, incorporates simple procedures that will significantly improve a child's chance of survival past the first 28 days of life".
"The new practices helps to keep babies warm, improves their breathing and circulation and establishes early breastfeeding which is key to developing their immune systems," Dr Surenchimeg says. "They are simple interventions, but very effective."
"Instituting a nationwide process, that is the same wherever you go, that uses these best practices will help children survive past the first 28 days of life, and improve Mongolia's child mortality rate".
For Alimaa, she isn't worried the reasons why the new practice has been introduced. "I wouldn't want to change this experience, with the skin-to-skin contact for anything," she says. "Every mother should have the opportunity to experience this".
Zetty Brake is the Communications and External Relations Officer at UNICEF in Mongolia
De Facto: In the Pursuit of Happiness
By Jargalsaikhan "De Facto" Dambadarjaa
January 13 (UB Post) It has been several days since I came back from traveling to India and interviewing His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama Danzanjamts for my "defacto" television program. Last week, I wrote an article titled "Mongolia's great spiritual shift", to summarize and reflect on the Dalai Lama's teachings that relate to our society, economy, and public governance today. This time, I would like to convey his messages about life and happiness.
TRUE MEANING OF LIFE
Everywhere, there are many people who are only living for money and material things. However, some of them – maybe most of them, are seeking the meaning of life rather than wealth because money and power do not bring inner peace. Sometimes, the richer and more powerful one becomes, the more issues and problems one finds.
The most important goal or purpose in life must not be pursuing money and wealth. External material development must be combined with inner development. Everyone is emotional – they get happy, sad, and empathetic. It is related to our hearts and minds. Therefore, inner values are the real key to bringing about inner peace. The purpose of life is happiness. In order to have a happy life, one needs not only external material things, but also inner development.
Material wealth and material development should be combined with our rich tradition that is several centuries old. Material development, modern technology, and modern education provide us with physical comfort, whereas traditional values bring inner comfort.
BUDDHA IS NOT OMNIPOTENT
Spirituality is not exclusive to religion, but it is very important for happiness. The same goes for secularity. Spirituality and religion are not necessarily inherently linked.
It has already been proven by science that peace of mind is essential to being healthy. Constant anger, hatred, and fear are harmful to our health. You cannot buy peace of mind in a supermarket. It is a wealth created by the individual. It is wrong to think it is okay to do something wrong as long as you seek forgiveness and compassion afterwards. In Buddhism, we have no concept of a creator of everything. Buddha is a teacher. Buddha teaches us how to build peace of mind. Since he is not the creator of everything, Buddha cannot forgive our mistakes for a better future. Our future must be created by ourselves, with the right motivation, with the right vision, and with the right behavior. Buddha says you are your own master, so your future depends on you. It is in your hands.
In some countries, poor people are regarded as bad people who are paying for the sins they committed in their previous life. In India, the caste system says that poor people are poor because of their own karma, their own destiny. The Buddhist point of view explains that this is wrong. Everyone is equal at a fundamental level. Buddha treated beggars and poor people with great generosity. On one occasion, Buddha saw a sick person and had his disciple bring water, and he washed the sick man's feet himself. That's how Buddha, our teacher, shows us by example.
Even those who are wealthy will have to work as hard as others to live happily. Those who can offer others support in education and health should do so. Therefore, you can never say that a poor person is carrying his karma and living out his destiny. Many people lack a compassionate mind. It is the same in Tibet. The lack of compassion is even found in some senior lamas. They think that they cannot be close to some poor people because they remain too high to take care of them. This is absolutely wrong. It is time for some monasteries to pay attention to this. We need to understand our wrongdoings and we must change.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUPERSTITION AND RELIGION
There are no good days or bad days to do something. Buddha stated clearly that things happen due to your own previous karma. This means everything depends on your own behavior, not on the movement of certain planets or stars, or specific days. The Fifth Dalai Lama mentioned in his autobiography that on the day of his birth, a very special star was visible. He also said that at the same time, a lot of dogs were also born.
Before Buddhism reached Tibet and other central Asian countries, there were religious beliefs similar to shamanism during the 7-8th century. When Buddhism first reached Tibet, there were some difficulties, even clashes at the beginning. As time passed, people grew to see Buddhism in a more positive way. Eventually, the Tibetan emperors fully accepted Buddhist philosophy and religion. Buddhist concepts and philosophy greatly influenced shamanism. Nowadays, the Pen tradition, which is very similar to Buddhist tradition, lives on in Tibet.
VALUES OF LIFE
Happiness is the value of life. If a person takes shortcuts and eliminates enemies to gain some sort of short-term happiness, these actions will not result in long-term happiness. If you abstain from doing bad things to others and try helping them when you can, you will have the chance to live a truly happy life. It allows you to reflect on your life and feel true happiness; you have had a meaningful life when you've helped others. Those who spend their entire life seeking fame and wealth do not have anything to remember at the end of their life. Wealth and power cannot help anyone escape death.
Please read more about what the Dalai Lama had to say about human characteristics in my next article.
Translated By B.Amar
World champ Mongolian boxer stars in Hong Kong film 'Iron Monk'
January 13 (UB Post) World Professional Boxing Champion Ch.Tseveenpurev starred in a Hong Kong martial arts film "Iron Monk".
Ch.Tseveenpurev character in "Iron Monk", Roy, causes severe injuries to his opponents in the film, which will feature "100 percent Kung Fu", according to the filmmakers.
Ch.Tseveenpurev is a Mongolian featherweight boxer based in the UK. Ch.Tseveenpurev won the Prizefighter series Featherweights tournament on October 29, 2011, the same month that he passed 40. This followed a ten-round victory on June 18, 2011 over former IBO featherweight champion Jackson Asiku – a fight nominated for the British boxing fight of the year.
Ch.Tseveenpurev, known as the Mongol Warrior, began his career with ten-rounder as an away fighter in South Korea and Thailand, fighting legendary former and future world champion Veeraphol Sahaprom in only his third contest. This was one of his four defeats in his career, all by points verdicts.
His boxing career saw him travel to South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and China before settling in the UK in 2000. Ch.Tseveenpurev is currently trained by promoter Spencer Fearon, having previously worked with Jack Doughty and Lee Wilkins.
On June 6, 2008, he was awarded with the title of State Honored Athlete by former President of Mongolia N.Enkhbayar.
Astragalus: Mongolian herb that helps beat tiredness
This month, health columnist Ruth Holmes discusses astragalus.
January 13 (Stroud News & Journal) ASTRAGALUS is a herb. Its common name is milk vetch and the root has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine for many centuries.
It is native to Mongolia and northern China and when research highlighted its effects upon the immune system, it was adopted as an important remedy in the West.
Whereas mainly I would prescribe western herbal medicines, this is one herb that I would not like to be without.
Often echinacea is used and discussed for its properties in enhancing the immune system and for curing colds and respiratory infection and is often effective for those purposes.
However, this herb does not suit everyone, so sometimes taking it will have little or no effect.
It is more effective for treating acute infections whereas the astragalus herb is superb at treating chronic conditions. This is when the astragalus membraneous herb can be useful.
It can help when immunity is impaired where there is a chronic condition such as viral infections that will not go, or conditions where there is a lack of healing – for example, for cervical erosions.
It is useful for any condition which includes symptoms like decreased appetite, poor vitality, post partum or chronic fatigue.
In Chinese medicine, astragalus is classified as a herb that tonifies the qi (energy) and blood (nutrition). As such, it is used for postpartum fever and recovery from heavy blood loss. Studies have shown that this herb restored depleted red blood cells formation in bone marrow and tonifies the spleen – hence is used for fatigue linked to decreased appetite.
Being a root, the chemical components need to be extracted in alcohol, so drinking in tincture form rather than taking as a tea will be more beneficial.
Astragalus has been used in combination with drug therapies to reduce their toxicity and ameliorate side effects and has undergone numerous clinical trials. It is now well known for its beneficial effects when taken during any chemotherapy or radiotherapy, as it does not work like echinacea to heighten the immune system's activity, which is not recommended during this type of treatment. It helps to protect cells and renews them. It also has a positive effect on the cells of the liver and controls fluids by widening blood vessels, encouraging blood to move to the surface. As such, it is useful for wound healing and helping the body to resist cold weather.
This herb is also called an adaptogenic or classic energy tonic rather like Ginseng, which means that it helps the adrenal glands to cope with the detrimental effects that occur after prolonged stress.It also has a nourishing effect upon the nervous system, while manifestly improving physical endurance. This treatment is contraindicated alongside other prescribed immune suppressant drugs such as cyclosporine but otherwise is a safe herb to use.
6th Floor, NTN Tower
Baga Toiruu, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15170, Mongolia
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.