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Monday, October 5, 2015
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Insider Buying: Turquoise Hill Chairman Purchases 8,700 Shares at C$3.36
October 2 (MarketBeat.com) Turquoise Hill Resources (TSE:TRQ) Director Jill Veronica Gardiner bought 8,700 shares of the company's stock in a transaction on Tuesday, September 29th. The shares were bought at an average price of C$3.36 per share, for a total transaction of C$29,188.50.
Turquoise Hill Resources (TSE:TRQ) opened at 3.27 on Friday. The firm has a market capitalization of $6.58 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 39.40. The stock's 50 day moving average price is $3.85 and its 200-day moving average price is $4.53. Turquoise Hill Resources has a 12 month low of $3.17 and a 12 month high of $5.80.
A number of equities research analysts have recently issued reports on TRQ shares. Credit Suisse dropped their price target on Turquoise Hill Resources from C$6.00 to C$5.50 in a research note on Wednesday, June 24th. CSFB lowered their target price on Turquoise Hill Resources from C$6.00 to C$5.50 in a research note on Wednesday, June 24th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets began coverage on Turquoise Hill Resources in a research note on Monday, June 22nd. They issued an "outperform" rating and a C$6.50 price objective for the company.
SouthGobi Resources in Trading Halt Pending Update on TSX Delisting Review
October 5, SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX:SGQ, HKEx:1878) -- At the request of SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX: SGQ, HK: 1878) (the "Company"), trading in the shares of the Company on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited will be halted with effect from 9:00 a.m. on Monday, October 5, 2015 pending the release of an announcement in relation to an update on the Toronto Stock Exchange delisting review.
KRI closed +8.7% Friday to C$0.50
Insider Buying: Khan Resources Director Acquires 482,500 Shares of Stock
October 3 (MarketBeat.com) Khan Resources (TSE:KRI) Director Eric Shahinian bought 482,500 shares of the firm's stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, October 2nd. The stock was bought at an average price of C$0.48 per share, for a total transaction of C$232,179.00.
TDB confirms repayment of US$300m bonds on 30 September maturity
Mongolia Credit Flash Update
October 2 (Mongolia Metals & Mining) --
In major Mongolian credit positive news, according to below Bloomberg screen , Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia (TDB) has paid off on maturity of September 20,2015 US$300m 3- year bonds , which it issued in September of 2012.
TDB has confirmed to Mongolia Metals&Mining payment of bonds out of own funds and that news.mn report of October 1 on new TDB US$500m bonds exchange is incorrect.
According to bond market participants' understanding, the bonds were trading before maturity at around par ( coupon was 8.5%) . Regarding new USD bonds, it is understood that due to difficult market conditions, TDB still has not yet issued them despite the completion of its marketing roadshow in global financial centers.
TDB BONDS MARKET YIELD
According to Khanbank Investment Banking Department (table below), TDB2020 US$500 bonds with sov guarantee are trading at bid/ask YTM of 10.18/9.77%, TDB2017 CNY700m bonds are trading at 13.11/11.99% and TDBM2015 Subdebt due this November is trading at 14.04/6.32%.
BOND ANALYST COVERAGE
In Sept 30, 2015 note "Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia <B3/Neg, B/Neg> ", Morgan Stanley's Head of Asia Credit Analytics, Asia Financials and Frontier Sovereigns Desmond Lee has written:
"I am generally optimistic on the Mongolia sovereign story as risks of a BOP crisis has subsided with FX reserves stabilizing and positive trade surpluses being recorded. The resolution of OT2 dispute in May 2015 paves the way for FDI to return in 2016. However, the banking system is suffering from a severe hangover from the unwinding in Mongolia's earlier QE strategy. Weak exports/FDI combined with tighter fiscal/monetary policies are pressuring economic growth and liquidity conditions, driving up problem loans for the bank sector. To prevent a full blown crisis, Mongolia urgently needs a timely return of OT2-related FDI."
"TDB credit fundamentals – deteriorating at a worrying pace. TDB enjoys a strong market position as the country's #1 largest bank, but its asset quality is deteriorating more rapidly than peers due to the higher proportion of FX lending, higher borrower concentration risks and exposures to more cyclical sectors. Adjusted capital ratios would be weaker if more conservative provisioning was adopted. Another risk is that further credit rating downgrades may lead to defaults on loan covenants."
"Valuations – assessing EM Bank/Sovereign comparables in Africa/Latam/CIS/CEE. In my view, a hypothetical TDBM 2018 bond should be wider than the EM State-owned bank average multiple (1.5x), but inside the EM Private bank average multiple (1.7x), considering TDBM did assist the sovereign earlier and existence of some cross default linkage. My fair value for the new TDBM 2018 would be based on a 1.6x-1.7x multiple, equivalent to Z+1075-1142 (11.8%-12.4% yield). This implies about 440bp pickup over the underlying MONGOL'18s (vs. 180-200bp pickup offered by the government guaranteed TDBM/DBMs over the MONGOL curve). However, a longer dated 5y bond would require a wider multiple (e.g. 1.8x) as the cross default linkage would be weaker. My fair value is based on a more positive view that OT2 FDI will return to prevent a banking crisis, and that TDB remains a going concern entity. But if I'm wrong, spread multiples can be much wider at 2.0x-3.0x, as seen for the more distressed banks in other regions. "
MSE E-Newsletter, September 2015: Top 20 +1.85%, Turnover ₮623.8 Million Stocks
October 2 (MSE) --
World Bank Lowers Mongolia's 2015 GDP Forecast to 3.3%
World Bank East Asia Pacific Economic Update, October 2015: Staying the Course
October 5 (World Bank) --
Falling investment and slowing consumption were a drag on growth in 2015. The poverty rate declined to 21.6 percent in 2014, but the pace of poverty reduction is slowing. New external borrowing eased immediate external pressure, and a major new mining development was agreed to revive FDI. The external accounts, however, will likely remain vulnerable to shocks. Stronger policy adjustment is needed to reduce external vulnerability and safeguard the economy against risks.
Recent Economic Developments
Growth dropped to 3.0 percent (yoy) in the first half of the year due to falling investment and slowing consumption, amid weak FDI and the subdued commodity market. Mining GDP continued to grow, at 16.5 percent due to robust copper production. Nonmining GDP contracted by 0.2 percent. Agriculture maintained 9 percent growth, but wholesale and retail services and transportation contracted by 7.6 percent and 4 percent, respectively, resulting in asymmetric welfare gains and losses across different sectors.
Poverty, according to government estimates using the official poverty line of 146,650 tugriks in 2014, fell from 27.4 percent in 2012 to 21.6 percent in 2014, but its pace moderated compared with 2010–12, with mean consumption growth declining from 10.5 percent to 2.3 percent. Poverty declined faster in rural areas with robust agricultural growth compared with other sectors. Transition to the Child Money Program in 2013–14 from the previous unsustainable universal transfers reduced contributions of social transfers to household income across the board.
The current account deficit narrowed to US$410 million in the first seven months. Exports fell 6.2 percent, with weak coal and oil exports. Falling imports of oil products and machinery reduced total imports by 30 percent. The overall balance of payments displayed a US$82 million surplus in the same period due to large external debt financing. FDI remained weak, recording only a US$150 million net inflow. Portfolio investment, however, displayed a US$623 million net inflow due to sovereign and sovereign-guaranteed bonds issued in May and June, helping international reserves rebound to US$1.7 billion in July from US$1.3 billion in April. A US$320 million drawdown on the currency swap line with the People's Bank of China also provided buffers. The exchange rate remained around 1,995 tugriks against the US dollar, despite the recent exchange rate volatility in the region, with central bank interventions. National inflation moderated to 6.6 percent in August from 9.8 percent in January.
Revenue shortfalls reached 15 percent of the budget in the first seven months. In response, tight payment controls have been in place curbing budget execution at 75 percent of the spending plan. Monetary policy stayed tight. Bank credit growth including securitized mortgages slowed to 5.5 percent in July, with the slowing economy and the phasing out of the Price Stabilization Program (PSP). Outstanding mortgages financed by Bank of Mongolia, however, grew 18 percent over the same period. Nonperforming loans continued to rise to 5 percent of loans in July from 3.1 percent at end-2014.
Overall growth is projected to slow to 3.3 percent in 2015, a decline from the 4.4 percent of the last projection. Mining growth will soften to around 10 percent in 2015 and further slow in 2016–17 amidst the weak minerals market. Nonmining growth will remain subdued in 2015 but is expected to rebound in 2016 with FDI recovery. Poverty reduction will also likely slow, with sluggish real income growth, particularly among households relying on low-skilled jobs in nonagricultural sectors.
The current account deficit is projected to narrow to 6 to 7 percent of GDP in 2015, but to widen next year with growing imports for mining investment. Oyu Tolgoi's underground mine project is expected to help revive FDI in 2016, and also support Mongolia's long-term growth potential.
The fiscal outlook remains weak. Without a supplementary budget to reduce spending further, the budget deficit would likely far exceed 5 percent of GDP in 2015. Off-budget spending through Development Bank of Mongolia's (DBM's) commercial portfolio could also weaken the credibility and effectiveness of the medium-term fiscal plan.
Mongolia continues to face challenges from the weak external accounts and high downside risks. The balance of payments will remain weak due to the growing current account deficit and concentrated external debt repayments in 2017. Slower recoveries in FDI and the minerals market would further dampen growth and the balance of payments. Growing political uncertainty is likely to pose another risk to policy reforms during the election cycle.
The economic policy framework improved in 2015, but further actions are needed to restore a prudent policy framework and prepare for high downside risks. A supplementary budget for 2015 and proper control of DBM's commercial spending would strengthen the credibility and effectiveness of the fiscal plan. A tight monetary policy stance needs to be maintained, and liquidity injection to quasi-fiscal programs should be terminated.
With the sluggish economy, the risk that many households close to the poverty line may slide back into poverty is growing. To preserve poverty gains under tight fiscal constraints, fiscal resources should be prioritized to mitigate adverse impacts on poverty reduction. The social safety net needs to be strengthened by consolidating fragmented programs, targeting them, and improving benefit coverage to the poor and near poor.
Link to report (Mongolia p. 112)
Historic low is ₮1,997.26/USD set September 11 (Mogi: 9/11, whoaaaa!!!)
BoM MNT Rates: Friday, October 2 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
Mongolia's Jan-Aug Inbound FDI Plunges 79% to $103m
By Michael Kohn
October 2 (Bloomberg) -- Inbound foreign direct investment falls to $103m in Jan.-Aug. vs $495.8m yr earlier, according to preliminary data released by central bank Friday.
* Mongolia experienced a $46.7m FDI withdrawal in Aug.; inbound FDI in Aug. 2014 was $53.8m
* YTD current-account deficit at end-Aug. was $358.5m vs $1.26b deficit yr earlier
BoM issues ₮135 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding -15.9% to ₮487.9 billion
October 2 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 135 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
₮148 Billion 12-Week 14.002% Discounted T-Bills Sold with ₮201 Billion Bids
October 2 (MSE) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 200.0 billion MNT. Face value of 148.0 billion /out of 201.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 14.002%.
Ministry of Finance closes its expense account
October 2 (infomongolia.com) The Government of Mongolia is taking series of anti-crisis measures to tackle economic difficulties in the country. As of today, Mongolian state budget deficit reached 679 billion MNT (Tugrug) and US dollar flow to Mongolia stopped. The situation demands to take quick measures.
Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg has suggested cutting the salary of high officials by 30% for three months and reducing expenses. Minister for Finance B.Bolor informed the government that 30% salary cut would bring 2 billion MNT to the state budget.
On October 02, 2015, the Ministry of Finance of Mongolia takes next measure regarding the economic crisis by closing its expenditure accounts. According to the Department of Public Relations of the Ministry, Minister B.Bolor has ordered to close all financing of Ministry of Finance except salary and pensions.
Mining Sector Contributes ₮292.2 Billion to State Budget in First 8 Months
October 2 (Mongolian Economy) In the first eight months of this year, the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia contributed MNT 27.8 billion to the state budget. Of that amount, MNT 21.5 billion was from mineral exploration and mining licence fees, and MNT 2.1 billion was from reimbursement for the state budget survey. Other income sources accounted for the remaining MNT 4.2 billion.
The Petroleum Authority of Mongolia contributed a total of MNT 118.3 billion to the state budget. MNT 116.9 billion of that was revenue from oil. Thus, the ministry of mining contributed a total revenue of MNT 146.1 billion to the state budget.
In the first eight months of this year, Mongolia extracted 15.3 million tonnes of coal, 7.2 tonnes of gold and 766,900 tonnes of oil.
In addition, 145,500 tonnes of fluoride, 820,300 tonnes of copper ore concentrate, 3.7 million tonnes of iron ore concentrate and 61.1 thousand tonnes of zinc concentrate were produced.
A total of 930,000 tonnes of copper concentrate, 3.1 million tonnes of iron ore, and 7.0 tonnes of gold were exported during this period. Also, 9.6 million tonnes of coal and 708,500 tonnes of oil was exported.
Citizens can reclaim 20% of VAT from 2016 under new law
October 2 (news.mn) The new "Value Added Tax Law", which is approved by the Parliament, will be valid from 1st January 2016. Due to this law, the citizens will be possible to take back 20% of the VAT amount, which have paid. In order to implement the "Value Added Tax Law", project team to develop the incentive system of VAT has formed at the General Department of Taxation.
An opportunity to reflect on our economy
October 4 (UB Post) Mongolia is facing another political and economic decline. The Asian Development Bank has recently projected that Mongolia's economy will grow by 2.3 percent this year, which would be seven times less than it was four years ago. The tugrug rate against USD has reached 2,000 while the amount of bad loans at commercial banks increased by 40 percent within a year. The bad loans currently comprise 7.3 percent of all loans. The public budget, which was amended early this year, is expected to run a deficit of one trillion MNT by the end of the year.
Although it is widely perceived that the majority of the reasons for the decline are due to external factors, there are many internal factors.
One of the external factors is the slowdown of China's economic growth, which turns out to be around 6.8 percent compared to the expected 7.2 percent this year. This slump is making it difficult for those countries that supply raw materials to China. Mongolia has been hit the hardest. ADB experts have found that when China's economic growth decreases by one percent due to reduced consumption of raw materials, electric power, and metals, the economic growth of its supplier countries slows down by 0.7 percent. Mongolia's exports are almost entirely composed of copper concentrate, coking coal, gold, iron ore, and oil, which are all shipped to China. Copper exports solely make up 36 percent of total exports and account for 16.4 percent of GDP.
Too many years have gone by while our politicized oligarchs fight each other instead of building a railroad and making use of our geographic location. It has made us miss an opportunity to take advantage of a boom in the mining cycle. Our decision making lacks sustainability because we have political instability and ever-changing laws. As a result, we are not able to cleanse the corrupt political parties full of populist politicians in favor of social care for everyone. This situation can be regarded as an internal factor to the political and economic decline today.
These external and internal factors led to the 2009 crisis. Mongolians were not able to review the politics, economic policy, actions, and systems to identify what was right and what was wrong, and what needed to change. Due to the rapid increase in commodity prices in 2010, Mongolia got out of the crisis through a budget revenue hike. In 2015, we see a different scenario – a big fall in commodity prices, China's economic growth being not as high as before, and Mongolia soon having to pay back huge loans raised from abroad. This is why the economic decline we face today is expected to continue and have more difficult implications.
Therefore, we should see this decline as an opportunity to review our politics, economic policy, actions, and mistakes, so that any faults can be fixed. As a society, we need to accept the current situation, demand that the authorities be accountable and transparent, and ask civil society to form a system to oversee public governance.
We need to look over why Mongolia has not done anything despite all the talk about how our country is overly dependent on sales of commodities, and how we need to undergo a structural change that would allow the development of non-mining industries and exports.
The fiscal policy pursued by our government has been disrupting the normal flow of the market and has not been compatible with the reality of our economy.
For example, as the authorities kept saying that the price stabilization program would continue to be implemented, it created false expectations in the construction industry. In Ulaanbaatar today, 40,000 apartments are not being sold while 170,000 families in the ger districts are not able to find an apartment that suits their needs. It clearly shows the huge gap and misperceptions between the supply and the demand of apartments.
Furthermore, the agricultural industry also has defects today. A fund to support crop farmers is loaning petrol to crop growers. However, the price of the loaned petrol is 27 percent higher than the wholesale prices in the market. Can it be called support then? The actual cost of the bread we are eating has become much higher than its retail price.
All programs and projects implemented by the government with the purpose of restricting prices always end up this way, disrupting normal market relations, creating false demand and surplus, inflating budget expenditures, and expanding deficits. There has been an enormous amount spent to implement and review these programs, which has only made some decision makers in the industry wealthier.
The government is now trying everything they can, including raising loans domestically and from abroad, to fund these programs that produce such negative consequences. Our government is currently giving 12 percent of its budget revenue to pay for the domestic bonds it issued, 25 percent by the end of the year, and the whole budget by 2018.
Since we can no longer borrow more, either from the domestic market or from abroad, the only choice is to reduce our budget expenditure. It led Sakhanbileg's government to make the decision last week to decrease the salary of public servants by 30 percent, freeze the funds allocated for government organizations to hold or attend trainings and conferences in Mongolia and abroad, and to stop the purchase of new furniture.
In order to increase budget revenue, the government is also about to increase the special tax on petroleum and sell some shares of state-owned companies, such as MIAT Mongolian Airlines and the Khutul cement plant this year. This should have been done much earlier.
The parliament is soon to discuss amending the 2016 budget and the 2015 budget (for the second time). It is inevitable that the budget should be projected realistically, reflecting the interest payments and principal payments of domestic and foreign loans. Making up the deficit must also be carefully considered. The fall session of the parliament needs to look at the budget from today to three years' time. That way there will be realistic preparations for repaying the Chinggis Bond principal payment, currently 500 million USD, in January 2018. Unfortunately, the budget is estimated to have the biggest deficits in election years. Anticipating the election, every Member of Parliament starts huge investments in their constituencies, just for the sake of appearances. It seems like it will be the same way again this time.
Mongolia truly needs to review its economic development policy and the actions that are being taken.
Trans. by B.AMAR
IAAC opens fresh investigation into N.Enkhbayar, issues travel ban
October 2 (news.mn) The Anti Corruption Authority (ACA) has started another investigation to check the ex-Chairman of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP). This means that until it is completed, Mr.N.Enkhbayar is forbidden to cross Mongolian border. Currently, the reasons for the investigation are not know. Previously, the ACA had investigated N.Enkhbayar in accordance with Provision 148th of the "Criminal Law", regarding the buildings belonging to the MPRP.
Parliament takes five days break on amnesty law amendment discussion
October 2 (infomongolia.com) The discussion on amendments to the Law on Pardon adopted on occasion of 25th anniversary of the establishment of permanent functioning parliament in Mongolia continues.
President Ts.Elbegdorj has issued a veto on some parts of the Law on Pardon on August 17, 2015. Later on September 15, the Legal Standing Committee supported Article 4, section 4.1, and Article 7 of the presidential veto on the amnesty law. On the same day, the irregular session of the State Great Khural has accepted it for the discussion. Accordingly, Legal Standing Committee has established a working group to work on the amendments to the law. However, the irregular plenary session, commenced on September 07, has concluded without making final decision on amendments to the Law on Pardon.
The parties started next discussion on the Law on Pardon as Autumn plenary session commenced on October 01, 2015. Though, Mongolian People's Party (MPP) has requested 5 days break.
MP S.Byambatsogt, Head of MPP Group in the parliament, said: "The meeting of the Legal Standing Committee held yesterday has brought some issues. For example, Deputy Speaker R.Gonchigdorj stated that discussion of the Law on Pardon is over and therefore there is no need to continue, even though there are still some issues.
At the voting process, members of parliament supported including the abuse of authority into the Law on Pardon. Me and my colleagues MP Yo.Otgonbayar, MP Ts.Nyamdorj and MP Sh.Tuvdendorj protested the results of the vote based on certain law articles but we could not get enough support from the parliament.
The Legal Standing Committee is responsible for the current situation because it did not review the law carefully. Due to the mistakes of Legal Standing Committee, the vote started when members of the parliament did not have general idea about the law.
41 members of the parliament have voted not to include cases of corruption and abuse of authority into the Law on Pardon at previous irregular session. Therefore, we must not change that decision. In addition, the working group of Legal Standing Committee did not distribute introduction documents regarding the amendments on the Law on Pardon to members of the parliament. We must not make careless decision on this matter.
Therefore we request 5 days break."
In response, Speaker Z.Enkhbold has accepted the request.
1,600 Khalkh Gol residents sign petition against special economic zone
Ulaanbaatar, October 2 (MONTSAME) Kh.Bolorchuluun MP handed a copy of the petition, signed by 1,600 inhabitants of Khalkh Gol soum of Dornod aimag, to the head of Standing Committee on petitions O.Baasankhuu on Thursday. He came to the MPs office with the locality's representatives.
In mid-July, parliament decided that a free zone of Khalkh Gol, covering 500 thousand hectares, will be established. This zone regulation includes no restriction neither quota for foreign workers.
"This is likely to cause many risks. The locals requested the State Great Khural to change the status of the new free as an Agricultural zone" explained the locals L.Myagmarsuren, J.Gansukh and Ts.Enkhjargal.
"Here 1,600 signatures on the petition, but it has been backed by all the locals," they added.
In response, O Baasankhuu MP promised to study the issue and consider it at the Standing committee meeting.
ASEM National Council discusses budget, foreign aid, transportation
October 2 (gogo.mn) National Council organizing the 11th ASEM meeting is led by the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg and today the council held its 9th plenary discussion.
Following four issues were discussed at the meeting:
1. Preparation and operating budget of ASEM meeting 2016
2. Foreign aid issue
3. Research on vehicles to serve for delegates
4. Process of road repair related to ASEM meeting
Preparation budget and other necessary expenses for the meeting have been finalized to be invested from the state budget and via financial aids by some countries and concessional loans.
Members of the National Council have got acquaint with the issues and assigned PM Ch.Saihanbileg to resolve expenses for car purchase and road repair without adding burdens to the state budget.
Mongolia sent the official proposal to five countries for the request of aids. Purchase of airport facilities, hotel furnishings, equipment and tools for translation works during the meeting will be finalized with Chinese financial aid.
Moreover, South Korea have announced to assist with conference facilities and hotel management training. No official response was currently received yet from other countries from which security and medical equipment aids were requested.
In scope of construction for the upcoming high-level meeting, conditions of several roads along the route from hotels to the venue will be improved besides lighting and storm water drainage to be installed.
ASEM 2016 will be by far the largest diplomatic gathering in Mongolia's history with over 3500 - 4000 guests including leaders, government officials, international agencies and media of 51 countries attending the event.
Nat'l council about preparation for ASEM Summit – Montsame, October 2
Mongolia Leaders Lay Flowers at Zorig Memorial on 17th Anniversary of Assassination
October 2 (Parliament.mn) On October 2, 2015, President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj, Chairman of the State Great Hural (Parliament) Z.Enkhbold, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg, some parliamentarians as well as other members of government, family members and friends have laid wreaths and flowers to monument of S.Zorig.
Sanjaasuren ZORIG (April 20, 1962 - October 2, 1998) was assassinated on this day and today the late Zorig is commemorated as the "Golden Magpie" of Mongolia's Democracy and leader of the country's democratic revolution in 1990.
Parliament dedicates moment of silence to S.Zorig – Montsame, October 2
Mogi: author is also Zorig's brother, weird it doesn't get mentioned anywhere here
Remembering S.Zorig: A Leader of Mongolia's Democracy
Posted by Sanjaasuren Bayaraa, Director and Advisor of IRI's Mongolia office (1998-2003) and Mongolia's Ambassador to India (2012-2015)
October 1 (Democracy Speaks, International Republican Institute) October 2 will mark exactly 17 years since the dark day when the leader of Mongolia's democracy movement, Sanjaasuren Zorig, was brutally killed at his home on October 2, 1998. He was then 36 years old, three times elected Member of Parliament and Minister of Infrastructure.
Zorig's assassination came as a shock to our society that had seen a peaceful democracy movement in 1990 and successful transition thereafter for 25 years now. It's a pity the investigation into Zorig's murder has not had any results for so many years, and therefore continues to be a black spot in the light of Mongolia's achievements in regard of the rule of law and other democratic values.
Many people have spoken to me about this tragedy since and most of them felt much the same way as many Americans felt after JFK's assassination. Zorig believed in the great potential of Mongolia to become a flourishing democracy and strong economically, where people have the strongest voice in society. He emphasized that a person's priorities should be "nation first, group interest next, and self, last."
I would like to finish with a quote from Zorig: "I believe in the bright mind of Mongols."
MYF poll to name 100 'black' events in Mongolia since 1992
October 4 (UB Post) Mongolian Youth Federation (MYF) announced it will hold public polls for naming the 100 "black" events that have threatened national security, human rights, and the interests of the public in Mongolia.
Residents will be called on to name events that have happened between 1992 and the parliamentary election in 2016. The poll will conclude before the election and the selected 100 events will be included on the MYF's black list, in accordance with the MYF's Black and White List Regulations, which were finalized last month.
The organizers highlighted that they will publish the lists before the election and call on the public to refuse to vote for politicians, government officials, and public figures connected to the black events.
MYF will receive residents' nominations through social media and the MYF's Transparent Account system. The Institute of History at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and other public research organizations will collaborate with MYF and submit their own versions of black events dating from 1992 to 2016.
The MYF's council members agreed to issue regulations for the black and white lists this year.
The white list will be formed with names of people who contributed to the long term well being of the country. MYF said that it will support the work of those named on the white list, as the public's opinion will be the main criteria for selecting candidates.
The "Thief-free Mongolia" movement will also call on the public to fight against bribery and corruption, according to MYF officials. The public, researchers, government and non-government organizations, political party youth organizations, as well as international organizations operating in Mongolia are also being called on to join the movement.
Mongol Content CEO: Everything becomes possible with positive attitude
October 2 (gogo.mn) Mongol Content LLC has become the first company to offer digital contents such as news, images, graphics, available for the mobile phones and change the ringtones with favourite music.
One of the main services the company handles is the national portal website GoGo.mn, which has brought the new breath to the digital media and reporting of the events and has ever since then become the beacon of the industry setting the bars high for its competitors. This has become possible only with the creative and hardworking team behind and talented leader.
She has started her career at Mobicom Corp as a Content Operator, but has reached the heights of her career at a young age and successfully leads the Mongol Content LLC today.
BEING A FIGHTER IS IN MY BLOOD...
-What have you been responsible for as a Content Operator, your first ever job?
-I have graduated Computer Management School in 2001 as Information System Engineer and joined Mobicom as a Content Operator. At that time Mobicom has introduced the new service WAP, which aimed to deliver news and information for the mobile users. My job was to upload information on weather, exchange rates and horoscopes.
-How have you been visualizing your future then, as a new graduate?
-As I have gained degree in information system I was envisioning myself as an established web designer or web master. But then after three years our department planned to launch the new service MobiMedia and I was assigned as a team leader for the new project. Since then I could say that my life has been connected to content.
-You must have gained credibility from the management as the new service launch was put on your shoulders...
- That decision was not because I was great manager or had expertise. It was more a trust to put in me that I will lead the project to the final results. That was my thought at that time and put me in a position where I did not want to disappoint the management. May be my other traits have led them to make that decision.
-At that time my colleagues and management were convinced I was a fighter. They had solid reasons to think so as well. I was living with my husband and baby in a rental apartment, which was not an easy task for the young couple. In 2004 I have found out about the Poverty Reduction Project under ADB to help with loans. I was determined to get qualified for the loans for an apartment, while everyone else was skeptical I could do that. In the end, I have succeeded and with MNT 18 million loan we could purchase our first one bedroom apartment. But it took 2-3 months of hassle. There are many things to learn and see for a newly appointed Project Leader. The biggest challenge for me was the lack of English language skills. I had to communicate with foreign content and technology companies, but I couldn't. In 2009 I was determined to improve myself and set a goal for myself to learn English and went to 6 months language courses to USA, leaving behind my two year old daughter. After completing my language course I have been able to communicate freely with my clients. It again proves my fighter character.
-Back to the establishment of Mongol Content, which now celebrates its 10th anniversary?
-The establishment of Mongol Content dates back to the time when Mobicom Corp started its Engineering Department shift to New Business Department in 2001 to deliver the digital text content, which then was led by our first CEO B.Altangerel. Mr B.Altangerel has seen the future in the digital content field and suggested establishing the separate content company to the management. Over 10 employees and Mr B.Altangerel have separated from Mobicom Corp as a daughter company on October 1st of 2005. I was among those first employees.
MAIN MOTIVATOR FOR AN EMPLOYEE IS THE TRUST MANAGEMENT PUTS IN...
New central auto mall opens after a year's delay
October 4 (UB Post) Ulaanbaatar's new auto mall complex, which experienced delays in construction for nearly one year, held its official opening last Sunday, at the southern end of Auto Checkpoint No. 22.
The General Department of Taxation, General Agency for Specialized Inspection, Ulaanbaatar Public Transportation Authority, Auto Road Authority, General Police Department, and banking and financial institutions will have offices at the new auto complex, according to organizers at the opening.
Out of some 6,000 parking spaces at the auto mall for vehicle sales, 1,200 parking spaces have been sold to 400 individuals for four million MNT per space. Auto dealers will have to pay 15,000 MNT per month for on-site security.
There are 156 locations where cars are sold in the capital. As most of these spots are operated illegally and not up to industry standards, experts have noted that these areas violate health and safety regulations in the capital, contribute to air and soil pollution, and violate people's rights to healthy living conditions in the city.
With the opening of the new auto mall complex, operations at Da Khuree, Uguumur, Daimond, Monbet, Dako, and Start auto markets have been officially closed. Authorities and vendors at these markets have been sent a formal order to vacate the markets and move their businesses to the new complex.
Nomon book café introducing book rentals
Ulaanbaatar, October 2 (MONTSAME) "NoMon" bookstore has erected a building with an interesting design, resembling piled-up books, next to the Government Building 12 in the "Barilgachdiin" Square. The bookstore is abundant in its choice of books, especially in English language.
Nomon coffee shop, on the second floor, offers fast food and coffee, as well as hot dishes of Asian cuisine on very reasonable prices. On the third floor, there is a conference hall with 20 seats. According to a director T.Khurelchimeg, the bookstore is going to introduce the first ever here book-rent services. In order ensure stable operations of the bookstore and the coffee shop, Nomon is planning to organize "Wine&Sushi" events and to open branches of its book-cafes in more locations.
Ulaanbaatar accommodates 40 percent of the country's population, and has eight standard bookstores and six public libraries. This means that there is one bookstore for every 150 thousand people and one library for 200 thousand.
Statues of UB: Sanjaasurengiin Zorig
October 2 (gogo.mn) I BELIEVE IN THE BRIGHT MIND OF MONGOLS. Today is October 2 which marks the dark day in the political history of Mongolia. The day when a prominent Mongolian politician, three times MP and The Minister of Infrastructure Sanjaasurengiin Zorig was brutally killed.
His murder remains unsolved until today. When his younger sister and politician S.Oyun is asked about the possibility to find the murderers on this day every year, she replies that "I believe in the murderers will be found."
A statue for him has been erected in Ulaanbaatar, across the street from the Central Post Office. The statue faces toward the Government Palace, symbolizing Zorig's morning walk toward his workplace, holding bag in his left hand and a cigarette in right hand. He used to smoke a cigarette while reading book and playing chess.
A Judgmental Map of UB
By Ariunty, September 30 (So Why Mongolia?) --
Ariunty is into bows of different kinds: she teaches English, gives stuff away, scratches out morin huur tunes, and points pointy things at camel-skin cylinders.
Mogi: whoops, master mad, doggie bad!!!
U.S. not seeking to have Mongolia broker resolution of N. Korea issues: Russel
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 (Yonhap) -- A senior U.S. official on Friday denied reports that Washington is seeking to have Mongolia play the role of a mediator in resolving the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program and other issues related to the communist nation.
Japanese media have reported that the U.S., Japan and Mongolia are considering holding their first trilateral foreign ministerial talks in an effort to tap into Mongolia's close ties with Pyongyang to resolve a series of North Korea-related issues.
"The U.S. and Japan each have our own respective channels for communicating with the DPRK. The problem isn't that we lack a vehicle for communicating with the North Koreans," said Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, speaking to reporters at the Foreign Press Center via video conference.
"The problem is that the North Koreans refuse either to negotiate on the nuclear issue or to honor the commitments that they have already made in previous negotiations," he said. "That's not to say that there isn't a constructive goal for Mongolia as a democracy, as a neighbor, and as hopefully, a role model for the DPRK, but it's not as a mediator."
Referring to Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj's visit to Pyongyang in 2013, Russel also said that the North should heed the Mongolian leader's calls for reform.
"I think there is great value in the direct, if not blunt, message that he conveyed, speaking as someone who knows after an extended period of communist dictatorship that reform -- both political and economic reform -- brings immense benefits and brings greater security," Russel said. "I hope the North Koreans were listening."
Russel said that the three-way meeting the foreign ministers of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan held earlier this week on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly was useful in increasing cooperation on North Korea issues, especially Pyongyang's continued violations of U.N. resolutions.
During the meeting, the three ministers warned North Korea that it would face further significant sanctions if it pushes ahead with a long-range rocket launch or a nuclear test.
Mongolia and Canada relations reaching a new stage
October 2 (MFA Mongolia) H.E. Mr. Purevsuren Lundeg, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, met the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie of Canada, and exchanged views on bilateral relations and cooperation on 29 September on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.
While emphasizing that the bilateral relations reached a new stage, Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren expressed his desire and interest in looking our relations more broadly not limiting to the mining sector, but also expanding bilateral cooperation into other areas, such as agriculture, road building and housing. Furthermore, he said that we had reached a final stage of concluding the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between the Governments of Mongolia and Canada. The two Ministers exchanged views on some details of signing the Agreement.
Mr. К.Paradis noted that the decision to include Mongolia in the list of countries of focus was significantly important in our bilateral relations. He also informed on a decision of the Government of Canada to implement projects in Mongolia.
New Honourary Consul of Mongolia commences duties in Sydney
October 2, Canberra (Embassy of Mongolia in Australia) H.E. Batlai Chuluunhuu, Ambassador of Mongolia to Australia, met with Dr. Nigel Finch, the new Honourary Consul of Mongolia in Sydney, Australia, and presented his Honourary Consul seal and Execuator.
Dr. Nigel Finch will be the new Honuorary Consul of Mongolia throughout New South Wales, Australia.
Amb. Chuluunhuu on Twitter:
- I would like to thank Mr. Peter Sloane, who served as our Honorary Consul in NSW, AUS for many years, providing support to many Mongolians! - 2:47 PM - 2 Oct 2015
'Belt and Road' initiative: Belt exits China in Xinjiang
Full coverage: 60th Anniv. of Establishment of Xinjiang
October 4 (CCTV) Take a closer look at the two routes in our full coverage of the Belt and Road initiative. First stop, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the country's westernmost administrative provincial region. It is a core zone for the Belt and Road initiative, as the "Belt" goes beyond the border from here.
Earlier we spoke to Xinjiang native, a TV correspondent working in Xinjiang. He told us about Xinjiang's geographic advantage and the rapid development he's seen there.
Xinjiang locates at the northwest of China, neighboring 8 countries of Russia and Mongolia in the north, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the west, as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan and India in the Southwest. So we could say that Xinjiang is the bridge linking inland China and the Mid-Asian countries, as far as Europe.
Xinjiang has rich resources, the shortest transportation distance to the west with the lowest cost, experience of its neighbors' market demand, and barrier free communication with these countries.
Xinjiang has made the 5 centers construction plan to cope with the Road and Belt Initiative. It covers the functions of industry and manufacturing, business and trade, resource exploration, culture and education, finance and baking, transportation and logistics, as well as medical services.
So Xinjiang is going all out to get ready for the great development period, and welcomes investment and construction from home and abroad."
Link to article (video)
Oyu Tolgoi launches Pre-apprentice programme in Khanbogd
- 24 trainees in first cohort
- Participants will be skilled in preparation for job training
Umnugobi, Mongolia, 2 October 2015 (Oyu Tolgoi) An Oyu Tolgoi sponsored 'Pre-Apprentice Programme' was inaugurated on Thursday in Khanbogd soum centre.
The event took place at the Khanbogd Technical Training Centre, and was attended by State Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Magnaisuren, Oyu Tolgoi LLC GM Infrastructure & Services, Andrew Miller, and senior officials from Khanbogd soum.
State Secretary Magnaisuren said: "The Ministry of Labour has been prioritising skills based training, and today I'm feeling grateful that our efforts have been realised through this programme. I hope that it will set a good example for others in the industry."
Andrew Miller, GM Infrastructure & Services, Oyu Tolgoi said: "This is an important step forward in our commitment to developing capacity in the Umnugobi. Mongolian youths have great talent and potential and, working together with our partner communities, we are focused on developing skills to a global standard – fostering sustainable development for the long term."
Over the next six months, the trainees will undertake specialised courses in electrical trade, welding, and mechanics - skills which are in high demand in the mining, construction and infrastructure sectors. These will receive internationally-recognised Australian trade certificates upon successful completion of the programme.
The programme will feature in-class and on-the-job training; Oyu Tolgoi's Technical Training Centre, the Dornod Polytechnical College, and an accredited training provider from Australia will jointly deliver the programme.
The programme is an integral part of Oyu Tolgoi's commitment to support local economic development, local employment, and procurement.
Mongolia extends educational ties with South Korea, wants more engineers trained
October 2 (infomongolia.com) On October 02, 2015, Mr. Luvsannyam GANTUMUR, Minister for Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia, and Mr. Hwang Woo-yea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education of Korea, have signed Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia and Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development of the Republic of Korea.
The signed deal is to prolong Education Cooperation Program for 2006-2010 penned between Ministry of Education of Mongolia and Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development of the Republic of Korea on August 16, 2005.
Prolonged new program will include all aspects of previous program adding concepts of Global Citizenship Education (GCE) of UNESCO. The purpose is to introduce GCE into the Mongolian education system to equip high school students with knowledge and skill to value cultural differences and friendship with people of different countries.
During the MoU signing ceremony, Minister L.Gantumur has proposed to South Korean side to increase number of students under Korean scholarship in engineering. In response, Minister for Education of the Republic of Korea has promised to support the proposal from Mongolian side.
Mongolia asks Korea increase engineering scholarships, establish joint IT school
Ulaanbaatar, October 2 (MONTSAME) The Premier Ch.Saikhanbileg Friday received visiting Mr Hwang Woo-Yea, the Deputy PM and Minister of Education of South Korea.
The Premier expressed a satisfaction with meeting the high guest and with an expansion of the bilateral relations and cooperation in all spheres, especially in the education sector, within the comprehensive partnership level. Noting about the 25th anniversary of the Mongolia-S.Korea diplomatic relations marked this year, he underlined an importance of high-level mutual visits for deepening of the ties and hoped that his S.Korean colleague Hwang Kyo-ahn will visit Mongolia.
The Premier also proposed broadening of the collaboration in the education sector, augmenting a number of Mongolian students to study in South Korea with governmental scholarships, preparing 500 Mongolian engineers, and collaborating in establishing a joint IT school.
In turn, Mr Hwang mentioned that a cooperation memorandum was signed this Friday between the Education Ministries of the two countries, and said he will focus on a realization of this document.
Mongolia: From measles-free to measles epidemic in one year
October 2 (Outbreak News Today) The following is from a World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific news release in July 2014: Mongolia is officially measles free. The Government received a measles-elimination certificate from the WHO-WPRO.
"It demonstrates that measles elimination is not only theoretically feasible, but also achievable in middle- and low-income countries and areas of the Western Pacific", said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.
From Jan. 2014 through Aug. 2014, Mongolia reported a total of 105 suspected measles cases (all 105 cases were classified as discarded).
This year has seen a dramatic turn around in Mongolia concerning measles. For the first eight months of 2015, the country has seen more than 20,000 suspected and confirmed measles cases.
What a difference a year makes.
In fact, the first measles case in Alaska in 15 years was reported in a man who flew from Mongolia to Fairbanks earlier this year.
Mongolia's outbreak began in March this year and by June the government started taking measures like vaccination campaigns and other preventive measures.
Vice Speaker receives head of Toastmasters Club of Singapore
Ulaanbaatar, October 2 (MONTSAME) One of the Vice Chairmen of the State Great Khural L.Tsog received Thursday a head of Toastmasters Club of Singapore Mr Chew Ban Seng.
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development program with 332 thous. members, 15,400 clubs in 135 countries, said the guest. Toastmasters International was founded 90 years ago to empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders, he added.
In Mongolia, Toastmasters opened in 2010, has active clubs in Erdenet MC, MCS APB Brewery, English Language Academy and Wagner Asia.
Bureaucracy Vs. Gender Reassignment
Bureaucracy prevents Muugi, a transgender woman from Mongolia, from continuing her life as a teacher.
After working as a press photographer in Berlin, Mareike Günsche studied photography in Hannover, Berlin and Hamburg. Her diploma work, "Dragkings," was awarded the Canon Award for Young Professionals. Since 2009, she has lived and worked in Mongolia.
October 3 (The Globalist) Muugi, one of Mongolia's transgender population, was raised as one of seven children in a herding family in Khuvsgul aimag, a province in the north of the country.
She left her home, first to study at university at Erdenet, Mongolia's second biggest city, and then for Ulan Bator, its capital, where she now lives with the family of one of her sisters.
Unable to afford the medical procedures for gender reassignment surgery, her papers still identify her as a man.
This makes it impossible for her to be a teacher, the job she was trained for. Instead, she works for an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) non-governmental organization.
To celebrate Tsagaan Sar, Mongolia's New Year, Muugi returns home to Khuvsgul, where her family welcomes her home as warmly as ever.
Text and photographs by Mareike Günsche
Creator of Charlie and Lola Tells Story of Adopting a Child from Mongolia
The creator of Charlie and Lola and other quirky children's characters thought she would never feel right without a child of her own. Adopting her daughter was amazing, she says
September 26 (The Guardian) Spotting the house of Charlie and Lola creator Lauren Child is pretty easy in a square of impeccably turned-out houses. It's the brightly painted one with a clashing door, standing out against so much sober Farrow & Ball. The windows are packed with quirky bits and bobs. And the front steps – emblazoned with chalk scribbles made by Tuesday, her five-year-old daughter – totally give the game away.
When she is told she has been rumbled from way down the road, Child laughs and then apologises for the amount of stuff crammed in the hallway and the open-plan kitchen. "Tuesday loves to do real cooking as well as pretending," she says, gesturing to one side, where a treasure trove of kitchen paraphernalia sprawls out over the surfaces of a play kitchen. There is evidence of a small child – and her many interests – everywhere. "We like to be together, usually in here," says Child.
Tuesday's arrival came about after Child, who had always wanted to adopt, went to Mongolia as part of a Unesco project. She fell in love with the country and its people, and having researched other international adoption routes, decided to find a child there. Child stayed in Mongolia for long periods with local friends who helped with the process before she and her daughter, then two and a half, arrived back in the UK.
"Nothing could have prepared me for what parenthood actually feels like," says Child. "Just our journey home was a baptism of fire." As homecomings go, it does sound particularly tough. "We were in transit for 24 hours and Tuesday was beside herself for most of that time. When we finally got home, she was exhausted and fast asleep after kicking, biting and screaming for hours on end. I, however, was right on the edge," she says.
"I never really knew what was going to happen on a day-to-day basis – things like bedtimes were hard as she wanted to be physically close to me all the time. I remember once I was chatting to someone she didn't know and the only way she could cope was by cuddling me so fiercely that she was standing on my head. All the textbook advice – such as the importance for adopted children to have their own bedroom – was just not an option. She slept in my bed, full stop. To countenance anything else was impossible."
Before Tuesday was even on the horizon, Child had also signed a six-book contract to write a series of novels about teen genius detective Ruby Redfort, a spin-off character from the Clarice Bean books. "I was absolutely shattered," she says. With the fifth of those due out in November, she is now on the home straight.
Before Child became a parent, her childless status dogged her. "My job made it hard – I was asked constantly why I didn't have children and whether I wanted to. I think people forget it's a very intrusive and personal question – and fraught with judgment, particularly for women."
She says she knew she wanted to be a mother when she was 30, but feels that she probably wouldn't have done a particularly good job at that point in life. "I'm a bit more grown-up now," she laughs. "For me, adoption was never a second choice. I just didn't know whether I would have a child biologically and then adopt, or do it the other way round. I'd been thinking about it a lot, and it seemed logical to have a birth child first. But it didn't happen," she muses, clarifying that she adopted Tuesday as a single woman. Her partner of more than a decade, Adrian, has since become Tuesday's legal father. "We are a family," she says.
"If you feel there's something missing from your life, it doesn't matter what wonderful things you have – a good career, a partner you love – it's about that missing element," she explains, adding that sometimes, things being good in your life remind you constantly of what's not there. "You feel a bit perplexed that your happiness can hinge on something you don't have, and that all those other things aren't enough to make you feel all right with the world. I didn't feel right and thought I'd never feel right, without a child."
When Tuesday came along, the agony of wanting a child did naturally fade, says Child. "Her coming along – this delightful character – was an amazing thing. Although it doesn't make your life perfect – as any carer of a small child will tell you – there are just some new problems which come along," she laughs.
Now, their lives are blossoming. Tuesday is at school, makes a mean chocolate cake, has started swimming lessons, loves riding on the back of Child's bike through the north London streets and watching Miranda – and happily, Charlie and Lola – with her mum and dad on the sofa. "She's a pretty average child. She loves school, she's curious about everything." They do talk about her journey in life, but only when she wants to, says Child. She would like to return to Mongolia to see old friends and show Tuesday her homeland again.
3 Incidents Where Ordinary Mongolians Did Heroic Things Abroad
By Natso Baatarkhuu
September 28 (So Why Mongolia?) No matter who you are among your friends, you become an ambassador of your country when you go abroad. And traveling Mongolians are heard of in many places of the world, despite the small population. Some of them come back after a quiet journey and some embarrass us with stupid deeds. But today, we here at SWyM are focusing on the brave Mongolians who went straight-up Superman when there was an emergency.
1. Student Saves a Stranger From Drowning Amidst Bystanders in Russia
A Mongolian student, E.Bokhbat, was chilling out at a beach in Voivovsky, near Moscow, in 2013, when he heard a girl's scream of distress. Apparently, the girl's boyfriend had drowned in the lake, but nobody heeded her call. Except for our guy, that is. Bokhbat jumped into the river and found the victim from a depths of about 30 meters. For the record, that's almost like jumping from a six-story building. Bokhbat got hold of the Russian girl and swam back up, but he had an insane cramp that debilitated him. Luckily, his two other Mongolian friends, D.Ganzorig and N.Solongo, came to the rescue and they all got to the shore.
2. A Businessman Saves 216 Lives by Stopping Cathay Pacific Airplane Hijacker
In 2012, E.Buyannemekh was sitting on a plane that was going to land in Hong Kong from Thailand when he saw a sketchy looking dude walk up to the stewardesses and yell something. Because he was sitting in the front — and also because his spider sense was tingling — Buyannemekh followed up to investigate. It turned out the sketchy dude was a terrorist from the Philippines and was yelling that he was hijacking this plane. He was ordering the flight attendants to open the plane's doors when Buyannemekh jumped on him and took him down. When the situation was under control, the airport officials asked if our hero was an Air Marshal (something like Liam Neeson from Non-Stop or Samuel L. Jackson from Snakes on a Plane) and were surprised when Buyannemekh said, "Nah, I'm just a businessman." Then he put on his shades and walked away, in slo-mo, probably.
3. Undocumented Migrant Workers Save People from Burning Buildings in Korea — and Disappear
In what looks like an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, four Mongolian factory workers pulled 11 people out of a burning building in Singdorim-dong, South Korea, in 2007. At the time, when the fire fighters and ambulance came, the local heroes had disappeared, to everyone's surprise. After a brief media frenzy and debate of whether or not Korea had its own vigilante quartet, the heroes — A.Batsuuri, B.Batdelger, N.Gombosuren and T. Sambuudonid — made their names known. The Ministry of Justice of Korea commended their heroic deeds and sacrifice, providing them with hospital care and official employment. There's even a movie based on this event in talks.
Join us next time for ordinary Mongolians who did heroic things in Mongolia.
Mongolia braces for heavier than usual snow in December
October 2 (gogo.mn) Today, PM Ch.Saihanbileg introduced 2015-2016 winter preparation process at the plenary session of State Great Hural.
Climate change is affecting all over the world. According to the many years of weather report, the year of Monkey has been the difficult wintering as usual for agriculture and livestock. Thus, the Government has been paying a special attention to ensure good preparation ahead of winter.
The Government has discussed approaches to ensure wintering preparation on July 07, 2015 and approved 293th resolution of 2015 -2016 guidelines for wintering preparation in central and urban area.
We have intensively been managing the wintering preparation and implementation at all levels. According to the weather warning made by Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment, weather of the first months of this fall and winter is expected to be unstable.
Especially, more snow than multi-year average will be expected at most regions in December. Therefore, we delivered emergency warnings to local administrations and the public to take an urgent approach for the preparation of hay and livestock movement.
4.2M earthquake registered Saturday in Ulaanhust, Bayan-Ulgii aimag
October 2 (gogo.mn) Yesterday, earthquake with magnitude of 4.2 was occurred in Ulaanhust soum Bayan-Ulgii aimag at 06:50PM.
Astronomy and GeoPhysics Research Center reported the earthquake to National Emergency Management Agency. There were no damages registered as a result of the earthquake.
October 2 (National Geographic) Snow Leopard Trust researchers have been able to follow and observe a young female snow leopard named Anu over the course of four years as she grew up, dispersed from her mother and later had cubs herself twice in her mountain habitat in Mongolia's South Gobi. Recent camera-trap photos show Anu followed by three small cubs. Her tale is a powerful sign of hope for the endangered cat species.
By Matthias Fiechter, Snow Leopard Trust
In the fall of 2014, our team retrieved a research camera they had set up near a watering hole in Mongolia's Tost Mountains. Days later, we got an excited email from the field: "Amazing pics. Mother with 3 cubs!"
Half a year and hours of painstaking detective work went by until we realized we knew the mom of these three cuties. It was Anu, a cat we had previously tracked for several years!
While most of these elusive cats stay hidden forever, Anu has become something a public ambassador for her species since she was first thrust into the spotlight.
Part of A Groundbreaking Study
In 2008, researchers from the Snow Leopard Trust had set up camp in the Tost Mountains, on the edge of the Gobi desert in Mongolia – just a few miles from where Anu was born – for what was to become the world's first long-term study of the endangered snow leopard's ecology and behavior.
Using technology such as motion-sensor cameras and GPS tracking collars, the scientists sought to lift the veil on some of the snow leopard's secrets: how much space do these cats need? How much prey do they consume? How do they interact? Where do they migrate to, and which patterns do they follow?
The answers to some of these questions have helped shape effective conservation measures over the last years. The study showed that more than a dozen cats lived in this area – information that has been critical in partially protecting Tost from the threat of mining until now.
Data from the study proved that snow leopards migrate between various mountain chains, crossing steppe and desert if necessary – promoting efforts to protect these important corridors along with the mountains they link.
In 2010, when Anu was around one year old, she was photographed for the first time by one of the Snow Leopard Trust's research cameras. At the time, she was hiding behind her mother, a cat the scientists had named Inquisitive for her curious nature.
Given her age, the researchers estimated that Anu would soon disperse from her mom and set out on her own to find a suitable home range – and indeed, in the spring of 2011, when she made her next appearance in front of a camera, Anu was traveling alone and had developed into a fully-grown young cat.
A couple of weeks later, our research team would achieve a breakthrough: an alarm went off at basecamp, indicating that a snow leopard had been caught by a hidden snare, giving the scientists the opportunity to equip the cat with a GPS tracking collar. The cat in the snare was Anu.
The researchers had set out to collar a young female, hoping she'd have cubs while they were tracking her. Anu didn't appear to be pregnant though – but with the collars lasting for about 18 months, they were hopeful for 2012.
As her collar steadily sent location data to a satellite, our team tracked Anu's movements for about a year. In the spring of 2012, they noticed a change in her ranging patterns. She restrained her movements more and more, using only a very small portion of her home range. Eventually, she stopped moving altogether. For the researchers, this was exactly the sign they had been hoping for. They believed Anu was about to give birth.
They tracked her signals to a remote cave, not far from the study's base camp. From behind a wall of rocks that must have been built years earlier by local herders, they heard faint sounds. They attached a camera to stick – a bit of a makeshift set-up, as this was before the era of the ubiquitous selfie-stick – and carefully lifted it over the wall to film the inside of the cave.
It may only be a few seconds of shaky footage, but the film the team took that day was historical: the first ever video of a wild snow leopard cub in its den, with its mother, Anu.
A few days later, Anu ventured out of the den to hunt for food. The team used this opportunity to examine her cub, carefully inspecting, weighing and photographing the little kitten. They quickly left the den site and waited at a safe distance for Anu to come home.
After a few hours, Anu returned with dinner and settled back into the den with her offspring.
The photos and videos taken that day had a major impact in the scientific community and were celebrated by snow leopard lovers around the world. Anu, however, didn't seem to be impressed by her sudden fame. Instead, she began venturing out of the den with her cub, teaching the little one to hunt and survive in the rugged mountains of their home range.
Anu's GPS collar dropped off as scheduled soon after, and the team lost sight of her and her cub for a while – our research cameras kept track of them though.
In the fall of 2012, they appeared in a photo – the cub still relatively small. Our team was anxious to see how the two cats would fare through the hard Mongolian winter.
A few months later, in early 2013, the got their answer, as Anu and her cub again passed in front of a camera. By then, the tiny ball of fur our team had found in its den had grown into a handsome young adult.
After this sighting, we lost track of mother and cub for a couple of months. During this time, the cub must have dispersed to find its own home range.
But what about Anu?
Detective Work Leads to Discovery
When a camera stationed near a watering hole in 2014 took pictures of a female snow leopard with three cubs, we were elated. Footage of wild cubs is still exceedingly rare, and is always a powerful sign of hope.
A dedicated volunteer, Simone Schreiber, put together a short video of the playful cubs, and thousands of supporters enjoyed seeing them. Behind the scenes, however, we were trying to find out how this cat was – for scientific reasons and to satisfy our own curiosity.
In the photos from the watering hole, it's hard to make out much of the mother's fur pattern, which is how individual cats are usually identified. So, as a direct ID was impossible, our researchers looked for other photos of the quartet, where they may be more easily identifiable.
Finally, Dr. Koustubh Sharma, the Snow Leopard Trust's Senior Regional Ecologist, found the key pic: a crystal-clear image of the mother, trailing her three cubs, taken near the same watering hole, but by a different camera. He was able to confirm that it was the same cat as in the other photos. More importantly, he now had a good picture of her spots to compare with our database of snow leopard photos.
What sounds like a quick job for a computer is actually quite complicated. Slight differences in posture, angle or lighting can distort fur patterns significantly. Sometimes, what looks like two different cats may indeed be one and the same animal, while similarities in patterns between two cats can lead to false IDs.
"It took some time, and I hit quite a few dead ends, but I was finally able to confirm that the mother with three cubs is indeed Anu", Koustubh Sharma says.
"Seeing Anu again, with a new litter of cubs, gives me hope. It shows that this sliver of snow leopard habitat we're working to protect in Mongolia is a suitable home for this endangered cat, and could support a healthy population."
When can we expect to see Anu and her small family again? "If we're lucky, they'll have passed some of our cameras this spring. We'll collect those photos soon, so stay tuned", Koustubh says.
Meet the three Abu Dhabi-based explorers who conquered the Mongol Rally
October 1 (The National) Driving a "micro" car 16,000 kilometres in 33 days may not be everyone's idea of a great summer holiday, but for three offbeat adventurists from Abu Dhabi, it was the time of their lives.
Motivated by the challenges, variety and prospects for personal growth, Team Anserimates (a play on the obscure Mongolian dinosaur the Anserimimus) – comprising William Harbidge of New Zealand, and David Knapp and Alex Niswander, both of the United States – took on the Mongol Rally in July and August, driving through some of the most scenic and remote parts of Europe and Asia in a tiny, underpowered car (one of the requirements set by the unconventional event organisers).
The annual rally – from the Goodwood Motor Circuit, Chichester, United Kingdom, to Ulan Ude, Russia – is unlike any other. The objective is an epic, storytelling journey, rather than a race to the final destination. Teams must also raise at least £1,000 (Dh5,575) for the event charity, Cool Earth, along the way.
Participants are instructed to tackle the journey completely unaided, without the help of a support team or GPS, and by figuring out their own route beforehand.
Needless to say, the effort was far from a breezy Route 66 road trip, and despite their efforts to plan meticulously for every possible scenario beforehand, the Abu Dhabi men took away some harrowing and humorous stories from the unforgettable cross-continents experience.
Of the 17 countries, countless remote villages, untouched deserts, plains and unforgiving terrain they traversed in their second-hand Suzuki Wagon R, all three agree the most difficult crossing was Mongolia.
"We thought Bulgaria was hard, then Turkmenistan came along, replaced by Kazakhstan. None were close to the five days it took us to cross Mongolia," explains Harbidge, 28, who works in mechanical design, and met his teammates through regular Ultimate Frisbee meets in Abu Dhabi.
"At night it was 0°C. Most roads were bog-mud with a river flowing through; otherwise, it was large rocks and cattle. The banks were never open, petrol stations took neither credit cards nor US dollars, and there was no common language besides drawing and hand gestures."
Knapp, a 35-year-old music-education professor, describes the Mongolia crossing in detail. "There are essentially three ways to travel from the western region to Mongolia's capital in Ulaanbaatar. We chose the Central Route.
"It's the route less-travelled, because in many places there are no roads at all or even footpaths, but we only had five days to cross the country, and thought this would be our best chance," he says.
"It was unclear how much of this 1,300km route had been paved. Well, we can now confirm that while it's under heavy construction, probably about 300km is paved; the rest is either vast, open prairie, or miles and miles of road construction and detours.
"What's more, our timing was perfectly terrible," he continues. "In the days before we hit the beginning of the road construction, there was a large rainstorm, and all those hundreds of kilometres of dirt track and dirt piles waiting to be turned into road, had been flooded, and turned into a marsh.
"Our micro car darted across bogs and rivers that Land Cruisers and lorries couldn't manage – at every rough spot, there was at least one truck stuck with mud up to its hood. Every metre required focus from the driver to not get stuck, while the two passengers helped look ahead to find the best route through.
"Whenever we crossed a river, we would roll up our pants – in 2°C weather – and wade in to find the most appropriate path. It was very slow going. One day we woke up very early and drove 14 hours, only to have travelled about 75km by sunset."
The pinnacle of the drama, Knapp says, happened 500km from their next planned stop, Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar, where after a driving miscalculation, they found themselves at an indefinite halt in a river.
"We came up to another river that seemed crossable, decided on the best path, I lined the car up, and drove in. Unfortunately, there was a small dip in the middle, and maybe I also took it a bit too fast, and water came up over the hood and stalled the engine. It was flooded, stuck in the river, and in our limited space, we didn't pack some of the tools for this kind of situation.
"I needed to be on a plane in less than three days, and we all had non-refundable flights," adds Knapp.
Luckily, through hand gestures and sound effects, they were able to communicate with and get the attention of a man fixing a motorcycle at a family yurt they spotted half a kilometre away. The yurt dwellers were quite amused by the spectacle, and crowded the scene; soon enough, Knapp found himself playing Frisbee with the local kids while they waited. "I don't think they had ever seen a Frisbee before – they were totally mesmerised," he says.
Still, the locals failed to resolve the issue, and time was quickly running out.
"Then some guy in a really fancy Lexus SUV rolled up wearing an awesome cowboy hat," continues Knapp. "He was very genial, and spoke a little bit of English. He and a friend got out and started tinkering, they hooked our car up to theirs, and began towing it. Once our car got going fast enough, they cranked it right up, and it worked."
Despite the challenges, the trio agree that the Mongolia leg was also their favourite. "It was all worth it for the scenery and experience," says Harbidge.
Luck, circumstance and huge helpings of patience and perseverance saw Team Anserimates cross the finish line after 33 days on the road.
With further help from their mysterious Lexus-driving aide, who turned out to be a member of Mongolia's parliament, they were able to rush exhaustive border-crossing queues to process their passports and exit forms in the nick of time to catch their flights.
The Suzuki Wagon R, which they found on the second-hand-goods website Gumtree, had taken a beating, but stood up to everything that was thrown at it, too.
The mechanics-savvy Harbidge, who took dune-driving lessons in preparation for the rally terrain, says of the car they nicknamed "Daddy Long Legs": "She did excellently. We only shattered two rear springs, which were repaired for US$30 [Dh110] in Kazakhstan, repaired the wheels seven times, ruined our sump guard – glad we fitted one at the start – had a small interior fire and myriad smaller issues."
"The inside stinks of mildew after being submerged in water a few times. Every surface is covered in either dirt, or reminders and schedules written in permanent marker," adds Knapp.
"Suzuki make a great micro van," says Niswander, a 26-year-old engineering graduate.
As for the modern comforts they struggled without, while Niswander admits to an overpowering desire for something greasy such as stuffed-crust pizza, they all agreed functioning bathrooms and running water were most sorely missed.
"Once we left Baku, there were only squatter outhouses. My quads have never been stronger," jokes Knapp.
So, would they do something like this again?
"Absolutely, but with more time," says Harbidge. "Though tight timing created our tales of hardship, something forever synonymous about this trip for me, I did regret missing the opportunity to pause for a moment and soak it in."
Niswander agrees: "Hospitality is valued so highly in many of the countries we visited, and most of the vivid experiences happened when changing our schedule to accommodate a local."
He says the best bit was "all of it. But really, any of the really beautiful countries. We agreed that Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia were two of our favourites – fantastic outdoor settings and friendly people combined to make our impressions quite positive.
"If I were to do this again, the route would need to be substantially different," adds Niswander, who rewarded his efforts with some leisurely travel through Moscow and St Petersburg. "I would consider doing a similar event in a different part of the world."
As for Knapp, his next adventure is already in the works. "I'd like to do my own version of The Motorcycle Diaries, but on a bicycle. Cycling through South America would be beautiful."
The charity element of the trio's Mongol Rally was that, like all the other teams, they were raising funds for Cool Earth, a non-profit organisation helping to protect rainforests by developing indigenous communities.
Team Anserimates achieved their £1,000 target and more, choosing to also raise funds for the Aga Khan Foundation, which assists communities in East Africa and Central and South Asia through a variety of efforts related to health, education, finance, cultural renewal and development.
To date, they have collected more than £4,500, which will be split equally to aid both organisations, and are still accepting donations. Contribute by visiting uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/anserimates.
Film Review: Cave of the Yellow Dog (2005) Flaunts The Other Side of Mongolia
By Susan Fox, October 1 (So Why Mongolia?) --
Shar Nohoin Tam, or Cave of the Yellow Dog (2005)
Directed by: Byambasuren Davaa
Starring: Urjindorjyn Batchuluun, Buyandulamyn Daramdadi, Batchuluuny Nansal, Batchuluuny Batbayar
It's the story of a young Mongol girl and her puppy. At least that's what Nansal hopes after wandering up a hillside and finding a puppy in a small cave when she is supposed to be keeping an eye on her family's goats and sheep. Back at the ger her father has finished skinning two sheep which had been killed by wolves and is off to town to sell the fleeces. The puppy, named Zochor by Nansal, is to be gone by the time he returns. An unknown dog, even a puppy, found living on its own may have been associating with wolves, which makes it a possible threat to their livestock and times are tough enough already.
"Cave of the Yellow Dog" is a wonderful slice of herder life with the addition of a motorbike and a small wind turbine connected to a battery which provides a little electricity for things like a light bulb in the evening. The film stars a real-life herder family and is full of small everyday touches of custom and tradition, such as making cheese, sewing a del and a group of men exchanging snuff bottles. At one point, Nansal is told the story in the title by an elderly herder woman whose ger she ends up at after getting caught in the rain. The drama of the movie is inherent in the life the family leads, depending as they do on their animals for their livelihood and the fact that children are required to take on real responsibilities at a very young age. The director, Byambasuren Davaa's first film "The Story of the Weeping Camel" explored traditional herder life in the wide expanses of the Gobi. This, her second film, sets the story in the Hangai Mountains of central Mongolia with its mountains, wandering streams and lush grass.
I found it somewhat odd that in a place where more than once the point is made that there are wolves around, that the family doesn't already have a bankhar (the traditional herder's dog with is similar to a Tibetan mastiff) or two. Also that the puppy, probably chosen for personality and trainability, doesn't look much, if at all, like the dogs one generally sees. But these are quibbles based on your reviewer having traveled extensively in the countryside. "Cave of the Yellow Dog", along with its predecessor "The Story of the Weeping Camel" are both films I always recommend to anyone who asks me (ten trips since 2005) "Why Mongolia?"
About Susan Fox
Susan Fox grew up and currently live on the north coast of California. She began her art career working for fifteen years as a sign painter, graphic designer and illustrator, she started to paint full-time in oil in 1997, specializing in animals and the natural world. Her work has been juried into national and regional exhibitions since 2003. Her paintings are available in Mongolia at Mazaalai Art Gallery.
More than just Santa's helpers: Meet the nomadic Mongolian mountain tribe who have depended on REINDEER for thousands of years for food, clothes and transport
· The Tsaatan occupy the subarctic areas in northern Khövsgöl Aimag of Mongolia moving around with the seasons
· They rely heavily on the reindeer using their hair for sewing clothes and their dung for fuelling cooking stoves
· Belgian photographer Pascal Mannaerts spent days horse-riding across the Ulaan taïga to spend ten days with them
October 3 (Daily Mail) It is not only in Lapland that reindeer are treasured as a vital part of life.
In the heart of the Mongolian mountains there is a nomadic tribe of herders who have depended on them for thousands of years.
Belgian photographer Pascal Mannaerts spent days horse-riding across the Ulaan taïga to meet with Tsaatan people and document their unique lifestyle.
The tribe occupy remote subarctic areas in northern Khövsgöl Aimag of Mongolia, moving during the year with the seasons.
Their very existence is entwined with the reindeer, relying on them for milk, cheese and predominantly transportation.
Not only this, but the Tsaatan use the animal's hair for sewing clothes, fashion their antlers into tools and use their dung as fuel for cooking food on stoves.
'The tribe live in very simple tents, which are not large with the whole family residing in each,' Mannaerts told MailOnline Travel.
'The furniture is very basic. There were only two beds for the whole family, a tiny kind of wardrobe, a stove, and that's it.'
Despite their simple existence, the 36-year-old photographer was amazed at their hospitality and the amount of resources they shared with him.
'Getting together with them was an extraordinary return to the quintessential and as a slap in the face, a challenge compared to standards that we have in our cultures,' Mannaerts said.
'I was amazed to see how they were actually truly happy. One night, we asked Bolorma, the mother, what makes her happiest in the world. Without hesitation, she replied that this was her children and her flock.'
Mannaerts spent ten days with the tribe, which is made up of around 40 families. And he learned how their survival is threatened by dwindling numbers of domesticated reindeer.
The lure of urban life has seen many abandon the mountain lifestyle, but Bolorma maintained that she would never move to the Mongolian capital, Ulaan Bataar.
Mannaerts has spent the last ten years travelling around the world with the aim of total immersion in the culture of every region or country he discovers.
This has included working with African asylum seekers in Belgium.
More of his work can be seen on his website.
Link to article (photos, videos)
Experience. Returning from a 19-day tour of Mongolia's most remote areas has left Mengha's Jocelyn Flint awestruck.
She is the woman behind 'Mengha's Back Paddock', a Facebook page which showcases her photographs of country life, widely followed by her fellow community members.
After 'Liking' an online post by travel company, Globetrotters, Jocelyn was told she had won the trip – valued at approximately $6000 – and initially thought it to be a hoax.
Several assurances and a packed bag later, Jocelyn was on her way to her first overseas adventure.
"It was like going back in time, say looking through the eyes of my grandfather," she said of her initial impressions.
"These people, they only had what they made – all their rope was woven out of horse or yak hair . . . it's all handmade. If they need something, grab an axe, cut it, wind it, weave it."
Jocelyn spent the majority of her time in the northern parts of the country, in the province of Khuvsgul Aimag.
"It was really dry heat, sucked all the moisture out . . . I've never been in anything so dry," she said.
Most days were spent riding horses, enjoying the scenery and likely eating mutton or yak's cream.
"Our cook Muugii, she cooked mutton probably 1000 different ways, we had mutton soup, mutton salad . . . I tell you, I don't need sheep for a while," she laughed.
"It was beautiful food. Yak cream – it's rich and beautiful, especially with honey dribbled over it."
The highlight of the trip, alongside three other travellers and her local guides, was visiting the reindeer herders of East Taiga, a community whose lives revolve around the herd.
"We were there for 24 hours, slept in a teepee for a night," Jocelyn said. "I feel so honoured to have visited them . . . It's 100 years behind Circular Head. It's opened my eyes to how selfish and self-centred we are – we're so spoilt here. I can't believe we all live in the same world."
Jocelyn tells the story behind each photo:
6th Floor, NTN Tower
Baga Toiruu, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15170, Mongolia
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