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Monday, August 8, 2016
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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
MATD closed +73% Friday to 3.38 pences. Intraday high 4.12p.
Petro Matad rockets as Shell agrees to US$15mln pay off
Petro Matad will received US$15mln of cash, and will again hold 100% of exploration blocks IV and V.
August 5 (Proactive Investors) Petro Matad Limited (LON:MATD) shares doubled in value on Friday after the Mongolia explorer announced a deal which will see Shell pay out up to US$15mln to the company.
TRQ closed -0.95% Friday to US$3.14, -11.8% for the week
Turquoise Hill Announces Financial Results and Review of Operations for the Second Quarter 2016
VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - August 02, 2016) - Turquoise Hill Resources today announced its financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2016. All figures are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.
· Oyu Tolgoi achieved an excellent safety performance with an All Injury Frequency Rate of 0.13 per 200,000 hours worked for the six months ended June 30, 2016.
· On May 5, 2016, Oyu Tolgoi received the formal notice to proceed for underground development by the boards of Turquoise Hill, Rio Tinto and Oyu Tolgoi LLC.
· As part of the notice to proceed process, the 2016 Oyu Tolgoi Feasibility Study was approved.
· In June 2016, Oyu Tolgoi signed a critical contract with Jacobs Engineering Group to provide engineering, procurement and construction management services for underground development.
· Major contractor mobilization for the sinking of Shafts #2 and #5, underground development, critical construction works and maintenance are all progressing.
· As of June 30, 2016, Oyu Tolgoi had drawn down approximately $4.3 billion of the project finance facility and used all net proceeds to pay down shareholder loans payable to Turquoise Hill.
· Turquoise Hill deposited net project finance funds of approximately $4.2 billion with Rio Tinto in Q2'16.
· Oyu Tolgoi recorded revenue of $329.7 million in Q2'16, a decrease of 22.0% over Q1'16, reflecting mainly lower gold sales volumes.
· Turquoise Hill generated operating cash flow before interest and taxes of $161.6 million during Q2'16.
· For Q2'16, Turquoise Hill reported income from continuing operations attributable to shareholders of $29.8 million.
· In Q2'16, concentrator throughput was broadly consistent with Q1'16; resulting in average throughput of approximately 105,000 tonnes per day for the quarter.
· Copper production in Q2'16 declined 10.3% over Q1'16 reflecting lower grades from reduced mining in Phase 2 and relative lower recovery from Phase 6 ore.
· As expected, gold production in Q2'16 declined approximately 52% over Q1'16, due to lower grades from reduced mining in Phase 2.
· Concentrate volumes sold in Q2'16 increased 6.7% over Q1'16.
· For Q2'16, Oyu Tolgoi's C1 costs were $1.12 per pound of copper and all-in sustaining costs were $1.55 per pound of copper.
· Sales contracts have been signed for essentially all of Oyu Tolgoi's expected 2016 concentrate production.
· Open pit, cash-basis capital expenditure for 2016 (excluding underground expenditure) is now expected to be approximately $200 million.
· Operating cash costs for 2016 are now expected to be $840 million.
· Turquoise Hill's cash and cash equivalents at June 30, 2016 were approximately $1.5 billion.
Preparation for underground development
Prior to suspending underground construction in August 2013, underground lateral development at Hugo North Lift 1 had advanced approximately 16 kilometres off Shaft #1. Approximately 65 kilometres of lateral development is expected to be complete by the first draw bell. A total of approximately 200 kilometres of lateral development are planned over the life of Hugo North Lift 1. The following table outlines the shafts planned for underground development.
(early development and ventilation)
(production and ventilation)
Following the approval of the Underground Plan in May 2015 and the filing of the revised schedules for the statutory feasibility study with the Mongolian Minerals Council in August 2015, pre-start activities began. Pre-start activities included ramp-up of the owners' and engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) teams, detailed engineering and procurement for equipment and materials required for necessary critical works that are key enablers for recommencement of underground development mining activity. In June 2016, Oyu Tolgoi signed a critical contract with Jacobs Engineering Group to provide EPCM services for underground development. Major contractor mobilization for the sinking for Shafts #2 and #5, underground development, critical construction works and maintenance are all progressing. A site infrastructure office has been established as well as project personnel being mobilized. In July 2016, Oyu Tolgoi signed a contract with mining services provider Thiess and Mongolian contractor Khishig Arvin for development of twin declines, incorporating both a service and a conveyor tunnel.
Turquoise Hill's (TRQ) CEO Jeff Tygesen on Q2 2016 Results - Earnings Call Transcript – Seeking Alpha, August 3
New Rio Tinto chief says conditions to remain challenging – Financial Times, August 4 (H1 results)
Oyu Tolgoi Announces Q2'16 Performance Update – Oyu Tolgoi LLC, August 3
Turquoise Hill Resources Given New C$5.00 Price Target at CIBC
August 3 (MarketBeat.com) Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd- (TSE:TRQ) had its target price hoisted by investment analysts at CIBC from C$4.50 to C$5.00 in a report released on Wednesday. CIBC's price objective points to a potential upside of 9.89% from the company's previous close.
A number of other analysts also recently weighed in on TRQ. Royal Bank Of Canada reiterated a "sector perform" rating and set a C$5.00 price target on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a report on Monday, July 18th. Scotiabank reissued a "sector perform" rating and set a C$5.00 price objective on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research report on Tuesday, July 19th.
SouthGobi Resources Announces Second Quarter 2016 Financial Results on August 15, 2016
HONG KONG, CHINA--(Marketwired - Aug. 2, 2016) - The board of directors of SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX:SGQ)(HKSE:1878) (the "Company") will meet on Monday, August 15, 2016 to consider and approve the second quarter 2016 financial results of the Company and its subsidiaries. These financial results will be released on August 15, 2016.
TPO last traded on July 13 at A$0.165
Tian Poh: US$649,896 Convertible Notes Converted to 11.4 Million Shares
August 5 -- Tian Poh Resources Limited (the Company) advises that the holders of convertible notes with a value USD 649,896 have exercised their option to convert their holding in convertible notes into fully paid ordinary shares, resulting in the issue of 11,401,019 shares. The conversion price is A$0.075 per ordinary share.
TerraCom: Finalisation of US$1 Million Placement to Sea Honour
August 8 -- TerraCom Limited (TerraCom or the Company) (ASX: TER) is pleased to announce the finalisation of the US$ 1 million placement to Hong Kong based private investment company Sea Honour Limited (Sea Honour).
The final issue price calculated was $0.0166 (rounded to 4 decimal places) which has resulted in 80,849,502 fully paid ordinary shares to be issued to Sea Honour. The shares will be issued in due course by the Company's share registry provider.
The shares will be issued utilizing the current entity's capacity under listing rule 7.1A.
Mogi: Underwriter was CPS Capital. EUM closed +23.3% Friday to A$0.037
Eumeralla: Underwritten Rights Issue Shortfall Placed
August 5 -- Eumeralla Resources Limited (Eumeralla) is very pleased to announce that further to its ASX announcement dated 11 May 2016, the Company has now completed the allotment and issue of 42,630,359 shares pursuant to the renounceable entitlements issue to shareholders offered under a Prospectus dated 5 April 2016 (the Issue).
This allotment of shares represents the final tranche of shares available under the Issue and the Issue is now closed.
Number of Shares
Shares on Issue Prior to Prospectus
Acceptances pursuant to rights issue
Shortfall issued 5 August 2016
Total Shares on Issue
HAR closed +33.3% Friday to A$0.004
Haranga Resources: Half-Year Financial Report
August 2, Haranga Resources Ltd. (ASX:HAR) --
MSE Weekly Trading Report: Top 20 +0.82%, ALL +0.35%, Turnover ₮91.3 Million Shares
August 5 (MSE) --
Suu JSC's first half net profit doubles from 2015
August 4 (UB Post) Mongolian Stock Exchange-listed Suu LLC presented its half-year financial and operational report to the public, and highlighted that the company's net profit reached 1.6 billion MNT, which was a figure up by 102.5 percent compared to the same period in 2015.
The company says it improved its packaging for yogurt and milk, expanded parking, and mitigated per unit production costs, helping to increase productivity and profit.
In addition to upgrading its operations, the company said it focused on its company governance and stock. Suu LLC divided its shares, which analysts say improved the company's liquidity and market assessment by over 50 percent.
38 MSE Stocks File First Half Financial Reports
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Reds are rates that set a new record at the time
BoM MNT Rates: Friday, August 5 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
BoM issues ₮237.9 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -2% to ₮944.9 billion
August 5 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 237.9 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
BoM sells US$16m at ₮2,103, CNY62.7m at ₮315.55-318.11, accepts $49m MNT, $1.5m USD swap offers
August 4 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid USD and CNY and the BOM sold USD 16.0 million with a single rate of MNT2103.00 and CNY62.7 million with a rate of MNT 315.55-318.11.
Swap and forward trade: The BOM received the bid offers of USD49.0 million and selling bid offers of USD6.5 million swap agreements respectively. The BOM sold USD49.0 million via MNT swap agreement and bought USD1.5 million via USD swap agreement.
Subsidized Mortgage Report: ₮156.3 Billion Issued at 5%, ₮408.6 Billion at 8%, ₮62.2 Billion Transferred to 5%
August 2 (Bank of Mongolia) As of July 29 banks received ₮648.2 billion (₮585.3 billion as of July 1) mortgage requests of 10,558 citizens (9,509 as of June 16), of which ₮156.3 billion (₮138.8 billion as July 1) of 3,291 citizens (2,929 as of July 1) have been approved at 5%, ₮408.6 billion (₮361.9 billion as of July 1) of 6,075 citizens (5,374 as of July 1) at 8%.
Also, ₮62.2 billion mortgages (₮54.2 billion as of July 1) of 1,526 borrowers (1,330 as of July 1) who bought housing in Ulaanbaatar ger area redevelopment zones, satellite districts Baganuur, Bagakhangai, and Nalaikh, new capital housing zones, and 21 aimags have been transferred to 5%.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
'Good Herder' 10% Loan Program: ₮159.2 Billion Requested, ₮147.1 Billion Issued
August 2 (Cover Mongolia) Since the Government of Mongolia launched the "Good Herder" Program in March 15, 2016 the State Bank and Khan Bank has received requests from 40,929 herders for ₮159.2 billion loans at 10% as of July 31, 2016 (36,396 herders for ₮141.2 billion loans as June 16) and ₮147.1 billion loans issued to 38,203 herders (₮130.6 billion loans issued to 33,958 herders as of June 16) have been issued.
Link to BoM update (in Mongolian)
Mongolia Faces a Debt Crisis
The mineral-rich country's prospects were so bright only a few years ago, until the government went on an ill-advised spending spree.
By WILLIAM BIKALES
August 4 (WSJ) That Mongolia could face an external debt crisis seemed inconceivable just a few years ago. The country of three million people is so rich in copper, gold, coal, iron and other mineral resources that some dubbed it the Kuwait of Asia. Yet today Mongolia faces a real risk of becoming the first mineral-rich country to fall prey to the "resource curse" before it even develops its resources.
The crisis traces back to 2012, when a new Mongolian coalition government took office facing extremely favorable economic conditions, including high mineral prices and strong demand from China. Gross domestic product had grown by 17.3% in 2011 and by another 12.3% in 2012, making the country a global leader.
Investment flowed into Mongolia as a result of an agreement with Rio Tinto to develop the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper-and-gold resource in the Gobi Desert. There was also strong interest in the equally massive Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit in that region, along with other coal, iron and copper deposits.
But the new government had won election by making highly populist promises, and this led to a contradictory agenda. On the one hand, the government attempted to renegotiate the already signed Oyu Tolgoi agreement, and in general started seeking better terms from foreign mining firms. This led to a quick drop in investment, growth and revenues. At the same time, the government rapidly expanded spending on housing, government salaries, social welfare and pensions.
The only way the government could finance the resulting large budget deficit was by borrowing. For the first time, Mongolia became a significant global issuer of commercial paper. Between 2012 and June 2016, the government raised $3.6 billion, roughly one-third of GDP, on global bond markets, paying high interest rates. Adding in the swap arrangements with the Chinese central bank and other loan guarantees, Mongolia's external debt position by 2015 became highly precarious, with total debt of more than 70% of GDP.
There was also a massive buildup of domestic debt. In a throwback to the planned-economy era, the banking sector once again became a major financier of government programs. Total loans in the economy doubled in the first two years of the 2012 government's term, and the money supply expanded at an extraordinarily rapid pace. Nonperforming loans began to build up.
The state-owned Development Bank of Mongolia, established in 2011, tapped international bond markets to finance infrastructure projects and other programs whose capacity to generate an adequate financial return was far from clear. At the same time, the central bank launched two large direct-lending initiatives through the commercial banks. A "price support program" offered low-interest loans to businesses, while a subsidized mortgage-lending program propped up Mongolia's real-estate and construction sectors.
As a result, direct central bank claims on commercial banks, which had long been near zero, soared to more than four trillion Mongolian togrog, or more almost $2 billion, by the end of 2013. These programs have been kept off the government's budget, another throwback to the planned-economy days.
By 2014, international financial institutions expressed measured but clear concern about the deteriorating economic situation. The central bank slowed monetary expansion and budgets were tightened somewhat. This coincided with a continued collapse in foreign investment and a steady decline in global mineral prices due to China's slowdown. As a result, Mongolia's growth slowed sharply to 2.3% in 2015 and is likely to be zero or negative in 2016.
But the current economic downturn isn't primarily due to a decline in global commodity prices. It is the result of the government borrowing heavily against future export earnings while taking actions that deferred the day when those exports would materialize. Instead of preparing for an inevitable cyclical downturn in commodity prices, the government took steps that magnified that downturn's impact.
One alarm bell sounded in May when the Mongolian Mining Corporation, a 100% private company with a large stake in the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine, defaulted on the $500 million bond it issued in 2012. Although not unexpected, this default is a harbinger of more trouble to come. In the next two years, Mongolia's cash-strapped government must repay $1.2 billion in commercial debt.
Just two years ago there was still active discussion in Mongolia about creating a sovereign-wealth fund to manage the big foreign-currency surpluses mining would generate. Now the country faces the real possibility of an external debt crisis and sovereign default.
Having borrowed irresponsibly and enjoyed an unsustainable increase in its standard of living, Mongolia has no choice now but to tighten its fiscal belt for the next few years, while encouraging a rebound in sustainable sources of growth. The country must rebuild trust with foreign investors by creating fair and transparent bidding procedures and honoring past contracts, while avoiding the well-known environmental and economic traps that commodity exporters face.
Mongolians elected a new government in June, with a clear mandate to turn the economic situation around. The opportunity is still there, but time is running out. Everyone in the country should be clear that tough steps are needed and the cost of failure could be years of lost growth.
Mr. Bikales is an economist who has advised many Mongolian governments since 1991.
Making Mongolia the 'perfect' country
By B. Khash-Erdene
August 5 (UB Post) I recently saw a short film called "The Perfect Country" produced by The School of Life, a London-based organization dedicated to "developing emotional intelligence", and it got me thinking about the ideal Mongolia.
The video is narrated by the founder of The School of Life, British philosopher Alain de Botton.
"This is a film about the perfect country. It doesn't yet exist and it may never, but thinking about it is no idle daydream. Sketching utopias is a way to address current problems and understand how to solve them," de Botton says at the start of the film. "Focusing on the ideal version of something helps us more clearly define what we feel is wrong with what we have. Utopias bring our plans for reform into focus."
The film's vision of the perfect country isn't perfect; it places certain restrictions on creativity, innovation, and the level of success an individual can attain. But the main point that it drove forward was that countries should work to serve their people, and not abstract political or economic goals. "Realizing the potential of every worker is pretty much the national priority," de Botton says, but I want to say that realizing the potential of every person, rather than the worker, should be a nation's priority.
So often we see countries, including Mongolia, lose sight of their main objective of improving the living conditions of the people by fussing too much over goals for GDP growth and politics, over financial issues that end up doing more harm than good.
A clear example of these misplaced objectives is when Mongolia's GDP grew by 17.5 percent in 2011 but people's livelihoods didn't improve.
GDP growth is a huge indicator of economic conditions, but it is not the sole indicator. The reason why 2011's GDP growth was a hollow achievement is because it was mainly driven by one particular project: the Oyu Tolgoi project. It failed to be inclusive of crucial social sectors such as education and health, it caused the inflation rate to increase by more than 15 percent that year, and it caused a depreciation of the local currency.
Another example of misplaced goals is the squabble over the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine, the world's largest untapped coal reserve. The Tavan Tolgoi project is a potential game changer for the Mongolian economy. Decisions regarding the project have to be made with care, but the endless dispute about the fate of the mine has done more harm than good to the people of Mongolia.
We are still no closer to a solution to the Tavan Tolgoi mining development issue than we were four years ago. Its initial public offering has been delayed several times, to the point where nobody is really sure whether it will ever become public.
The state distributed 10 percent of the ownership of state owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (which owns Tavan Tolgoi) to the public and bought some shares back just before the election. The Tavan Tolgoi issue is a mess. So far, the mine has done society more harm than good, and it's still not certain whether the Mongolian people will reap benefits from the mine's vast coal reserves.
The national priority, therefore, should not revolve around economic achievements, which are only indicators of a country's potential. The people should define what the nation's ultimate goal is, and it is not a better GDP but a better life.
Right now, the MNT exchange rate is plummeting, with one USD equivalent to over 2,100 MNT (the highest exchange rate ever recorded), and one CNY costs 315 MNT. Economists say that when the exchange rate of a country rises, it balances itself out by making the country's exports cheaper and, thereby, more attractive. But what does this mean for the people of Mongolia?
It means that people will have to work harder to earn a decent living, and that they will have plenty of work to do to get there.
Reaching a certain economic target is not a good way to evaluate the success of a country. For me, and in the film by The School of Life – which emphasizes living wisely and well, the success of a country is determined by how happy and satisfied the people of a country are. So, how happy are Mongolians today?
Cabinet forms a council to protect investors' rights
August 5 (UB Post) During its regular meeting held on Wednesday, Cabinet members decided to create a council in charge of protecting the interests and rights of investors, which will operate under the Cabinet Secretariat.
In recent years, Mongolia has been involved in a number of international arbitration cases to resolve disputes with investors. According to a study conducted by World Bank, countries spend around 3.5 years to resolve disputes and spend around three million USD in administrative costs regardless of the court's decision.
The Cabinet reported that the council will work to create pleasant legal conditions for cooperation with investors, prevent potential risk for investors, and help to immediately resolve disputes domestically.
Premier calls for attracting more investment from home and abroad – Montsame, August 4
By Bulgan B & Julian Dierkes
August 2 (Mongolia Focus) Contrary to usual practice to wait to form a new government after a June election until September, the newly-elected Mongolian parliament met in July already to elect a Prime Minister and a cabinet.
Given the resounding MPP victory in the election, it came as no surprise that MPP leader M Enkhbold pushed for an MPP majority government.
The government is led by J Enkhbat as Prime Minister while Enkhbold has been elected speaker of the State Great Khural, perhaps a position to launch a bid for presidency from next year. It thus seems fair to assume that Enkhbold and other MPP officials have considerable authority over the prime ministers and other members of cabinet.
The Erdenebat cabinet has 16 ministers and 13 ministries. Seven ministers were appointed from outside of parliament and nine ministers are MPs (double deel). Only two members of cabinet are women.
Prime Minister (Монгол Улсын Ерөнхий Сайд): J Erdenebat
Trade and Industry Institute, Academy of Administration, Mongolian Univ of Agriculture
Governor of Selenge Aimag 2008-12
Head of the Finance and State Fund Department, Office of the Selenge aimag 2005-2008
Deputy Governor of Selenge Aimag from 2004-2005
Head of the Finance and Economic Policy Coordination Department, Office of Selenge Aimag 2000-2004
Accountant of "Suutei" LLC in Mandal Soum, Selenge aimag 1996-1997
Cabinet Secretary (Хэрэг эрхлэх газрын дарга): MP J Munkhbat (General Secretary of MPP)
National University of Mongolia – political science
Mongolian People's Party General Secretary 2013-2016
Editor-in-Chief of "Mongolyn Unen" newspaper 2011-2013
Deputy chairman of the Standing committee on Political Policy of the Mongolian People's Party 2010-2013
President of the Mongolian Young Generations' Development Association 2008-2010
Secretary General of the Social Democratic Mongolian Youth Association 2005-2007
Deputy Prime Minister (Шадар сайд): U Khurelsukh (MPP)
Defense University of Mongolia (Political Science), Institute of Public Administration and Development (Public Administration), National University of Mongolia (Law)
Deputy Prime Minister 2014-2015
MPP Gen Secretary 2008-2012
Member of Parliament 2000-2008
Minister of National Emergency Agency 2004-06
Minister in charge of Professional Inspections 2006-08
Minister of Justice and Interior Affairs (Хууль зүй дотоод хэргийн сайд): MP S Byambatsogt (former MPP Caucus Leader)
Institute of Economy and Finance and MBA, University of Maastricht in Holland
Member of Parliament 2008-present
President of the "New Progress" Group 2008
Chairman of the Board of Directors of "New Progress" Group 2006-2008
Director of "New Progress" LLC 2000-2006General Director of "Khovdiin Urguu" LLC 1998-2000
Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports (Боловсрол, соёл шинжлэх ухаан, спортын сайд): J Batsuuri
Construction engineer and economist from University in Bratislava and PhD in Economy from Czech Technical University
Member of Parliament 2008-Present
Governor of Dornogovi Aimag 2000-2008
General Director "Us Orchin" LLC 1998-2000
PhD Professor at Czech technical university 1994-1998
Deputy Director of Information Technology School of Technical University 1992-1994
Professor at the Technical University 1987-1992
Professor at Polytechnic Institute and 1983-1987
Minister of Defense (Батлан хамгаалахын сайд): MP B Bat-Erdene (former national wrestling champion)
Graduated with a degree in law from the Military University in 1990
Member of Parliament 2004-Present
Director of "Avraga" Institute of Kinesiology 1999-2004
Sportsman, Deputy director and Director of "Khuch" sports society 1983-2010
Minister of Environment and Tourism (Байгаль орчин, аялал жуулчлалын сайд): MP D Oyunkhorol
Mongolian State Univ of Education, National University of Mongolia (Law)
MP 2000-04, 2008-present
Minister of Environment, Green Development, and Tourism 2014-2015
Minister of Foreign Relations (Гадаад харилцааны сайд): MP Ts Munkh-Orgil
Bachelor degree from Russia in International Relations and LLM, Harvard University
Secretary General of the Mongolian People's Party 2012-2013
Member of Parliament 2004-2012 (Minister of Foreign Affairs 2004-2006 and Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs 2007-2008)
Deputy Minister of the Justice and Internal Affairs 2000-2004
Executive director of "Munkh-Orgil, Idesh, Lynch" LLC 1997-2000
Lawyer in Washington US 1996 – 1997
Third and Second Secretary of Mongolian Permanent Mission of UN 1991-1995
Foreign Ministry Attache 1988-1991
Minister of Finance (Сангийн сайд): MP B Choijilsuren
Graduated with a degree in automation and tele-mechanics from the Urals Higher Polytechnic
Member of Parliament 2008-Present
Deputy Head of the Office of the President 2005
Director of Khurd, Khurd Food, Khurd Invest companies 1995-2005
Director of KAMAN company 1993-1995
Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry (Уул уурхай, хүнд үйлдвэрийн сайд): Ts Dashdorj (former MP)
Drilling technology and engineer degree from the Polytechnic Institute 1990
Member of Parliament 2000-2004; 2008-2012; 2012 to Present
Deputy Minister of Construction and Urban Development 2004-2008
General Direcgtor of "Ikh Temuulel" LLC 1995-2000
Drilling Engineer "Gazriin Tos" LLC 1990-1993
Minister of Labor and Social Protection (Хөдөлмөр, нийгмийн хамгааллын сайд): MP N Nomtoibayar
Graduated from the Valparaiso University of Indiana, USA with the degree in political science and practice business
Member of Parliament 2012 – Present Deputy Minister of Social Protection and Labour 2012
Vice President of Mongolyn Alt LLC 2010-2012
Board of Directors of the Mongolian Economic Research and Competitiveness Center 2010
Central Intelligence Agency 2008-2009
Project manager at Mongolyn Alt LLC 2005-2008
Central Intelligence Authority 2001-2005
Minister of Roads and Transport (Зам, тээврийн хөгжлийн сайд): D Ganbat (CEO of Mongolian Railways)
Graduates as an engineer, mechanics, translation and law from the Military Engineering Institute, ВГЧУ, National University of Mongolia
Member of Parliament 2012 – Present
General Director of "Technic Import" LLC 2004-2012
Chairman of the Boards of Directors of "Technik Import" LLC 1999-2004
Director of the Historical and Cultural Artifact Restoration Authority 1996-1999
Deputy Director of the Russia Mongolia joint "Bayanbulag" LLC 1989-1992
Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry (Хүнс, хөдөө аж ахуй, хөнгөн үйлдвэрийн сайд): P Sergelen (Noyon Suld Group)
Graduated form State University of Pedagogy and Institute of Economy and Finance
General Director of "Buudain Khur" LLC 2010-2014
Director of "Noyon Suld" LLC 1995-2009
Minister of Construction and Urban Development (Барилга, хот байгуулалтын яам): G Munkhbayar
Minister of Energy (Эрчим хүчний сайд): P Gankhuu
Professor at the Institute of Society and Economy 1997
Project advisor to the NUM
Deputy head of the Energy Authority 2009-2012
Senior specialist at the Ministry of Fuel and Energy 2004-2009
Specialist at the Ministry of Infrastructure 2002-2004
Minister of Health (Эрүүл мэндийн сайд): A Tsogtsetseg
Graduated the Medical University and Academy of Management
Director of the Venereal Disease Research Center of Mongolia 2003-2016
Head of Department at the Venereal Disease Research Center of Mongolia 1988-2003
Doctor at the Venereal Disease Research Center of Mongolia 1986-1988
Cabinet approves appointments of 10 deputy ministers
August 4 (UB Post) During Wednesday's regular Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat appointed 10 deputy ministers to the new government's ministries. The new deputy ministers are:
- Deputy Minister of Roads and Transportation B.Tsogtgerel (advisor to the MPP faction in Parliament)
- Deputy Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs B.Enkhbayar (legal advisor to the MPP faction in Parliament)
- Deputy Minister of Finance Kh.Bulgantuya (Secretary of the MPP)
- Deputy Minister of Defense T.Dulamdorj (former Chairman of the National Emergency Management Agency)
- Deputy Minister of Energy T.Gantulga (Secretary of the MPP)
- Deputy Minister of Nature, Environment and Tourism Ts.Batbayar
- Deputy Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry Kh.Badamsuren (Director of Mongolrostsvetmet, former parliamentarian)
- Deputy Minister of Health L.Byambasuren (former Chairman of the State Specialized Inspection Agency)
- Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection B.Mungunchimeg (Secretary of the Social Democracy Mongolian Youth Union)
- Deputy Minister of Education, Culture, Sciences and Sports Yo.Otgonbayar (former parliamentarian)
The Mongolian People's Party proposals to appoint M.Batbayar (architect and former director of the Urban Planning Institute) Deputy Minister of Construction and Urban Development; G.Tenger (former Deputy Foreign Minister) Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Relations; and T.Aubakir (former Chairman of the Federation of Mongolian Democratic Socialist Youth in Bayan-Ulgii Province) Deputy Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry were rejected, leaving the seats empty.
Large-scale dismissal of state secretaries
August 4 (news.mn) On Thursday 4th August, the Mongolian Parliament also known as the State Great Khural approved laws about the structure of the cabinet and also approved the dismissal of some state secretaries of the reformed ministries today. Those dismissed are:
- Ts.Tsengel, State Secretary at the Environment, Green Development and Tourism Ministry,
- J.Bayartsetseg, State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice,
- D.Nyamkhuu, State Secretary Ministry of Industry,
- Sh.Bulga-Erdene, State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science,
- J.Bat-Erdene, State Secretary, Ministry of Roads and Transportation,
- Yu.Idertsogt, State Secretary, Ministry of Labour,
- G.Narangerel, State Secretary at the Ministry of Population Development and Social Welfare,
- N.Ariunbold, State Secretary of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture,
- A.Erdenetuya, State Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Sport.
Some directors of state authorities are also being dismissed. These are:
• Ts.Jadambaa, director at the Information Technology, Post and Telecommunications Authority,
• D.Uuriintuya, director at the Mineral Resources Authority,
• S.Purew, director at the General Authority of Customs and Taxation Authority,
• S.Mendsaikhan, director at the Registration and Statistics Authority,
• G.Ulziiburen, director at the Petroleum Authority,
• A.Khurelshagai, director at the General Administration of Land Affairs, Geodesy and Cartography Authority,
• D.Bayarsaikhan, director at the Social Welfare and Service Authority,
• D.Bold, director at the Citizenship and Migration General Authority,
• Ts.Azbayar, director at the General Authority of Takhar (marshals),
• S.Javkhlanbaatar, director at the General of Invest Mongolia Agency,
• E.Odbayar, director at the National Child Protection Authority.
At the first regular meeting of the new cabinet of Mongolia held on July 27, the members agreed on the limitations for vacancies for government agencies. In accordance with Parliamentary Resolution No. 12, the government of Mongolia has 10 regulatory and 17 implementing agencies. Unless there are other legal provisions, the director of an agency with more than 100 staff will have one deputy, and the director of an agency with less than 100 staff will have none. The General Authority of Takhar (also known as the Office of Marshals abroad) has been terminated and its functions transferred to related agencies. Moreover, the directors of agencies will not hire advisers and will use smaller cars for official use in order to save budget.
• Ts.Tsengel as State Secretary at the Environment and Tourism Ministry
• J.Bat-Erdene as State Secretary at the Roads and Transport Development Ministry,
• L.Amarsanaa as a Mongolian Consul in Irkutsk, Russian Federation.
• T.Ganbold as a Mongolian Consul in Bishkek city of Kyrgyz.
MPs release their income and asset statements
August 5 (news.mn) Yesterday (5th August), all 76 members (100%) of the Great State Khural (Parliament) released statements of their income and assets. Under the Anti-Corruption law, the new MPs must submit their income and asset statements within 30 days to the Independent Authority against Corruption (IACC). On 5th July, the new Mongolian Parliament was sworn in and held its first session. According to the law, MP's income and asset statements must open to the public; so it will be possible to view these on the website http://www.xacxom.iaac.mn.
Cabinet calls for amended Criminal Code to take effect in July 2017
August 4 (UB Post) Cabinet ministers have a reached decision to submit drafts of amendments to the Law on Violations and Criminal Code to Parliament.
The amendments will delay the implementation of the revised laws to July 1, 2017. The most recent amendments to the Criminal Code were previously authorized to take effect on September 1, 2016.
The proposed amendments call for government agencies and institutions to prepare procedures for compliance with the amended laws from now through July 2017.
PM J.Erdenebat: State organizations will purchase national products
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, August 5 (MONTSAME) On August 4, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat, Head of the Cabinet Secretariat J.Munkhbat and Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry P.Sergelen received at the State House the representatives of the agricultural professional unions and NGOs, to have insight into their problems and needs.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister announced that the cabinet has decided and issued direction on banning the state owned organizations from purchasing similar types of goods, which are also produced at home.
The leaders of the Mongolian Meat Union proposed the Government to rely on the capacity of the professional unions in handling certain problems, and criticized that tangible actions are deficient for increasing the meat exports, although it is usually the topic of verbal discussions. They reminded of the importance of meat industry, and that it is necessary to pay as much attention to the industry as paid to mining. Vice President of the Union M.Tumurbaatar emphasized it is important to immediately adopt a law on health of livestock.
Representatives of the professional unions of forestry sounded their opinion about the lack of general policy, governing the field. They also reminded the leaders of government of the brutal impact of mining in reduction of forests.
Construction sector representatives asked the government to attach focus to the ensuring of coherence between industrial sectors. As a result of good coordination between the industrial sectors, a test is now being conducted on exporting inner lining materials for buildings to Japan, they emphasized.
PM issues orders on social welfare and financial programs and policy
August 5 (UB Post) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat assigned his Cabinet ministers with carrying out specific actions to address ongoing issues with the nation's social welfare programs, its low interest housing program, taxation, and monitoring of foreign currency.
The financing allotted from the 2016 state budget for "children's money", 20,000 MNT in state welfare provided monthly to every Mongolian child until the age of 18, has run out and the distribution of the welfare has been suspended. J.Erdenenbat ordered the Finance Minister to study sources of financing to resume distribution, and to present a proposal to Cabinet for the inclusion of financing in the draft of amendments to the 2016 budget.
The Prime Minister assigned the Minister of Construction and Urban Development with providing clarification on ipotek loan matters in order to study options to carry out the housing loan program in a more accessible way and to report on his findings in an upcoming Cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister J.Erdenebat instructed the Justice and Internal Affairs Minister to look into the possibilities of extending payment deadlines for entities that were closed after failing tax inspection, allowing them to pay half of the outstanding amount due and to give them more time to pay.
The Premier also ordered the Justice and Internal Affairs Minister to improve the monitoring of foreign currency, to examine its sources, to freeze wire transfers found to be illegal, and to take legal measures against the owner of illegally gained capital.
J.Erdenebat addressed all the cabinet ministers when ordering them to make the attraction of foreign investment a priority for financing programs and projects, rather than seeking out loans; to promote the purchase of domestic products; to carry out all transactions for merchandise and services from state and private entities in MNT; and to set up strict monitoring within their ministries on the implementation of his orders.
MP Ts.Tsogzolmaa speaks about newly formed cabinet and women's representation in Parliament
August 4 (UB Post) The new ruling party, the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), has set a quota to keep women's inclusion in the cabinet at no less than 25 percent to promote women's representation at decision-making level.
The highest number of women of all time was elected as members of Parliament at the latest parliamentary election, held in late June 2016. In total, 13 women were elected into Parliament, of which, 12 belonged to the Mongolian People's Party and one to the Democratic Party.
MP Ts.Tsogzolmaa was interviewed about the action plan of female parliamentarians and their inclusion in the government's activities.
Former female MPs used to work together under an unofficial parliamentary group. How will new female MPs work this time?
The 2016 parliamentary election ended with favorable results for female MPs compared to previous elections. This time, 13 female candidates were elected. During the election, one political party gained an overwhelming support from the public. In particular, the Mongolian People's Party won 65 seats. Forming such a large group is not good from an ethical perspective.
Newly elected female members agreed to unofficially work as a team on social security issues related to children, women and families. Parliament will soon discuss the MPP's Action Plan and the majority – 60 percent – of the topics included in the government action plan is expected to focus on social security and social welfare policies.
Wages are decreasing and unemployment is increasing at the moment due to economic difficulties in Mongolia. We're facing many challenges because of this. Substantial and accurate measures need to be taken to address them. Above all, the actual situation is the most important thing. It's crucial to determine the current state of economic issues. Female MPs voiced themselves on this matter to newly appointed ministers. Specifically, new statistical data is required for each sector.
We also need to determine the credibility of measuring the current unemployment rate based solely on the number of people registered at the Mongolian Labor Exchange. I mean that people with a certain range of knowledge and financial capability for bus fares would travel to the Mongolian Labor Exchange and register. There are thousands of unemployed people without access to relevant information and those who can't afford the bus fare.
What other challenges are there?
The Election Law specifies that 20 percent of government seats must be given to women. Has the ruling party, the MPP, complied with this requirement?
Female MPs met with the Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister on July 26. What kinds of issues did you cover?
You just said that you requested strict compliance with the gender quota for decision-making and executive positions. Are there enough female personnel for these positions?
The MPP promised to establish a professional government and help the nation overcome economic difficulties. In your opinion, has a government of professionals been formed?
What do you expect from the new government?
T.Ganbold: Erdenet Mining Corporation should be wholly privatized
August 3 (UB Post) In an interview with Udriin Sonin, Director of Altan Dornod Mongol and Director of the Board of the Mongolian Gold Producers Association T.Ganbold spoke about issues concerning the nation's gold sector and the ownership of Erdenet Mining Corporation, which has been at the center of attention since late June.
Gold is one of the major export products of Mongolia. How much gold has been explored so far?
As of the end of July, the gold exploration of domestic companies reached nearly nine tons. This year, Mongol Bank projects that 20 tons of gold will be explored, which would make up around 800 million USD in foreign currency reserves for Mongolia. Last year, Mongolia exploited around 15 tons of gold. Prices for gold are growing higher, which is very good. Because of unstable political situations around the world, people are avoiding long-term investments, making investments in gold instead.
The new cabinet has been formed. What issue do they need to focus on to develop the gold sector and increase the foreign currency reserves of Mongolia?
Over the last three years, former leaders talked about gold financing, which created great expectations. On paper the government says it will invest 256 billion MNT in supporting the gold sector. It is not an additional payment or fee for something. It could be considered an advance payment for delivered gold.
If they give the money to companies which have been consistently delivering gold, they can expand their operations and make additional explorations, which would positively influence increasing the gold supply in the future.
In short, it's an investment without risk. This is an activity with a policy to intensify and increase payment for gold exchange. Unfortunately, this is not being realized in real life.
Gold companies are fulfilling their duties. They are meeting gold supply volume, environmental reclamation, and responsible mining requirements.
Does this mean that gold companies have the potential to increase gold exploration by resolving the financing issues you mentioned before?
It's entirely possible. Starting next year, Mongolia will start repaying its foreign debts. That's why Mongolia needs to support the main export-oriented sectors that are bringing in foreign currency. Gold is the leading sector in bringing foreign currency to Mongolia. Many issues could be resolved by supporting the gold sector.
The 256 billion MNT for gold financing is not a big deal for the economy and the state budget. It's a really small amount in comparison to the responsibility the gold sector is bearing. It means that an advance payment of around 100 million USD will be made to the sector, which generates around 800 million USD.
Actually, the country could even support the gold sector with 400 million USD in financing. Over the last three years, we have supplied 13 to 15 tons of gold every year. This year, we are struggling to deliver 20 tons of gold. I want to say once again that the gold supply will increase with financial support.
People are criticizing the sale of 49 percent of Erdenet Mining Corporation. What's your position on this issue as a businessman?
We all know Erdenet Mining Corporation well. This is the nation's biggest factory and has been driving Mongolia's economy for many years. The factory was the biggest development of socialism. Over the past 26 years, its duty to the nation's economy came first. Not just 49 percent, but it should be wholly privatized.
Why should it be 100 percent privatized?
Everyone has different opinions and tendencies on this issue. When one of the parties wins an election, everything becomes politicized, and leaders conduct some experiments with taxpayer money. It is a reality that they are living in luxury and improving their personal lives.
Erdenet Mining Corporation is a factory that has been bearing all of this burden. The Erdenet factory will have the opportunity to work most efficiently and profitably under one solution. This opportunity will be created once it is fully privatized. There is a mess in society in regards to the 49 percent ownership issue.
But this is a step toward the light. When people want to separate Erdenet from politicians who embezzle from it, have dishonest tendencies, and live in four-year political cycles, they are creating this mess in society.
This is just cheating the public, who don't have enough knowledge and information. In order to leave our children with a society with a proper system and economy, and a healthy environment and market, we need to take such courageous steps.
Members of the Mongolian People's Party have started saying that they will decide what to do with Erdenet Mining Corporation after acquiring 100 percent of its ownership. But in your opinion, Erdenet will work more profitably if the government privatizes its 51 percent stake. Is that right?
Yes. There is one weird system in the state. The state is a mega company consisting of starving politicians who have great power. And then they compete with entities by weaponizing law enforcement organizations. That's why Mongolia's economy is weak.
When the state is pushing such conditions, businesses that are doing their thing start getting involved in politics. In other words, they can't overcome this pressure anymore and choose to enter politics. Many state officials are people who haven't fed people, who haven't worked, borne any risk, or made developments. They just lie and talk nonsense, worsening the country's situation.
Mongolia, new leader in the field of gender equality?
By Apolline Beucher
August 5 (UB Post) Two months ago, on June 1st, Mongolians celebrated Women and Children's Day. This national holiday supposedly spreads awareness of the underlying issues encountered by women and children on a daily basis in Mongolia. With the fall of the USSR, the government went from an authoritarian socialist regime to a parliamentary democracy, thereby securing civic liberties, and in particular, increased considerations for women. A wide range of laws have been enacted since the beginning of the 2000's to protect women from discrimination in education, and in economic and political empowerment. However, even though some major changes have been observed in most social institutions, not all areas of society have embraced gender equality in practice.
Eliminating discrimination is one of the key features of many Mongolian laws and social institutions. In 2012, UNICEF reported that there was no significant rise in incidents of violence against women concerning abuse and exploitation, including trafficking. In November 2012, Mongolia signed entry into the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), leading the country to take on OSCE commitments, including those related to gender equality.
The government had already implemented reforms for gender equality before 2012; measures have been consistently taken to reduce the gap between men and women in all fields of society. The most recent legislation was the 2011 Law on Gender Equality, prohibiting any act of exclusion, restriction, or discrimination in the workplace, as well as in domestic areas. Ensuring that central and local governments, ministries, political parties, and employers would receive penalties for failure to facilitate gender equality, this law triggered controversy but eventually passed. Subsequent legislative amendments introduced a 20 percent quota for female candidates put forward by parties running for seats in Parliament.
As for the domestic arena, the 2002 Law on Land was a major turning point for gender equality, giving woman equal access to owning property, and completing the 16th article of the Constitution; enforcing equal inheritance rights for movable and non-movable property. These efforts to accelerate gender equality have paid off. According to statistics, Mongolia is the leader of equal rights in the Asia-Pacific region. The 2012 Gender Inequality Index published by Social Watch measured the gap in equality between men and women. One hundred points means the country bears no inequality whatsoever. Mongolia scored 81 for its scores in all aspects of society, right behind New-Zealand's score of 82, but way above the Asia-Pacific average of 69. A detailed analysis of this data reveals a low level of discrimination in the family, where the mother is highly respected, and in the distribution of state resources, but Mongolia had medium levels of inequality in integrity and a son bias.
Education is definitely the strong thread running through all social arenas. In 2013, 94 percent of school-age girls were enrolled in primary school, compared to 96 percent of the boys. This gives rise to encouraging results when it comes to the propensity of women to be employed. Also, in 2013, women represented 46 percent of the total labor force, which means the task of taking care of the household has to be shared between two working parents in many cases.
However, in practice, not every field sticks to gender equality, especially in a country undergoing rapid urbanization. The difference between statistics from rural and urban areas is striking. Domestic violence is a serious problem in numerous low-income rural families. The 2005 Law on Domestic Violence is generally not applied in rural areas because of the absence of punishment for non-compliance, and the corruption in police departments makes enforcement of the law in rural areas less reliable.
Moreover, in rural areas, many girls carry the burden of unpaid work, condemning them to stay home. Although the 1992 Family Law established equal parental authority and spousal rights, daily practices still serve men better than women in the domestic arena.
Future laws will be proposed in the coming years, as gender equality has been designated by the UN as a crucial matter, necessary for the world's progress and development.
Five Years of Mongolia Focus
By Julian Dierkes
July 30 (Mongolia Focus) We posted our first blog on July 29, 2011.
The idea to blog grew out of discussions that Mendee, Byamba and I were having almost every day at the office. Social developments in Mongolia, current politics, curious aspects of comparisons, etc., these were all discussions we were having. At some point, we decided that there were not enough discussions of this kind that connected different centres of interest in Mongolia around the world.
At first we were speaking primarily to ourselves, though now accessible to others in our thinking.
We've published a total of 403 posts.
The most read post has been "Corruption in Mongolia according to Transparency International". It has been read nearly 1,500 times.
We've covered a great variety of topics, captured somewhat by this recent tagcloud.
Over these past five years, a total of 79,000 readers have visited our pages. The top ten locations of our readers are: Mongolia (23%), U.S. (20%), Canada (14%), UK (5%), Australia (5%), Germany (3%), Japan (3%), China (2%), South Korea (2%), India (2%).
Interest in the blog obviously parallels broader interest in Mongolia and thus spikes in particular around national elections.
DeFacto: The devil's excrement
By Jargal "DeFacto" Dambadarjaa
August 7 (UB Post) Venezuela is a country located on the northern coast of Latin America, bordering Bolivia, Brazil, and Guyana to the south, and it has a 2,800-km-long coastline with the Caribbean Sea to the north. The country covers a somewhat triangle-shaped territory of 910,000 square kilometers, and has a population of 31 million. Venezuela's GDP per capita has reached 5,000 USD.
Having surpassed Saudi Arabia's proven oil reserves in 2014 (265 million barrels), Venezuela is now the country with the biggest oil reserves in the world (297 million barrels). It is estimated that if Venezuela keeps extracting oil at the same rate as it does today, their reserves will last for 250 years.
Despite being rich in natural resources, Venezuela is now seeing their shops close, while one third of their population is living in poverty. It has become common for people to queue for days to buy food and go home empty-handed. Venezuela gets its food and consumer products almost entirely from imports. It has been a year since they began frequently experiencing power cuts and seeing a shortage of medications in hospitals.
After Bolivia recently opened its borders, Venezuelans began traveling to Bolivia in large numbers to buy food and purchase goods. Some shed tears because they had not had meat, milk, or eggs for months.
All services in Venezuela today have a very long queue. CNN recently reported that people were waiting for a full day at a morgue to have a funeral. The President of Venezuela declared a state of economic emergency and has recently granted enforcement agencies the right to recruit anyone to work in the agricultural sector for up to 120 days.
In 2015, 90 out of every 100,000 people were murdered in Venezuela, which translates into one person becoming a victim of homicide every 21 minutes. With its soaring crime rates, Venezuela has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
IS THIS THE RESOURCE CURSE?
LESSONS FROM VENEZUELA
Mogi: Rest in Peace, Pete!
Peter Morrow, American Who Led Mongolia's Khan Bank Reform, Dies
· Awarded Polar Star medal in 2007 for contributions to Mongolia
· Led team that restructured Khan, now nation's biggest bank
By Michael Kohn
August 6 (Bloomberg) James Peter Morrow, an American banker and financial consultant who led the restructuring of Mongolia's Khan Bank before its privatization, has died, according to NovaTerra LLC, a company he co-founded. He was 68.
Khan Bank brings 21st century banking to Mongolia
August 3 (Enterprise Innovation) With a population of little more than 3.08 million living in a territory covering 1.57 million square kilometers, Mongolia is largely an agricultural and mining economy with 40% of the population living in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. Acting as Central, Bank, the Bank of Mongolia regulates the country's 14 commercial banks, 188 nonbank financial institutions (NBFI), and about 207 savings and credit cooperatives (SCCs). (Mogi: Financial Regulatory Commission regulates NBFIs and SCCs, not BoM)
Mongolia's economy is fairly simple with very few complex things that are happening here. With most of the people living outside the city living in fairly rural communities, livelihood is through herding of animals. Arvind Joshi, chief technology officer at Khan Bank LLC, describes the primary business model from a financial services perspective for the bank is in the area of micro-loans, personal loans, retail loans, simple deposits and retail deposits.
Mongolia's financial services market
Joshi estimates Mongolia's financial system as roughly 15 to 20 years behind that of Singapore and Hong Kong, both in terms of environment and regulation. He says there are very few complex products in the market today, and virtually no complex financial instruments in the market.
"The stock market is very new and if you look at the complex regulatory environment, around securities, trading, dealing, that enforces a lot of compliance. We don't have a lot of that sort of thing in place yet. It is a fairly simple regulatory environment," explains Joshi.
Khan Bank – the people's bank
One of the largest commercial banks in Mongolia, Khan Bank has presence in almost all locations where communities 3,000 people or more live. To date the bank operates 532 branches. With about 2 million customers (roughly two-thirds of the population), he argues that the Bank cannot increase its customer base any further.
Joshi says Khan Bank used to be known as the Agricultural Bank of Mongolia. Back then the idea was to serve small herding communities. He says that model continues even to this day.
"We have been a retail bank, focused on the local community and we continue to have a presence where most banks would say, "hang on, that's not profitable". There is a social commitment which continues to this day in Khan Bank around serving the herders and the small retail communities that are scattered across Mongolia," he adds.
It is this commitment that has enabled the Bank to build an extensive network through which it provides comprehensive banking services to individuals, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and corporate customers.
Khan Bank is a major provider of payment services including salaries, pension and social welfare payments, and remittances. Card services are provided to over one million customers. Continued investment in technology has resulted in access to online banking at all branches, an extensive ATM network covering Ulaanbaatar, aimag capital and major soum centers, as well as nationwide access to internet, mobile and SMS banking.
In addition to a full range of loan and deposit products, the Bank provides foreign exchange, trade finance, cash management and international payment services to its commercial customers: SMEs, corporate, and institutional.
Channels to market
To date Khan Bank has 762 ATMs, half of which are cash dispensing ATMs and the other are recycling ATMs which accepts deposits. They recycle the cash and give it back out as withdrawals.
Khan Bank also operates point-of-sales (POS) terminals. "Year-on-year we see growth of about 50% on the POS terminals as normal rural merchants are plugged into the phone through GPRS box terminals," he adds.
In Mongolia mobile banking is very prevalent with smart phone banking rapidly growing as more customers switch from traditional phones to smartphones. "The more you see smartphone penetration increase, the more they start downloading the apps and start using the apps to do their banking," he observes.
Not everything is growing though. Desktop-based Internet banking used to be popular until about three years ago when smartphone banking started to take root among customers Using IBRS to do simple transactions and checking balances, etc. is absolutely possible.
As is the case with many developing markets the opportunity to expand channel offerings is limited by existing public infrastructure.
He concedes that "not all the utility companies are as well integrated with internet banking because the utility company infrastructure is behind times. They cannot offer services through a pay-your-bill through internet bank. You can't do stuff like with utility companies."
There are subtle differences but in terms of availability of channels and use of channels, there has been a marked shift in the last 5 years. Khan Bank used to do roughly 70% of its transactions through tellers and 30% through ATMs, POS and internet banking, mobile banking, and other channels.
"Today, when I look at the Ulaanbaatar transaction volumes, we are running at 75% – 80% through non-teller channels with roughly 25% are teller transactions. Outside in the rural areas, even there is also a shift of 60% teller and 40% non-teller. It has been a complete change in the way channels have been used versus 5 years ago," elaborates Joshi.
Modest IT structure
According to Joshi 74 people make up the IT team in the capital Ulaanbaatar. An additional 28 people are based in the smaller cities, with about 2 people in every state providing field service and support including fixing local ATMs and desktop, server support for the branches.
With one server room per state, he estimates the Bank maintains 22 server rooms scattered across the country. He describes each as very simple configuration because "outside of Ulaanbaatar, we try to keep it simple."
In explaining this approach, he confirms the Bank doesn't do much processing remotely. "We try to keep it very simple in the rural parts of the country. So obviously the teller has their desktops and people have desktops, there are very few notebooks and laptops around."
Khan Bank's Charter
"Our mandate from a bank's perspective is to become dramatically better at customer service. So if you look across the board at Khan Bank and if you look across to any of our competition, there is a customer service lag. People come into the bank and are uncertain how long the wait is going to before they get serviced," he explains.
The Bank has started to gather statistics to benchmark performance and identify areas for improvement, and better cost-efficiencies.
The focus has shifted from moving people out to moving people into channels to make them more efficient. "Looking at things from a service perspective and how we can dramatically improve customer service and tie these customers to Khan Bank much more efficiently."
Khan Bank may be a privately-held entity but when it comes to treatment of customers, it operates like a state-owned bank. "The agenda is to use technology and measure the performance of how we are using that technology to continuously improve the customer experience through this year and next year," he explains.
Service Management strategy
Joshi sees the use of IT service management (ITSM) as important to improving the bank's competitiveness and compliance. He cites the need for well documented processes, exceptions to process and approvals, etc. as important to the bank.
He believes that to be better as a bank, they had to integrate their customers into the bank's customer service programs and into its products. Key to this is having full visibility of the bank's systems and processes and being able to take action when service interruptions occur.
As the bank expands it channels of engagement, it is important to constantly monitor processes and be able to make appropriate changes when required. He sees ITSM as a means to an end.
"Using external consultants we are doing a deep dive to look into every aspect of our technology operations and starting to recommend some improvements. As that consultant comes back with recommendations, the implementation of those recommendations will take place through an ITSM platform," he adds.
Joshi says that the last few years have been focused on infrastructure, the improvement of IT as well as its performance. "As I look ahead, the challenges are now shifting more to the platform side that is used to service customers, that is used to service business."
Projects on the horizon include a customer relationship platform, rationalizing its channel services to achieve better experience, and further improving compliance with deeper insight into its customers and operations.
Bugat Days 2016 trade fair and investment forum to kick off today
August 5 (UB Post) The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Committee and People's Government of China's Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region are jointly organizing the Bugat Days 2016 trade fair and cooperation and investment forum from August 5 to 7, at Misheel Expo Center.
The trade fair and forum is being organized under China's One Road, One Belt initiative and Open up the North development policy, supporting the development of the Mongolia-China economic corridor. The event is expected to be attended by over 200 representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations and entities from Bugat, Inner Mongolia. The trade fair will feature around 1,500 products from 110 entities representing 16 sectors, including construction, mining, vehicle export and import, food, agriculture, trade, culture, electronics, cashmere, geology, industry, handicrafts, and oil.
From August 12 to 15, another Inner Mongolian product expo will also take place in Ulaanbaatar. During the expo, the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) will organize a China, Mongolia, and Russia business cooperation meeting. The meeting is expected to be attended by around 40 entities from Russia and 80 businesses from Inner Mongolia.
The MNCCI is now conducting registration at their Foreign Relations and Cooperation Department for entities interested in participating in the business meeting to exchange views on cooperation opportunities and to establish new business ties.
IFC VACANCY NOTICE: INVESTMENT OFFICER- ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA
JOB #: 161744
TITLE: INVESTMENT OFFICER
JOB STREAM: INVESTMENT
LOCATION: ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA
CLOSING DATE: 08/16/2016
BACKGROUND / GENERAL DESCRIPTION:
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our six decades of experience to create opportunity where it's needed most. In FY15, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $18 billion, leveraging our capital, expertise and influence to help the private sector end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
As part of the IFC East Asia & Pacific team, IFC Ulaanbaatar office is now looking for an experienced Investment Officer under local hire package to join our current team to develop and execute new business opportunities, as well as manage investment portfolio and local client relationships. The Investment Officer will play an active role in participating in the local office's and the region's business activities, interact directly with our local and global clients, and will work with colleagues from Headquarters, East Asia & Pacific, and other regional offices.
Note: If the selected candidate is a current Bank Group staff member with a Regular or Open-Ended appointment, s/he will retain his/her Regular or Open-Ended appointment. All others will be offered a 3 year term appointment.
DUTIES AND ACCOUNTABILITIES:
IFC and UB City to cooperate in green technologies
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, August 5 (MONTSAME) Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold received Thursday Mr Tuyen D. Nguyen, the Resident Representative of the International Financial Corporation in Mongolia, and Mr Jesse Ang, the program coordinator for East Asia.
The sides designated the desired fields of cooperation, and exchanged views on the introduction of green technologies.
The IFC is a member organization of the World Bank and maintains focus on Public and Private Partnership (PPP).
Mr Nguyen expressed interest in showing technical assistance and consultancy in improving competitiveness of the city, establishing favorable environment for businesses, and creating jobs through promoting small and medium enterprises. He mentioned that the IFC can also consult on the introduction of environmentally friendly technologies.
In response, the Mayor S.Batbold expressed his gratitude to the IFC's cooperation proposal for Ulaanbaatar has been aiming to become a green-city. The IFC, as it is oriented around PPP, should closely work with the Development Corporation of Ulaanbaatar, he said and expressed willingness to expand cooperation into providing the residents of ger-areas with affordable housing apartments, reducing the green-house gas and fog emission and in constructing industrial parks.
Budapest offers EUR 25 million credit to Ulaanbaatar
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, August 5 (MONTSAME) The UB Mayor S.Batbold received today (August 5) Dr Gabor Bagdi, the Deputy Mayor of Budapest in charge of finance. The sides discussed about deepening the cooperation between the cities.
Dr Bagdi handed the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Ulaanbaatar and Budapest, inked last December, to the new Mayor.
A company based in Budapest have commenced negotiations with the Water Supply and Sewerage Authority of Ulaanbaatar on cooperating in improving the distribution of drinking water and renovation of pipelines, during the Hungarian PM's visit to Mongolia in 2015.
The Deputy Mayor of Budapest noted that the negotiations will continue in the form of action, and expressed interest in opening a EUR 25 million credit line to Mongolia.
In the margin of the credit financing, the projects on bus fabrication factory, on construction of floodgate at River Tuul, improving ecosystem, building of recreation centers, and the "Smart Ulaanbaatar" and "Smart Village" programs.
Unwanted Inheritance: The Auto Mall crisis
August 3 (UB Post) A giant car park lies empty and desolate on the western outskirts of the city, while the shabby auto markets in the east of Ulaanbaatar are swarming with buyers and dealers.
One of the biggest headaches the new city authorities have inherited from former Mayor E.Bat-Uul's controversial administration is, without a doubt, the issue of the Auto Mall.
Located at the southern end of Auto Checkpoint No. 22, on the western outskirts of the city, Auto Mall opened late last year in an attempt to alleviate traffic congestion caused by vehicle and auto parts sales operating throughout Ulaanbaatar.
Da Khuree, Uguumur, and other auto markets around Ulaanbaatar were supposed to close their operations by April 1 and businesses were instructed to move to Auto Mall, but not much has changed since the mall opened.
Car dealers complain that last year was particularly bad for business, with many dealers having to sell off their goods for less than what they paid to import them to avoid bankruptcy. But business looked to be thriving at Da Khuree this week, with potential customers flooding the market from every direction.
According to former city administrators, auto markets contribute a great deal to the city's traffic congestion.
Auto Mall was the solution to the ever-present issue, but at the moment, it looks more like another problem.
Car dealers say that the rent at Auto Mall is high and that it is too far away for city residents, and generally bad for business. Former Mayor E.Bat-Uul's administration wanted to raise licensing fees and taxes on car dealers operating inside Ulaanbaatar to push them to move to the new Auto Mall.
The fairness and legality of such action has been questioned by many in the past, with critics saying that if the city administration wants to uphold democratic free market values, it should entice dealers and traders to relocate to Auto Mall with benefits and advantages, rather than coercing and strong-arming existing businesses in the field. I agree with this sentiment.
It is no surprise that the issue has been left unaddressed for so long. With the election taking place this summer, the city's administrators were probably too busy campaigning to spare any attention for the Auto Mall issue.
According to the former administration, the 25 hectare Auto Mall (built to accommodate over 40,000 vehicles) was supposed to lower traffic congestion in the city by more than 20 percent. As of now, Auto Mall hasn't impacted congestion at all. The head of Auto Mall, D.Baidrag, said that all of the necessary connections for vehicle sales and purchases have been resolved at the mall, and space has even been prepared for a railway loading dock for imported cars. "If open sales of auto parts and vehicles isn't stopped within the city, there is no point in improving state services and facilities at the mall," he said. He said that all the state services required for registering vehicles and transferring ownership have already been set up, but the mall doesn't have car dealers operating there.
The idea of Auto Mall is commendable. Building a central complex for all auto trade and services sounds convenient and logical, so why did the plan fail? It's simple: because the state bodies involved in establishing the center failed to listen to or include the proposals and views of those operating in the industry, the car salesmen and auto parts traders.
The city's authorities did not ask business owners if they wanted to move, or give them any options as to which locations they might favor. They simply went ahead and built a great big complex that could potentially house all the auto trading businesses in Ulaanbaatar without consulting the people who were actually supposed to operate businesses there. This is a huge failure on the part of the city.
Now we are left with a large, clean, and open parking lot for trading vehicles and auto parts at a place where nobody wants to do business. There is no logical solution to the problem right now. The city can't just strong-arm businesses to make them move wherever they want if commerce is to thrive in Ulaanbaatar. Business owners and traders need to be given the freedom to operate where they want and to decide how they want to conduct their operations. The only thing the new city authorities can do now to address the issue is to hold discussions with industry representatives and consult with them on the best way to address the issue.
New shopping destination of UB: Shangri-La Mall
August 5 (gogo.mn) The Shangri-La Mall is located at the heart of Ulaanbaatar, a prime location for a wide range of shopping, dining and entertainment. It delivers a relaxed yet world-class shopping experience where you can buy not only world brands but also products of Mongolia. On top of that, the mall offers a variety of fine dining establishments as well as a foodcourt with international cuisines. Featuring an IMAX cinema and children's playground, it is a place where each member of family can enjoy amidst a perfect mix of high-end labels, fast fashion brands and diverse entertainment options all under one roof.
We deliver you the photo reports from the newly opened Shangri-La Mall, Ulaanbaatar.
One`s eyes will attract to Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet and Porsche Cayman GTS when entering to the mall. Here you can visit the Porsche Ulaanbaatar corner.
The first floor has Thann, Mongolian best beauty brand Seaberry, Gumuda concept store, Gobi and Goyo JSC. Also, here you can visit the M.D.U fashion house, established jointlly by MichelAmazonka, Monalun, Queen fashion house and Muse art House.
Note: All tenants offer same prices to the customers as their other branches.
Level 1 has Souvenir House and World Wine branch where you can buy the world`s finest wines or taste them in a cozy atmosphere. Also, this floor offers you art galleries such as Art Space Mongolia and Q Art Gallery as well as bank branches including Capitron and Golomt.
Level 2 offers world famous brands including Dyrberg/Kern, Gerard Darel, Trippen, Geox. Moreover, here you can find the Valiant Art & Interiors LLC, which offers exclusive items produced by famous Italian furniture maker.
The Toy Store Mongolia and Grease salon are operating on Level 2 of Shangri-La Mall, Ulaanbaatar.
Level 3 have Gelato coffee shop, Tea Garden, Ichigo ice-cream corner, an official distirbuter of Samsung brand, gadget shop and Maral, the Mongolian brand produces bags and wallet.
Film posters scheduled to be premiered this year are available at Level 3 allowing people to use them as photo background.
UB`s first and only IMAX theatre located at the Level 4, Shangri-La Mall. Also, here you can visit the game center, Food Park foodcourt with international cuisine which serves with Asian and European food at MNT 3000-20,000.
Adult ticket price of Urgoo IMAX theatre is MNT 15,000 while children ticket price is MNT 12,000 and VIP ticket price is MNT 30,000.
Shangri-La Mall has parking lots for 400 cars at its b1 floor. Parking is charged at the hourly rate and hourly parking rate is MNT 2000.
As of today, following shops, brands and services are available at the mall everyday from 10am to 10pm.
China, Mongolia, Japan, S Korea to take part in 5th Baikal Dialogue forum
Experts will discuss issues of inter-regional and trans-border cooperation, trade-and-economic and scientific and technical cooperation, and problems of special economic zones
ULAN-UDE, August 4. /TASS/. The fifth international forum Baikal Dialogue due to take place on September 15-16 in Ulan-Ude is expected to bring together participants from Russia, China, Japan, Mongolia and South Korea, a spokesman for the organizing committee said on Thursday.
"This year, the forum's main topic will be international and trans-border cooperation in the interests of the development of the Baikal region," the press service of Mikhail Slipenchuk, a member of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house and one of the would-be forum's moderators, said.
Experts will discuss issues of inter-regional and trans-border cooperation, trade-and-economic and scientific and technical cooperation, and problems of special economic zones.
"The program of the forum features B2B 'Contact Exchanges' that will make it possible for Russian companies to establish direct contacts with potential partners from China and Mongolia," the press service said, adding that the Baikal Dialogue also implies active bilateral cooperation between parliaments as well.
Along with Slipenchuk, who is deputy chairman of the State Duma committee on natural resources, nature management and ecology, the forum will be moderated by Russian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Alexander Tsybulsky.
The annual Baikal Dialogue forum is a platform used to discuss economic cooperation and environment security of Russia's Siberia and the Far East, and countries of the Asia Pacific region. Its organizers are the Russian State Duma, the government of Russia's republic of Buryatia and the Russian ministry of economic development. The forum enjoys support from the Metropol Group of Companies and the Baikal Preservation Fund.
Northeast Asian mayors to discuss Urban Green Development and Green Energy Policy today
August 4 (gogo.mn) The Third Annual Forum of Northeast Asian Mayors under topic of Urban Green Development and Green Energy Policy is taking place today at the Tuushin Hotel, Ulaanbaatar.
The first North-East Asian Mayors Forum, initiated by the City Mayor of Ulaanbaatar was held in Ulaanbaatar in 2014. Participants have supported the general plan of developing Ulaanbaatar until 2030, mega projects and innovations as well as the forum was decided to be organized annually with the aim to expand the regional cooperation. According to the decision, North-East Asian Mayors Forum titled "Green City Development" was held in 2015 and joint assignment have issued and delivered to the UN general assembly.
This year, North-East Asian Mayors Forums are discussing green growth of the cities and green energy solutions.
The forum gathered 90 foreign representatives from 20 cities of six countries and 120 domestic representatives including mayors from China, Russia, S.Korea, Japan, Hungary and Turkey, as well as representatives and keynote speakers from international organizations, to exchange their views and practices on urban green development and green energy solutions.
In particular, the Country Representative to Mongolia of the Global Green Growth Institute, Mr John Lyons is to present a GGGI study report and the Deputy Mayor of Manzhouli to talk about the current state of the green growth of the city.
Also, the speeches will be given by the Resdient Coordination of the United Nations to Mongolia and the Country Manager of the UNDP, Ms Beate Trankmann on "Role of Cities in Ensuring Sustainable Development", the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Mongolia, Ms Elizabeth Barsak – on "COP21 against Climate Change", the director of Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission, Mr Lu Yan on "Consistent fight against climate change, creation of first class cities with the power of regional cooperation", and by the Director General of the Climate and Environment Bureau of Busan, Mr Lee Geun-hee on "Green Energy Policy".
Mongolia cancels open registry for Pyongyang ships
Vessels will have hard time navigating seas under North's flag
August 4 (Korea JoongAng Daily) As the international community has increased its pressure on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile provocations, Mongolia was reported to have revoked the right for North Korean ships to operate under its flag.
The Mongolian government cancelled contracts with 14 North Korean ships to operate under its flag of convenience, a system where foreign vessels can register under a third country to skirt stringent regulations imposed on their home country, the Voice of America reported on Wednesday.
Though Mongolia is landlocked, over 400 foreign vessels are registered to sail under its flag. Mongolia detailed the cancellation of the contract in a report submitted to the United Nations on July 8 in compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2270.
The VOA reported that no North Korean vessel has been operating under the Mongolian flag since it submitted this action plan.
Mongolia was one of over 40 countries that have submitted action plans to the United Nations detailing how they are complying with UNSC Resolution 2270, which was adopted unanimously in March in response to Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January and subsequent long-range missile launch.
This resolution has been touted as implementing the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea to cut cash flows into the country, which support its weapons of mass destruction programs.
UN member states were requested to submit reports within 90 days of its adoption detailing how they have implemented the resolution.
"North Korea, if it cannot use the flag of convenience, will have to sail under its own flag," a Korean government official said. "In that case, because of monitoring by the international community, it will be difficult for it to navigate freely."
This is not the first time North Korean vessels and workers have faced setbacks since the passing of Resolution 2270.
In June, China and Russia enforced a ban on the entry of 27 vessels operated by the North Korean company Ocean Maritime Management, blacklisted under the resolution, from entering their ports.
Uganda also outlined in its report that it would cut down on military cooperation with North Korea, which it announced during a bilateral summit with President Park Geun-hye in June. Likewise, Qatar has limited the issuance of new visas to North Korean workers.
Mongolian tank team competes in International Army Games 2016
August 5 (UB Post) Mongolian soldiers are participating in the tank biathlon competition of the International Army Games (IAG) 2016, which began at Moscow's Alabino shooting range on July 30.
The IAG features competitions in 23 disciplines. More than 3,000 soldiers of 121 teams from 19 countries across the world are taking part in the competition, which is monitored by observers from 11 countries. China has sent 22 teams, the largest number of teams sent from a single country this year. Twenty-one teams from Kazakhstan, nine teams from Belarus, six teams from Egypt, and seven teams from Iran are battling in 23 games. As for Mongolia, the Ministry of Defense has sent its best tank crew, which will be utilizing on a yellow T-72B3 tank.
A large number of visitors, including defense ministers from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, have joined the audience. The Russian Ministry of Defense promised that this year the competition will be more dynamic and that the number of targets will increase from five to eight.
The IAG 2016 is the third international army competition that Mongolian soldiers have taken part in. The Mongolian Ministry of Defense considers this a clear indication of good, effective, and friendly cooperation in defense between Mongolia and other nations. The ministry is confident that Mongolian soldiers will succeed in the IAG.
As of Day 2 of the IAG, Mongolia placed seventh in the tank biathlon, with 29 minutes and 31 seconds on the clock, falling nearly six minutes behind the winning team, Russia.
A total of 12 teams will participate in the semi-final races, unlike last year when there were only eight teams heading to the finals. The final round of the tank biathlon will be held on August 13, the closing day of the games.
Mongolia using mental athletics as a nation-building exercise
ULAN BATOR, August 5 (The Globe and Mail) The class starts simply enough, with a teacher discussing the periodic table of elements – hydrogen, lithium, sodium – and sketching the atomic differences between them.
But it quickly takes an unexpected turn. This is not a lesson in chemistry. It's a lesson in committing scientific fundamentals to memory, part of a unique experiment in Mongolia to build national intelligence by training youth to become human computers.
Behind it is a man with a unique, if debatable vision – that to propel this small, middle-income country to petro-state-style riches, its children need to learn the skills required to instantly recall the makeup of Earth's elements.
"We can remember this," Baasandorj, the class teacher, tells the two dozen students, as he points to the periodic table on a whiteboard. "Everything: The letters, the numbers and the sequences, which element is where."
He quickly travels down the first column turning letters and numbers into vivid images that help things stick in their minds. The more outrageous, the better. Hydrogen gets a story about a bank building that's running in the street holding a pole and looking to kill wild game. The visual shortcuts in that story offer a way to remember the name of the element, its atomic number and its atomic mass.
Then Baasandorj, who like many Mongolians goes by one name, erases the whiteboard. He tells the students, some of them just 11 years old, to write the first column onto a blank sheet from memory. There are virtually no errors.
As the one-hour class finishes, he tells them what they will do next time: memorize the entire periodic table.
In any other classroom, such a demand might seem impossible. But at the Mongolian Intellectual Academy, students routinely perform seemingly super-human feats, reading at 1,500 words per minute, mentally adding together long strings of numbers, rapidly multiplying eight-digit numbers without a calculator and flawlessly memorizing the order of a deck of cards – the discipline's 100-metre dash – in barely 20 seconds.
They have made their sprawling and little-developed country, home to one of the world's last nomadic cultures, into an unlikely titan in the obscure world of mental athletics, a field that includes speed-memorizing and other cognitive triumphs. In the most recent world memory statistics, nine of the top 50 people are Mongolian. Only China, with 14, has more. The United States has just three; Germany has eight.
Among junior competitors, eight of the top 10 worldwide today are Mongolian.
Their godfather is Khatanbaatar, the fast-talking force behind the Mongolian Intellectual Academy, who first encountered competitive memorizing while watching the news at law school in Turkey.
What bowled him over was a line at the end of the report: "'Anybody can do it; it's just a technique and a method.' That one sentence changed my life," he said.
Learn to remember, and law exams would be a breeze, he figured.
He dashed off to an Internet café and fell headlong into an obsession. When he exhausted what he could learn online, he began training under Melik Duyar, the co-founder of the Memoriad games held every four years – synchronized with the Olympics – and the closest thing memorizing has to a global star.
Khatanbaatar returned to Mongolia, but quickly abandoned law. It had become a distraction from burnishing memory techniques, for himself and others.
"I thought – there are many Mongolian kids who have hidden talents. I wanted to reach out to them and develop all those kids," he said. In 2009, he began pitching his services. By 2011, he held Mongolia's first national memory championships.
Now, he estimates he has trained more than 15,000 people in different mental sports, some as old as 70.
He attributes the prowess of Mongolian memorizers to a "natural gift" as quick learners, perhaps a product of life on the steppe, where nimble thinking helped people survive wickedly cold winters. Nomads also had incentive to commit to memory rather than use paper that would be heavy and cumbersome to move. Even today, many herders can visually differentiate hundreds of their own animals from those belonging to neighbouring families without relying on tags or brands.
Now, Khatanbaatar says it's time to build that skill into modern savvy. Convinced memory techniques hold the key to overcoming Mongolia's struggling academic performance, he has begun rewriting the entire national curriculum to incorporate those methods.
This fall, he will open a primary school, with plans to open a middle and a high school, too, in coming years. He has already experimented with young children, teaching multiplication tables to five-year-olds.
What he wants is convincing proof that his methods are effective.
"My goal is to eventually introduce this system to the whole national schooling system," he said.
"The eventual dream would be to change this country, to develop it. We have a population of only three million. I want to make it as prosperous a nation as maybe the United Arab Emirates. I want Mongolians to be world leaders."
In schools, at least, the need for change is obvious.
The rigours of a Soviet education system collapsed with the Soviet Union. In the years that followed, Mongolian leaders first worked to rebuild political and economic systems.
In the past decade, in an effort to modernize education, the country expanded mandatory education to 12 years. High-school enrolment has risen from just over 60 per cent in 1996 to more than 90 per cent in 2011.
But authorities have struggled to teach effectively. In 2014, the World Bank warned about "alarmingly low performance" among Mongolian students.
Enter Khatanbaatar and his plan to build modernity through memory. The raw material is there: Several IQ rankings have placed Mongolians in the top 10 among nations.
"We need to innovate education in Mongolia," he said.
Of course, his argument assumes a person who is better at memorizing is also better at other tasks, like thinking creatively or drawing meaning from data.
But are quick-recall skills useful for anything beyond counting cards or nerdy parlour tricks?
The ancient Greeks thought so: Today's mnemonic techniques date back to fifth-century B.C., a time when the printed word was scarce and therefore to remember was also, for many, to know.
Does that still make any sense in an age when all the world's knowledge can zip instantaneously into your hand?
"Memorization applies to only small parts of the curriculum," like rapidly acquiring foreign language vocabulary lists or simplifying some mathematical operations, said Robert Slavin, director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University, and the author of an educational psychology textbook with a section on memory strategies.
"It is difficult to see how the main goals of education, such as reading comprehension, math problem solving, science concepts, or writing clearly and effectively would be enhanced by memorization," he said.
"I have never seen such an effect demonstrated or even suggested."
The parents who bring their kids to Khatanbaatar's academy are, however, convinced.
Batkhishig's six-year-old daughter started memory studies in kindergarten. Now in first grade, "she's one of the top students in her school. She is really good at math and she is very fast," he said. Batkhishig is not a rich man: He sells clothes imported from Turkey at a market stall. But he is keen to send his daughter to Khatanbaatar's school when it opens.
That school, if nothing else, will provide a sizable test of whether memorizing has a classroom benefit.
For Mongolia, however, it's already paid other dividends. The country's heroes have long been its wrestlers. Now, its master memorizers are the ones trouncing rivals.
In early March, Mongolian memory champion Enkhmunkh, 17, was invited to appear on Super Brain, a Chinese game show whose tasks include looking at a matrix of 225 numbers for 1.5 seconds – and then locating a single digit.
The Chinese contestant had already won several times.
But Enkhmunkh and a team of other international contestants beat her. He returned to huge cheering at home.
"A representative of a nation of only three million won over someone from a population of 1.3 billion," Enkhmunkh said.
"People said, 'we are proud of our Mongolian son, who actually beat a Chinese master.'"
Canberra College's Egshiglen Chuluunhuu returns from world debating contest with third
August 7 (The Canberra Times) A Canberra College debating star has returned to Australia after helping the country reach third at the world championships in Germany.
Egshiglen "Eggy" Chuluunhuu and the rest of the Australian debating team ranked third, behind Canada and England, at the World School Debating Championship in Stuttgart.
Fifty-six countries registered for the competition, with Australia making it all the way to the semi-finals and continuing a history of strong performances at the debating championships.
Eggy said the journey offered her access to even broader perspectives than she regularly discovered during debating.
She said discussing topics such as United States foreign policy under President Barack Obama and whether or not a country's history classes should have a nationalist perspective was enlightening.
"It was great meeting other people from other countries that genuinely had different perspectives to you," she said.
"I was able to have these genuinely cool conversations, whether it was about Obama's foreign policy or perhaps Beyonce's new album, that was the best part of the experience."
Spending time with teammates was another important part of the championship, with little time to train together before taking to the stage.
Eggy said the Australian team members had bonded as friends during their time in Germany, despite having come together from different parts of the country.
The students also spent an evening exhibiting Tim Tams and Vegemite to their competitors, while learning about other countries at an international exchange fair.
Eggy plans to join her university's debating team when she graduates from college, but in the meantime would like to mentor and help train other aspiring debaters in the craft.
First, she needs to complete her International Baccalaureate and ACT Senior Secondary Certificate, while continuing her work with the college's Interact Club and the Red Cross.
"All I could feel towards the end of the tournament was immense gratitude for everyone who put effort into getting me that far and it gave me an enhanced feeling of wanting to help other people get into debating," she said.
"I definitely want to do training for anyone else who would like to get involved."
PMI Mongolia: "Project Time Management" Training Course – Registration Deadline August 8
We are announcing our intermediate level one day course on "Project Time Management" that will be held from 10:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday, 20th August, 2016 at Galaxy Tower, 10th Floor, Conference Room, Executive Excellence Business Center.
Registration deadline is 6 pm, on Monday, 8th August, 2016
For more detailed information about one day course on "Project Time Management", please CLICK HERE.
Course fee: MNT 100.000 for PMI Mongolia Chapter members
MNT 150.000 for non-members
The cost includes daily coffee breaks plus lunch.
Payment must be made before the due date: 8th August, 2016.
Any inquiries about PMI Mongolia Chapter bank account or invoicing details can be clarified by emailing to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that you need to bring with you laptop, paper and pen.
If you have any questions related to training course issues, please send your request by emailing to the following address: email@example.com.
MIT Global Startup Labs – Mongolia: Demo Day, August 11
August 7 (UB Post) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Global Startup Labs – Mongolia will hold Demo Day 2016 at IT Park on August 11.
Book Discussion on 'Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics', August 9
August 7 (UB Post) Monbook Club will hold its next book discussion on August 9 at CODE Patisserie & Plus. "Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics" by professor Richard Thaler will be discussed at the event.
A cool gift: China gives air-conditioners to Mongolian hospitals
August 5 (news.mn) The Mongolian Health Ministry has received 60 air-conditioners, which have been given as aid for hospitals from the Government of China. These air-conditioners will be distributed to 30 hospitals today (5th August). The air-conditioners are much needed for intensive care units and hospital laboratories. The overall value of the much needed air-conditioners is MNT 73 million.
Moth invasion hits Mongolia
August 4 (UB Post) Mongolia has been exposed to a massive influx of silk moths this year due to the recent vast wildfires that occurred in Siberia. Biologists and officials have issued an alert and advised everyone in the country to assist in exterminating moths to prevent the spread of various diseases and allergies.
Mongolians will have to cope with the sight of silk moths for another month until the flight activity of the moths end in September 1, says B.Ganzorig, the Head of the Forest Conservation, Breeding and Rehabilitation Department of the Forest Research and Development Center of Mongolia.
The peak influx is expected to continue for 10 days in mid-August. After that, female moths will start hatching eggs, their flight activity will lessen, and soon, they will migrate and colonize other habitats, according to experts.
A national survey conducted by the Forest Research and Development Center shows that Siberian silk moths and diamondback moths have settled in an area stretching 760,000 hectares throughout 85 soums and 15 provinces in Mongolia. Researchers say it's essential to fight and exterminate moths in at least 560,000 hectares of area in 75 soums. Around 50 to 60 percent of these moths have been identified to be webbing moths, commonly referred as white moths.
Researchers describe the species as a "super pest" because it is resistant to many insecticides.
Extermination operation has been scheduled for Batsumber soum of Tuv Province and Teshig soum in Bulgan Province as researchers have found that the moths could "devastate" cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli and other vegetables across the country.
The closest infestation areas to Ulaanbaatar is Batsumber soum in Tuv Province, which border with the green zone of Ulaanbaatar, and forests in Khonin Nuya and Tunkhel towns of Mandal soum in Selenge Province, noted B.Ganzorig.
The following are government recommendations for exterminating moths.
Residents are advised to destroy moths gathered around their home and work using any means necessary. Silk moths have a life span of one year but can be very dangerous if the infestations gets out of control.
- Moths are attracted to light
- Are most active at night between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.
- Causes fine particles to spread through the air when gathered in large numbers
Advice for silk moth extermination:
– Wear protective gloves
– Wear a mask
– Prepare a trash bag to throw away dead moths
– Wear clothes that are resistant to fine particles
– Put large infestation of moths into a trash bag with shovel
– Dig a hole in the ground to bury the trash bag with moths inside
– Cover the hole with rocks or soil
The size of the hole depends on the size of the trash bag. The hole needs to be at least 20 to 30 cm deep.
Breastfeeding Across the World: Celebrating Mother's Milk in Mongolia
August 1 (American Center for Mongolian Studies) Following a brutally cold winter, the first March day that the temperature broke freezing, Mongolians rejoiced by spending the day outdoors. Young mothers lounged outside at the local ski resort, breastfeeding bundled babies while their older children played on the slopes.
What may surprise Americans most is that in Mongolia, breast milk is not only imbibed by children. It is not uncommon for a woman to leave a cup of extra breast milk out for her partner to drink with breakfast. Consumption also does not stay within the nuclear family; some mothers laughingly describe not being able to leave their milk in shared workplace refrigerators because male coworkers will drink it out of a belief that it will make them strong. There is a common saying here that the best wrestlers were breastfed for at least six years (Kamnitzer, 2009).
A belief in the strengthening powers of breast milk isn't a uniquely Mongolian belief. In the United States, there is a recent trend among some athletes to drink it to boost their energy during workouts (Chavie, 2014). Additionally, some patients undergoing chemotherapy or otherwise battling illness believe that this natural-given liquid has healing powers. However, doctors argue that human milk isn't for adult consumption and that any cited benefits that users are experiencing are likely due to a placebo effect (Firger, 2015).
While Americans adults are not likely to start drinking breast milk any time soon—and they probably shouldn't—we would do well to take a page out of Mongolia's book when it comes to destigmatizing public breastfeeding. As my young Mongolian neighbor says, "I just don't understand the issue. Breasts exist to feed children. What is shameful about that?"
Mongolian traditional medicine
By Nomin Galsandorj
August 3 (UB Post) Traditional systems of medicine in countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Tibet, and Mongolia appear to be derived from Ayurveda. In Indian, Tibetan, and Mongolian traditional medicine, the mind, emotions, and body are not seen as separate but as a continuum. A person's emotional and mental states are seen as having a significant impact on the body and vice versa. Mongolian, Tibetan, and Indian traditional medicine use a number of modalities or therapies for both prevention and treatment of disease. Many medicinal herbs are usually used in combination.
Mongolia has a severe climate with four seasons, throughout which nomadic Mongolians move from place to place tending to their domesticated animals. Their way of life and medical treatments are very peculiar. The methods of medical treatment are derived from their simple lives. Medicinal herbs, the limbs of animals, and minerals are used as natural forms of medical treatment. They are sometimes used individually and sometimes used together for
medicinal purposes. Mongolians combine medicine with psychological therapy and use sayings, such as mantras, shamanic charms, and prophecy. There are certain influences of Buddhism in Mongolian medical treatment, such as the use of spells and the stating of one's requests and mantra expressions.
In the 4th and 5th centuries, monks of Tibet, Nepal, and China were studying Buddhism in India, and it provided the opportunity for Buddhism to spread in Tibet. Medical books from India were translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan. When Mongolia tried to make Buddhism the official religion in the 13th century, Indian and Tibetan medical books came to Mongolia as well.
The book "Four Tantras" (Jud Shi) was written in the 11th century, a classic creation of Indian and Tibetan medicine. "Jud Shi" was the main textbook of Mongolian doctors when it arrived in the 14th century. In Mongolia, it was read in Tibetan and was also translated into Mongolian. The Mongolian version has been published many times. German scholar Walther Heissig wrote that Choiji Odser translated "Jud Shi" in the 14th century, and during Ligden Khan's time (1604-1634), "Jud Shi" was revised and re-translated.
The five elements theory of Indian philosophy started to hold an important position in the basic principles of Mongolian traditional medicine and this is related to the popularity of "Jud Shi" in the 16th century and its translation into Mongolian. "Jud Shi" is the amalgamation of Tibetan and Mongolian medicine and the Indian sutra.
"Jud Shi" has four volumes, identified by tantra:
1. Basic Tantra- The Basic Tantra has four parts and is the basis of the other three tantra volumes. It contains all the general meanings of the Four Tantras and is a basic overview of the theories of Indian and Tibetan medicine.
2. Explanatory Tantra – This tantra has 31 parts. The root of Indian and Tibetan medicinal theory is defined briefly here.
3. Oral Instruction Tantra – This tantra has 92 parts and is the largest part of the book. It describes how diseases and disorders of the body and organ systems are generally understood in Indian and Tibetan medicine.
4. Subsequent Tantra – This tantra has 27 parts and draws conclusions on the therapies in the other 3 volumes.
Nomin Galsandorj is a freelance writer and translator, translating texts from English to Mongolian, including the Dalai Lama's official website. She can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teenage Eagle Hunter Is Mongolia's New Movie Star
By Andrew Lapin
August 4 (National Geographic) A 13-year-old girl stands proud in the mountains of western Mongolia, cradling the eagle she has trained to hunt. She's carrying on a legacy that has defined this region for centuries.
The film was inspired by the viral photographs. Tell me more about that.
Foreign Relations Minister appoints Japanese artists as cultural envoys
August 11 (UB Post) Foreign Relations Minister of Mongolia Ts.Munkh-Orgil has appointed the popular Japanese singer and painter Yashiro Aki and prominent artist Shingetsu Shikandai cultural envoys of Mongolia.
Granting the artists certificates, Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil expressed his hope that the cultural envoys would cooperate with and assist in promoting the unique history and culture of Mongolia in Japan and make contributions to expanding cultural, humanitarian, historic, and sports relations between the two countries.
Yashiro Aki, referred to as the "Song Queen of Japan", performed her popular traditional ballads in Mongolia on July 31. Shingetsu Shikandai, 63, is a remarkable Japanese artist who has displayed his work in Japan, China, the United States, Monaco, Mongolia, and France. He exhibited his artwork in Mongolia in 2014, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of cultural relations between Mongolia and Japan. He began his career as an artist in 1998 and has his own gallery in Japan.
Some 21 cultural envoys of Mongolia are now operating in 11 foreign countries.
420 contortionists set Guinness World Record
August 7 (UB Post) Through the Friendly Ulaanbaatar program, 420 contortionists from provinces and Ulaanbaatar performed "The Myth of Mountains and Rivers" concert at Chinggis Square on August 6 to set a Guinness world record.
State Honored Artist, People's Artist, and contortionist B.Norovsambuu led the 420 contortionists and prepared the performance, which set a Guinness world record for the act involving the most number of contortionists.
Head of the Ulaanbaatar Ensemble R.Munkhsaikhan worked as executive director of the concert.
"The Myth of Mountains and Rivers" continued for 30 minutes. The performance comprised of several parts: Mother, River, Gathering of Snakes, and Queen Alungoo. Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun) also took part in the performance.
Over 420 contortionists of 20 studios participated in the performance, including from the National Circus, Otgoo Studio, X-Roses Studio, Acrobat Center, Ulaanbaatar Ensemble, Shonkhoodoi Circus of Darkhan-Uul Province, Erdenes Circus of Erdenet Province, Sondor Circus of Dundgovi Province, and Dornyn Uyanga of Dornogovi Province.
Even in Mongolia, Trump's a mystery
Letters to the Editor
August 5 (The Fresno Bee) I recently visited Mongolia, where, in a most remote nomadic village, I met an elderly married couple. They had a 9-inch, ancient TV and a small radio both powered by a car battery.
During our visit, the interpreter turned to us, relaying the question posed by the 72-year-old wife, "What's with this guy Trump? How could he become a presidential candidate for your great country?" We were dumbfounded!
ALVIN GREEN, FRESNO
Red Cross steps in as children struggle to cope with impacts of Mongolian Dzud
By Terrence Edwards, IFRC
August 5 (IFRC) Thousands of nomadic herder families in Mongolia lost their entire livelihood last winter after extreme weather conditions (known locally as dzud) killed almost a million livestock. In response to the crisis, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an emergency appeal in March to support the Mongolian Red Cross Society in providing food and other vital necessities to the affected population.
As part of the emergency operation, the Red Cross has been conducting psychosocial support sessions with herder children living in school dormitories.
"Many herder children are deeply worried about the situation of their families and are in serious need of reassurance that they will be alright," said Enkhjin Garid, the IFRC Programme Coordinator in Mongolia. "Some of the children are very shy and it has not been easy for them to share their feelings. The goal of the Red Cross volunteers is to help them deal with these anxieties."
Red Cross volunteers and teachers from different schools received special psychosocial support training in cooperation with the international NGO, Save the Children. The aim is to reach 5,000 school children - already 1,725 schoolchildren all over the country have received support.
In Uvs Province 160 students from seventh to tenth grade received support from Red Cross volunteers.
"One of the most important goals is to show children how they can help when they come home from school," said Erkhembayar Dulamsuren, Red Cross Branch Secretary in Uvs Province, emphasizing the importance of making children feel like active and valuable contributors to their families rather than a burden on their hard-working parents.
Children in Mongolia's traditional herding households have no choice but to grow up fast. They take part in the hard work that is necessary for survival in one of the coldest areas of the world. They often carry heavy responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning and helping to raise their younger siblings.
"The dzud has been really hard on my kids," said Mongolian herder, G. Amartuvshin. For several weeks his son and two daughters experienced first-hand the trauma of seeing their livestock perish from cold and starvation.
"I made them work so hard when we were trying to save the animals. It was a very difficult choice, because although our family needs the animals to be able to survive, what is best for the children should always come first," said Amartuvshin.
"I knew my family was looking for food. We needed more hay and fodder. We needed more groceries," said Dashnyam, Amartuushin's 13-year-old son, who lives in the dorm in the Sagil Soum elementary school. The psychosocial support sessions helped him think of ways he could support his family during the winter. "I learned that even the smallest favour can be a big gesture to my parents," he said.
To help the children deal with all the stress and worries brought by the dzud, the Red Cross funded a project to transform a dilapidated room into a space where the children could feel safe to talk with Red Cross volunteers about their desperate situation. The room also provided a play-area where the children could keep their minds off family troubles.
"We did all the repairs ourselves," said Kh Naranjilmaa, the principal of Sagil Soum primary school. "The project has helped our children so much and the new facility has provided us with a space where we can also concentrate on promoting humanitarian values."
Dzuds are not a new problem, but the herders in Uvs province realize that the extreme winter weather is becoming more frequent along with desertification, storms and other ill effects of climate change. One of the priorities for the Red Cross in Mongolia is to equip children with the life skills needed to cope with disaster and build their confidence so that they can adapt to the changing environment and sustain this ancient livelihood that is central to the Mongolian identity.
The vanishing lakes of Sukhbaatar Province
August 4 (news.mn) According to the Land Survey, there are more than 52 rivers, 300 springs and 120 lakes in Sukhbaatar Province. However, in the 2014 survey three rivers, over 30 lakes and ponds as well as 50 springlets have vanished - they have been drained. According to the director of the department of the environment and tourism for Sukhbaatar Province, 'Humans are more responsible for this than climate change'. Baruun-Urt river is one of the most visited place in Sukhbaatar. However, because of tourism there are now serious pollution problems.
Wrestling: Mongolian women grapple with tradition
August 2 (AFP) Mongolia's freestyle women wrestlers hope to take gold in Rio. But they are forbidden from participating in their country's own traditional grappling festivals.
Women can compete in only two of the three "manly games" at the nomadic country's annual naadam celebrations — archery and horse-riding — and are barred from testing their takedowns against men.
Wrestling is a national obsession in the country, and the contests' winners are feted as heroes, often winning big corporate sponsorships and even turning their hip throws into political careers.
"It is easier for men to be a wrestler in Mongolia. Women have to be mentally tougher. No one is surprised when guys fight with each other," said 26-year-old Olympian Soronzonboldyn Battsetseg, a child of nomads who grew up wrestling boys on the country's grassy steppes.
Her life was transformed when she won the 63kg bronze at London 2012 — the country's first Olympic wrestling medal since 1980.
Now her smile graces billboards in Ulan Bator. "When I go home, people treat me like I'm the president," the soft-spoken athlete told AFP. "Everybody recognises me."
Mongolian wrestling has no weight classes, and competitors win by throwing their opponent to the ground, rather than pinning them as in the Olympic version.
But even with two world championship golds and a silver under her belt, Battsetseg does not believe women will ever be allowed to compete in naadam.
"I don't expect it," she said, adding that she was more focused on defeating her opponents in Rio than grappling with Mongolia's traditional culture.
– 'Holy place' –
Battsetseg first saw women wrestling on TV in a hospital where she was recovering from a childhood operation. She immediately knew it was what she wanted to do.
"The women were so strong and beautiful," she said, sitting on the grass at the women's Olympic training facility in Bayanchandmani, an hour's drive from Ulan Bator's distractions and bad air.
Every Mongolian child knows the story of Khutulun, the 13th century princess who refused to marry any man who could not defeat her in combat. Her story was brought to the West by the Italian explorer Marco Polo and later became the inspiration for the Puccini opera Turandot.
Since that time, women have been banned from traditional Mongolian wrestling events, where participants wear a revealing, open-chested uniform said to be meant to keep women from sneaking into the contests.
But even with a historical precedent, female grapplers faced strong opposition in the sport's early years.
"Compared to when the sport started in Mongolia, it's much more accepted today," said Tumendembereliin Sukhbaatar, one of the training centre's coaches — who are all male. "The women don't face the same hardships."
When he started training Mongolian women in freestyle wrestling in 2000, he could not find a gym that would accept his students: "The men thought that the mat is a holy place and that woman should not be allowed because they are impure," he said.
But, he was undeterred. "My younger sister used to beat me up all the time, so I understood the potential for women's wrestling in Mongolia," he said with a laugh.
A double 48kg world championship silver medallist himself, Sukhbaatar sold his apartment to finance his first students' careers, using the money to take them to international competitions.
Things started to change in 2004, when women's wrestling made its Olympic debut in Athens, and the following year Tsogtbazaryn Enkhjargal won a 48kg bronze at the world championships in Budapest, making her a national heroine.
"Nowadays, the situation is way better than when I started," she told AFP.
"Many people said women must not wrestle, and opposed me. But, my talent pushed me to wrestle and I thought that I can be successful. I didn't think about stopping… even once."
When Sukhbaatar sold his apartment, people called him a fool, he said. Now they praise him as a visionary: "If you're a wrestler, you have a lifetime ticket," he laughed.'
– 'We might beat them' –
With only three million people, Mongolia is an unlikely power in any sporting discipline.
Battsetseg credits the country's long tradition of horse-riding that builds strong legs and waists. Her coaches point to the fatty lamb tail eaten with enormous helpings of boiled, pasture-raised mutton after daily training sessions.
But one thing the programme is still missing is women trainers, Enkhjargal said.
"We desperately need female coaches who are able to understand women's physical and mental conditions," she said.
The team are used to being surrounded by men. At the training centre they test their skills against male competitors on a daily basis, and say they all grew up beating their brothers at traditional Mongolian wrestling.
That might be the real reason men do not want them in naadam, Battsetseg's team-mate Purevdorjiin Orkhon hinted: "We might beat them."
"Mongol Queen" Poised to Repeat in Rio
August 6 (FloWrestling) --
Hammer: Soronzonbold Battsetseg
Mongolia's Battsetseg is one of the best wrestlers in the world that not many people know about. She's won two world titles at two different weight classes and she has dragged Mongolian women's wrestling into a the light of relevance. Battsetseg sports pigtails during competition, they're adorable. They look like fireworks going off on the side of her head, but please don't let the cuteness of the way that she wears her hair confuse you, she's as tough as they come.
2010 World Champion
2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist
2013 World Silver Medalist
2015 World Champion
Battsetseg's 2015 world title run got more impressive round by round. She tech falled everyone in her bracket and then went on to pin two time defending world champion, Risako Kawai, in less than a minute. One of the things that stood out to me most is how composed she is while wrestling. In Battsetseg's quarter final she was wrestling a young lady that was obviously leading with her head. Battsetseg took a few shots to the mouth and then she got smart and hit her with an impressive arm spin for a takedown. This one of very few difficulties that she faced on her way to world gold last year in Vegas.
Tough Tough Tough
Can become overly aggressive
Life on the Mongolian Steppe is pretty harsh. It has produced some of the toughest humans in history. Battsetseg is no exception. Her hands are heavy, not heavy for a girl, heavy. When she clubs she means to move you. Brutality is not the only aspect of her game though, her technique is extremely well rounded. She can score from short offense with a solid knee pick. She can wrestle from the outside for a blast double. Her hips are just as heavy as her hands when defending a leg attack. She can gut to both sides, and do it well. And, if the opportunity presents itself she can rip off an arm spin like she did against the young lady from Latvia in the quarters.
Battsetseg is a real contender for gold in Rio, she also inspires a great story. So much so that United World Wrestling decided to do a documentary on her and what she's done for Mongolian wrestling. The doc goes on to explain the social implications of being a female wrestler in nomadic culture and Mongolia in particular. Anyone looking to knock Battsetsg off her throne is in for a war. She has made it clear that she is taking every Mongolian female onto the mat with her in Rio.
Battsetseg: Mongol Queen (Full Movie)
July 27 (United World Wrestling) "Battsetseg: Mongol Queen" is United World Wrestling's first-ever documentary and features the incredible life story of Soronzonbold Battsetseg, the two-time world champion from Mongolia whose life journey was made possible by wrestling and the Olympic movement.
17 best Parade of Nations outfits from the Opening Ceremony
August 6 (For the Win, USA Today) When you're trying to stand out among 200+ countries, you can't be drab. (Looking at you, Germany.) You can't do the expected or go with boring colors and designs. You need to pay homage to your country while also looking stylish and keeping athletes' comfort in mind. With those qualities in mind, here are the best parade of nations outfits, in no particular order.
Bright, colorful, and a touch of amazing design on the women's skirts.
S.Batjargal wins silver medal at East Asian Muay Thai Championships
August 3 (UB Post) Mongolian Muay Thai fighter S.Batjargal has won a silver medal in the 67 kg event of East Asian Muay Thai Championships, which took place in Hong Kong from July 28 to 31.
He defeated fighters from Hong Kong and Macau in the preliminaries, and qualified to compete in the finals. In the finals, S.Batjargal lost to a Chinese fighter, and landed on silver.
S.Batjargal is a member of Misheel Club, and he became the first Mongolian to win a medal from the East Asian Muay Thai Championships.
S.Batjargal will soon compete in the 5th Asian Beach Games, which will be organized by the International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur and Olympic Council of Asia in Vietnam in September.
'National Cup' football competition to take place in Sukhbaatar Province
August 4 (news.mn) Under the auspices of the President the 'National Cup-2016' football competition will take place in Sukhbaatar province from 8th to 14th of August. For the first time this competition taking place somewhere other than UB. The award money is MNT 30 million. Overall 21 provinces teams will be competing in the 'National Cup'. Last year, the team from Selenge province won the 'National Cup' as well as MNT 16 million in prize money.
Photo Essay: The World Sumo Championships in Mongolia
Mongolia hosts its first major international competition for a sport in which its athletes shine.
August 4 (The Diplomat) In the past decade, Mongolian Sumo wrestlers have dominated the upper echelons of the professional circuit in Japan. However, the 21st World Sumo Championships held last weekend was the first major international competition Mongolia has hosted for the sport. The amateur tournament was put on by the International Sumo Federation, which is recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and took place on July 30. Women and men competed in separate events with four weight classes: lightweight, middleweight, heavyweight, and open (no weight restrictions).
The competition came hot off the heels of the massive Asia-Europe Summit, during which President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj declared his country's goal of hosting the 2050 Olympic games. At the World Sumo Championships, Mongolia continued to show the world it can put on a great show.
Mongolia to participate in 'World Nomad Games-2016'
August 5 (news.mn) The second 'World Nomad Games' (WNG) is scheduled to be held in September 2016 on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. Mongolia will participate in the sporting event, which is scheduled to be held from September 3rd – 8th. The host country is planning to increase the number of sports competitions to 25; this will include a festival of combat sports, horseracing and other horse competitions, archery contests, and demonstrations of different types of hunting with hunting birds and the famous Kyrgyz hunting dog – the Taigan..
The main idea of the WNG is the implementation of ethno-sport, ethno-cultural and academic programs. The event is dedicated to showing the history of nomadic nations, their traditions, lifestyles and culture. "The World Nomad Games demonstrates our rich cultural heritage," said Daniiar Mukashev, Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN.
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev first proposed the idea of holding the World Nomad Games in 2012. The first World Games of Nomads were launched on September 9, 2014 on the shores of Issyk-Kul, the Pearl of the Central Asia. Located to the north of the towering Tian Shan Mountains, it is the biggest lake in the country, ranking among the 25 largest lakes and the six deepest lakes in the world.
In the first World Nomad Games, competitions were held in 10 sports. The Games brought together athletes from 19 countries: Azerbaijan, Austria, Afghanistan, Belarus, Brazil, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Mongolia, Russia, the United States, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, France, Sweden and South Korea. Thirty sets of medals in 10 sports were on offer (a total of 166 medals). The Games generated interest worldwide and were covered by more than 250 journalists and cameramen from leading media agencies.
Nepal's Three Star announces squad for AFC Cup play-off against Mongolia's Erchim
KATHMANDU, Aug 4 (Republica): Three Star Club has announced a 20-member squad for the upcoming AFC Cup play-off to be held in the third week of August.. The National League champion is flying to Mongolia on August 16.
Three Star will face Mongolian league winner Erchim FC and Cambodian league runner-up Nagaworld FC. Nagaworld got a change to represent Cambodia in the tournament after league champion Phnom Penh Crown Football Club was punished by Cambodia FA for match fixing.
Nepali league champion is playing the play-off of AFC Cup, a second-tier Asian club football championship, for the first time after the AFC scrapped the third-tier Presidents Cup.
Head coach Megh Raj KC has expressed his satisfaction over the preparation of Three Star. "We have been training since the last three weeks, so the preparation has gone well," said KC.
Although the club has announced 20-member squad, it is likely to take only 18 players to Mongolia. "Mongolia is an expensive country, thus we are planning to take only 18 players," informed the coach.
Coach KC also said that their two opponents play 'power game' so they are training accordingly. "Both Mongolian and Cambodian clubs play power game so we have formed our team and trained accordingly," added the coach.
Three Star's target is to top the group and qualify for the next round, according to KC. "Cambodia and Mongolia both are similar to our level. So we expect to make it to the next round by topping the group," said KC with confidence.
Three Star will face Erchim on August 21 and Nagaworld on August 23.
Three Star has a mix of young and senior players. Alan Nepane has replaced goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong, who has joined Manang Marsyangdi Club (MMC), as the first-choice goalkeeper. Similarly, Roshan Mal, who has been playing his trade in England, is also travelling with Three Star for the AFC Cup play off.
Coach KC also said that he has formed the team by selecting the best players available.
Before leaving for Mongolia, Three Star is playing a preparation match against departmental club APF on August 5 at the ANFA Complex, Satdobato.
Ascot Racecourse CEO's son takes up challenge of 10,000-mile Mongol Rally in aid of Racing Welfare, the Injured Jockeys Fund and the Archie Lloyd Foundation
August 1 (The Villager) WITH nearly £3,500 raised at the time of writing, the son of Ascot Racecourse's chief executive is making sure his trip of a lifetime helps rake in cash for good causes.
Ed Henderson, whose dad Guy is CEO of the famous racetrack, set off last month from the Goodwood Motor Circuit with his friend Ollie Atkins on a 10,000-mile rally to Ulan Ude in Mongolia.
Every penny pledged by their supporters will go to their three chosen charities: Racing Welfare, the Injured Jockeys Fund and the Archie Lloyd Foundation.
The latter was set up in memory of their Radley College schoolmate who was tragically killed in an accident last year and provides funds to talented sportsmen who need financial support.
Guy says his son is of course excited to be going on such a journey halfway round the world and fundraising in the process.
He said: "Ed would feel very satisfied to be raising so much money.
"Jockeys and racing staff put everything on the line to entertain people so Racing Welfare and the Injured Jockeys are invaluable in that respect.
"They are also doing something to honour their friend Archie."
The Ascot Racecourse CEO is a big believer in letting young people like Ed off the leash and is not worried at all about how he will fare on the adventure.
"I grew up in an era that placed a lot on self-sufficiency and it is very good for teenagers to deal with risks sensibly," he added.
"Ed and Ollie did all the admin themselves and I only helped them with the car insurance and made sure Ed took a car mechanics course.
"All their costs are covered from working during their gap year and they sourced the car for the rally on their own."
The intrepid duo hope to reach Ulan Ude by the end of this month but, as Guy says, whether they will is in the hands of chance.
To donate to Ed and Ollie's cause go to https://www.pledgit.net/campaign/aYT30y/liter-rally-no-idea-ollie-and-eds-mongol-rally. You can also track their progress at https://share.delorme.com/OliverAtkins
Mongolia's Got Talent Season 2 to air next month
August 3 (UB Post) Mongol TV's reality television series Mongolia's Got Talent 2016, part of the global Got Talent Franchise, will begin its second season in September.
Mongolia's Got Talent 2016 started registering this year's contestants in January. The last open auditions for Mongolia's Got Talent took place from April 15 to 17, in Ulaanbaatar.
Television host S.Chimgee, violinist Ts.Delgertsetseg, bass player of Haranga Ts.Chuluunbat, and rapper Rokit Bay will return in 2016 as judges for the show's second season.
The children's instrumental group Egshiglent Chimee (Melodious Sound) won Mongolia's Got Talent 2015 and were awarded 100 million MNT.
Art Space Mongolia features Otgo's 'Blue'
The winner of Grand Prix of the International Biennale of the Painting Chisinau – 2015, artist Otgonbayar Ershuu is presenting his works in his independent exhibition "Blue" at ART SPACE MONGOLIA Gallery in Shangri-La Centre until September 1.
One of OTGO's unique characteristics is to paint his depictions directly on the canvas thereby evading the process of sketching. It is absolutely remarkable in which precise and loving detail Otgonbayar Ershuu fills his canvases. Lively, colorful depictions of paradise, erotica and flocks of horses mesmerize his pictorial surfaces into imaginative compositions, capture and challenge to explore the world of miniature paintings. Otgonbayar Ershuu has created detailed paintings in breathtaking filigree in tempera on canvas. His newest works present a whole new world of creation. The young artist composed a fascinating coexistence of detailed miniature painting and active abstraction of picture elements in acrylic on canvas.
E.Enkhbold to participate in International Fashion SuperModel 2016
August 4 (UB Post) Male model E.Enkhbold is preparing to participate in the 2016 International Fashion Supermodel (IFSM) Contest, which will be held in Hong Kong, from September 8 to 12.
He has headed to Hong Kong to take part in the commercial shooting competition for IFSM and to take part in model casting for Hong Kong Fashion Week.
Congratulations on being selected to take part in the International Fashion SuperModel Contest. How many Mongolian models will take part in the competition?
Mongol Model Agency received the contest invitation when I was participating in the "Your Face Sounds Familiar" television show. Then, Mongol Model Agency sent some modeling photos and CVs to the organizers. The organizers of International Fashion SuperModel selected me and two female models.
Who are the two female models?
B.Budjargal and Yu.Baljidmaa. They are very experienced Mongolian models. B.Budjargal and I won the Asian Star Model award in 2011. She also worked as a contracted model in Singapore.
Yu.Baljidmaa is a model who can succeed in the future. She has participated in a lot of international competitions. She has also worked as contracted model in Singapore and China.
You went on casting calls for Hong Kong Fashion Week and were hired. Congratulations. You've certainly opened the door for a lot of opportunities.
Thank you. Of course, I came very close to a lot of opportunities. We successfully participated in the press conference, commercial shoots, and casting. The organizers of the competition offered me the chance to enter the fashion market in Hong Kong.
In November, the final round of International Fashion SuperModel will be held. I've seized the chance to take part in that competition.
V-Rox Showcase Mongolia
August 7 (UB Post) Anima Mundi Entertainment will hold V-Rox Showcase Mongolia at Black Pearl in the National Amusement Park on August 10.
UB Jazz Club reopening at former Brauhaus
August 7 (UB Post) UB Jazz Live Music Club is reopening at the former location of Brauhaus. The official opening of UB Jazz Club will take place on August 8.
Busan-Ulaanbaatar cooperation to expand with regular direct flights
August 5 (UB Post) Mongolia and the Republic of Korea are working to make Busan-Ulaanbaatar direct flights regular to develop cooperation and relations between the two cities. South Korea's Air Busan started conducting direct flights to Mongolia twice a week on June 24.
Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold received a Korean delegation led by Mayor of Busan Suh Byung-soo. During the meeting, the sides signed an agreement to develop friendly relations between the two cities, officially commencing their collaboration.
Mayor S.Batbold underlined that the agreement was vital for landlocked Mongolia, stating, "Cooperation with Busan is of great importance for Mongolia, as the city is Korea's second biggest city with industry and logistics developed."
During the meeting, S.Batbold expressed interest in intensifying the exchange of expertise, and to cooperate in urban planning and development and the economy.
Mayor Suh said, "Although we have officially signed an agreement for establishing friendly relations today, we could say that cooperation between the two cities started earlier. The Mongolian Consulate in Busan opened on January 1. Busan and Ulaanbaatar also launched direct flights, which creates possibilities for Mongolia to cooperate with the southern regions of the Republic of Korea, intensifying cooperation and creating pleasant conditions for mutual travel, tourism, health, business, and the education sector."
Transit transportation to increase trade volume
August 5 (news.mn) Mongolia, China, and Russia, will begin a road transportation trial from 18th to 24th of August. It is the first transit transportation undertaking between the three countries. Transportation tests will be carried out on the 2200 km route from the China's Port of Tianjin, via Ulaanbaatar to the Russian city of Ulan-Ude. The route consists of 900 km road in China, 1050 km in Mongolia and 240 km in Russia.
New transit transportation is expected help to increase trade volume by around 17-20% by 2020. Furthermore, freight transportation will increase by 10% annually which is equal to annual trade volume increase between Russian and China.
Freight deliveries from China to Europe door to door by sea takes 50 days and 25-30 days by rail. The new road transportation corridor is expected to take only 4 days. Road transportation is faster than rail and can cover 400-450 km per day.
Overall nine trucks from three countries, will run in the transportation tests. Russia's "Rosavtotrans" is in charge of ensuring the preparation for the test; Rusta, Sovtransavto and the Adgence group will participate.
The trilateral transport agreement was signed during a summit of the presidents of Mongolia, China, and Russia in the Uzbek capital Tashkent in June.
Mongolia Hosts Seminar on Maritime SAR Safety
London, Monday, 1 August 2016 (International Maritime Rescue Federation) Mongolia – for the first time – was the location for a workshop on safety issues for non-conventional vessels supported by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).
Increasing waterborne activities on the Mongolian lakes has led to the Mongolian Maritime Administration setting up legislative, preventive and responsive measures intended to raise awareness and get a commitment from all stakeholders.
The meeting was held at Hatgal on the southern end of Lake Khövsgöl which is located in the northwest of Mongolia near the Russian border, at the foot of the eastern Sayan Mountains. It is 1,645 metres (5,397 feet) above sea level, 136 kilometres (85 miles) long and 262 metres (860 feet) deep.
Lake Khövsgöl is the second-most voluminous freshwater lake in Asia, and holds almost 70% of Mongolia's fresh water and 0.4% of all the fresh water in the world. National tourism continues to grow with the lake receiving 60,000 visitors per day which has resulted in an increase in camping.
"As the area is extremely remote any SAR system needs to be set up primarily on preventive measures and on the principle 'helping people help themselves," concluded Captain Fox, IMRF Chairman.
Captain Fox made a keynote address on maritime search and rescue operations and set out the role and purpose of the IMRF. He highlighted the importance of considering not only preventing loss of life but also the capacity development of rescuers.
During the seminar comprehensive discussions took place on issues around maritime SAR services and Captain Fox urged the need for special agencies like the Mongolia Maritime Administration and National Emergency Management Agency to foster cooperation through an enhanced partnership.
He also applied lessons learned specifically to the Khövsgöl Lake - part of a protected area which is being developed for tourism.
"This was a tremendous opportunity for the IMRF to understand the challenges faced by the developing maritime search and rescue services in Mongolia and to impart our knowledge about SAR best practice," says Bruce Reid, IMRF, CEO.
"We commend the Mongolia Maritime Administration for organising the event and we hope it will lead to a strong relationship moving forward, which will enable us to share information about technology, SAR techniques, communication and co-ordination to enable us to save more lives in their waters and elsewhere."
The IMRF Chairman, Captain Fox suggested the setting up of a regulatory framework by application of internationally recognized standards for licensing boats and boat drivers operating on the lake and the development of standard safety procedures for boat operators including reporting/tracking.
Recommendations also include the setting up of a SAR Safety Net by using mobile VHF on commercially used boats allowing to call each other for assistance/help and the provision of basic safety/first aid courses to locals.
He also recommended the enforcement of safety regulations through permanent presence and the carrying out of audits by MMA officers on the lake during the ice free season.
The two day workshop, held at the beginning of last month, covered a range of issues including the development of maritime and domestic water transportation; the use of water resource as well as current search and rescue activity in the rivers and lakes of Mongolia.
It was held by Mongolia Maritime Administration at Khuvsgul lake in Khuvsgul province of Mongolia and was attended by the representatives from the IMRF, International Maritime Organization (IMO), as well as over 150 participants including representatives from the Ministry of Roads and Transport, Mongolia Maritime Administration, National Emergency Management Agency, Civil Aviation Authority of Mongolia, General Agency for Specialized Inspection, Local government officials and Environmental Protection Agency.
New Ulaanbaatar Airport Construction Progress, July 29
Travel Destination: Hyargas Lake, Hetsuu Rock
By A. Odontuya
August 5 (gogo.mn) Our group of three people, have steered its wheel to Hyargas lake, which is located in the Western parts of Mongolia, Uvs aimag riding Prius 20 covering total road of 2800 km.
Budget per person was MNT 70.000 and fuel totalled to around MNT 300,000. For food, we carried portable gas hotplate and purchased main food items from UB and cooked our meal and stayed in a tent throughout the whole journey of 4 nights and 5 days.
MAIN ROUTE OF THE JOURNEY: Ulaanbaatar city - Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake - Hyargas Lake Hetsuu Rock - Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake - Ulaanbaatar city.
DAY ONE: ULAANBAATAR CITY - TERKHIIN TSAGAAN LAKE (660 km)
We left UB early in the morning and headed to west. We have reached Elsen Tasarkhai Sand dunes, which is 370 km from UB, passing Lun and Erdenesant soums of Tuv aimag.
This 80-km sand dune locates in a terrain of 3 Soums, Erdenesant of Tuv Aimag, Burd of Uvurkhangai, Gurvanbulag of Bulgan Aimag, starting from west of Mount Batkhaan and stretches along west of Mount Khugnu Khan. Here you can ride camel, take picture with camel, go sand hiking and rest in ger camps nearby road.
Our next stop was Kharkhorin soum of Uvurkhangai aimag. Here you can visit the Erdene Zuu, the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. It was founded in 1586 by Altai Khaan. We had our lunch at the Orkhon river bank.
After driving for 120 km, we arrived in Tsetserleg city of Arkhangai aimag. We filled fuel from UB and refilled again in Tsetserleg city. Because prices for oil increases as you drive further away from the city. Therefore, note to refill oil at every biggest villages you visit.
Next nature attraction to visit is Chuluut river, which runs approximately 160 km from Tsetserleg city. It starts off in a narrow, steep but not high basalt canyon that is embedded in a landscape of mountainous steppe. It is a wondrous experience traveling between those sheer walls, which occasionally open up to a view of wooded slopes and rich grazing grounds. Total length of the Chuluut river is 415 km.
We spent the night at north shore of Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake and we reached there after driving 10 km from the Chuluut river. You can use other roads to get to Khorgo, a volcano crater of Mongolia surrounded by many tourist attractions including a cave for single man, Youth cave, Hell of Yellow Dog and Seven stone ger.
Note: Bring warm clothes as Terkhiin Tsagaan lake has cold weather than usual. Also, do not forget to see the sunrise and sunset.
We went through 630 km paved roads on the first day of our journey.
DAY TWO: TERKHIIN TSAGAAN LAKE - KHYARGAS LAKE , HETSUU ROCK (670 km)
On this day, we planned to reach our destination, the Khyargas lake, crossing over total of 670 km road, of which 280 km paved and 390 km dust road. We pulled off early in the morning.
Our first stop was Tosontsengel soum of Zavkhan aimag where the paved road ends and off-road trail starts. Then we stopped at Numrug soum which is 100 km away from Tosontsengel soum.
On your road to Numrug soum, you will find the Telmen salt lake, the perfect place to stay. Lenght of Telmen lake is 26 km, width is 12 km and the dept is 27 m. It covers total of 194 km area and located 1700 m above the sea level.
After we went on 90 km dust road, reaching Songino soum of Zavhan aimag. Here we had our dinner and refilled oil. Khyargas lake is 150 km away from there. Road to Khyargas lake, Hetsuu rock is full of sand. If you have planned to go with small car, never stop. As the sandy road might get you in a sand.
The Khyargas lake is one of the 4 lakes which cover more than 1000 square. Khyargas lake is elevated at 1023 m above sea level that is in the south of Uvs province, descended from tectonics, covered 1406.8 km2 square, 75 km length, 31 km width, 253.8 km length shore, 92 m depth of water nearby yellow berry line and in other places about 40-50 m depth in there.
Khetsuu Khad is 20 meters high enormous rock sticking out of the water that attracts migratory cormorant birds. The aura created by the white cliffs, shrill birds and the prevailing smell of guano makes you feel as if you've arrived at the ocean.
You will experience the Gobi nature around the lake. Therefore, August is the perfect month to visit as the hot weather settles and hundreds of mosquitoes are away. Here you can find Khetsuu Khad Ger camp.
Note: Have enough drinking water as well as for use.
We spent one night only at Hyargas lake and headed back to UB through the same route, as we had little time. On our way back home, we stayed again at Terkhiin Tsagaan lake as well as visited Taikhar rock. Taikhar Rock is located 22 kilometres NE from Tsetserleg city. It's a 20-metres high granite rock, covered with 150 writings. On the other hand, one can continue the trip further to Uvs Lake (36 km from Ulaangom city, Uvs aimag) passing through the Ulaangom city, which is 100 km away from Hyargas Lake
P.S: We would line to extend our appreciation to the kind hearted people who helped us a lot during our journey. We met a group of travellers with five Priuses who reached out their hand to help when we got stuck in a mud on the way from Songino soum.
P.P.S: All photos were taken with mobile phone. If the photos do not meet the quality, please, excuse us.
Go nomadic with a Mongolian homestay in a ger
Try a ger in Mongolia and you will likely find yourself in the middle of nowhere - with stunning scenery in every direction
By Leslie Koh
August 7 (The Straits Times) There are two surprising facts about staying in a Mongolian ger.
One: The large, round tent is fairly warm. The swathes of sheepskin lining the top and walls keep the heat in and keep out the cold of the relentless rain sweeping across the grassy plains.
Two: Dried cow dung is odourless. Really. You can eat next to it, sleep next to it, burn it in a stove to warm up the giant tent and forget you are sitting next to a whole box of, well, dung.
Oh, and one more thing: It can be noisy. Really noisy.
Despite the fact that you and the host family are the only people around for hundreds of kilometres, you are likely to find yourself waking up to the bleating of lambs, grunting of yaks, barking of dogs, neighing of horses and shouts of herdsmen taking their livestock out early in the morning and back late in the evening.
It is a heartening reminder that staying in a ger gives you not only a taste of living in a typical Mongolian home, but also a peek into the people's way of life - one that seems hardly changed since the time of 13th-century conqueror Genghis Khan.
The ger, you quickly discover, is a centre of activity and refuge in a landscape that is beautiful and harsh at the same time.
Many Mongolians still cherish this way of life. About three- quarters of the country's population are estimated to be still living in gers.
Even those who have been persuaded to move into permanent wooden or concrete structures in towns and cities set up a ger in their backyard. Others have eschewed the modern life altogether, sticking to the nomadic lifestyle that sees them moving their portable homes every three to six months.
The love of the traditional way of life extends to the younger crowd.
Trekking guide Sansarchimeg Ganbat, 30, holds a master's degree in tourism and lives in Ulaanbaatar so her two children can attend school. But she looks forward to the day she and her husband can move back to the grassy plains where she grew up.
"The land has everything," she says. "You don't need much, you can live off your sheep, goats and cows. And there is so much space and no stress."
It is easy to see why Sagii, as she calls herself, is all too ready to give up the bright lights of the city.
You can never tire of the awesome vistas in places such as Orkhon Valley in central Tov province, where my wife and I visited, what with the endless rolling hills alternating with rocky valleys, the boundless plains stretching to the horizon and the snow-clad Altai mountains in the distance.
There are no buildings, fences or roads. The only signs of civilisation are clusters of gers, rarely more than four or five dotting the landscape and usually more than 20km to 50km apart.
There are also countless sheep, goats, horses, yaks and cows, as well as the occasional camel. All of it makes for the classic Mongolian scene, complete with cowboy-like herdsmen galloping across the plains, rounding up the livestock on horseback.
These days, though, most nomadic families are likely to own a small lorry, which they use to move their gers between their winter and summer camps, and a motorbike, which they use in tandem with their horses to round up their herds.
The advantage of taking the homestay option in central Mongolia, rather than a tourist ger camp, is that you get a good, honest taste of the nomadic lifestyle, even though it does mean putting up with some rather basic facilities.
It means waking up to oh-so- adorable lambs scuttling around the campsite - and the odd woolly head poking curiously through the doorway - every morning; watching the host family taming its horses and shearing its sheep (no electric shaver, just a pair of scissors); and, if your stomach can take the sight, helping to clean the innards of a freshly slaughtered sheep.
None of this is put on for show.
Host families in Mongolia typically do not shower you with lavish attention. Apart from popping into your ger in the morning to help you start the fire (it is pretty nippy even in summer) and letting you know when meals are ready, they are usually preoccupied with their chores, which means you are free to roam around soaking in the sights, sounds and smells.
And there is just so much to see. You could walk all day, crossing grassy plain after plain and ascending one rolling hill after another, and still be able to turn around to spot your ger in the distance.
Parts of Orkhon Valley also hide ancient ruins of monasteries, most of which were destroyed by the Soviets in the 1960s.
Even getting to a homestay ger is an experience.
While the main highway between Ulaanbaatar and Kharkhorin, the provincial capital of Tov, is paved, few other roads are. That means a long, bumpy ride over tracks that snake their way over steep hills and, often, through shallow rivers. But you will be rewarded by scenery throughout and maybe an unusual experience or two.
At one point, we were stopped by herdsmen and asked to help herd horses over a bridge, which saw us waving our arms furiously, yelling and pushing some of them across.
For Sagii, who quickly rushed over to help, this is part and parcel of Mongolian life. Because nomadic families live so far apart and in such harsh, isolated circumstances, she says they make it a point to help anyone in need.
Indeed, when our van became stuck in mud that came up to our waists, passing herdsmen did not hesitate to stop and help dig us out.
It is a culture that has not changed for hundreds of years and one which draws people such as Sagii back to the rolling hills and grassy plains. "Here in Mongolia," she says, "we are all family."
Back to basics
While staying in a typical Mongolian ger can be quite an experience for city folk, it can also be a challenge for those used to luxuries - such as electricity, running water and a toilet.
You will get enough beds for your entire family, possibly a table and chair, a light bulb and some odd assortment of furniture.
No ger comes without the ubiquitous stove and an ever-ready supply of dried dung or wood, which you can use to warm up the tent and cook at the same time.
But there is no loo. That is found outside and is usually little more than a hole in the ground surrounded by a makeshift wooden barrier. Some of them feature a roof.
Forget Wi-Fi - most nomadic families string up an antenna on their lorry in hopes of connecting their phones, but this is not always reliable, especially in bad weather.
Pop your head into the host family's ger, however, and you will usually see a little more luxury. Most families hang up some pictures or family photos on their tent walls and have a DVD player and television... and that is about it.
The ger serves as the family's bedroom, living room and kitchen as well as dairy product factory. It is often a hive of activity and just sitting around gives you a wonderful front-row seat to nomadic Mongolian life.
You might be invited to take a sniff from a snuff bottle - part of the traditional greeting - and to try a cup of suutei tsai. This is the Mongolian version of milk tea, which usually uses yak milk and is flavoured with salt.
A word of warning - Mongolian food consists mainly of mutton, mutton and mutton. There is little in the way of vegetables and just about everything cooked up in the family's own ger is likely to have some part of sheep or yak.
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