The office of the President of Mongolia, Public Relations & Communications Division
President Ts.Elbegdorj: The Problem Rests With the People in Power
Serious action is lacking to fight corruption and maintain justice and accountability.
President Ts. Elbegdorj’s speech from his meeting with residents of GobiSumber Aimag.
I extend a warm greeting to the residents of GobiSumber Aimag, the homeland of the Borjigons.
I have been visiting all 18 aimags and meeting with fellow citizens to hear their opinions about my term as President. GobiSumber is the last aimag that I’m visiting as I was visiting aimags which are further from Ulaanbaatar first and leaving the nearest aimags to visit later.
Before this, we were in Zamiin Uud and discussed the challenges they are facing, issues that need to be solved, and government solutions. Zamiin Uud was initially established as a railway port. Now it has turned into a bustling town with 20,000 residents. But many infrastructure issues and other matters need to be resolved in order for Zamiin Uud to become a big development center. Many issues, including water-supply, electricity, thermo, a purification system, and road projects, are being taken care of and moving forward. Amongst these developments, renewable resources should be given first priority. From Zamiin Uud, we went to Dorngobi Aimag, where we learned about the status of the implementation and future trends of the Sainshand Industrial Park project. There is a possibility to lay a railroad track from the Gobi region and from Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi to Sainshand. This railroad might be continued down to South East Asian countries and also pass through Dornod Aimag. During my visit, we were discussing this possibility with the proper local authorities and personnel in charge.
In Gobisumber Aimag, we started our work by familiarizing ourselves with judicial affairs. My key focus is consolidating justice and creating structure that promotes justice.
Political parties, politicians and people are focusing their attention on the approaching election, and these political elections are a right granted to citizens. I assume that this is a vital historical time to reflect on what we have accomplished, what mistakes we have made, and look to the appropriate steps and actions for the next election.
In this extremely important period, people are pondering on whether political parties fulfilled their promises, how they carried out their work, whether they were dedicated, whether people’s lives were improved, the type of progress seen, and the general conditions throughout the country. Our political parties are also organizing their conventions, developing political programs, and defining their ideology.
The Mongolian economy has gotten on the path to grow, and the door has opened for Mongolian people to improve their lives. There is no doubt about that. So in this election, it is not a good approach to try to garner support by promising big numbers in the economic development of the country.
In any case, the issue of people’s salary will be taken care of; and special attention will be given to those people who need help and care. Good governments should foster economic opportunities. But our people have an erroneous notion, and they don’t understand the real meaning and core values and responsibilities of the government. The governor is not a creator of wealth, nor does it take away wealth, nor is it the one responsible for distributing society’s wealth. Rather, the government is the subject that exists based on tax fees paid by the citizens. Not everybody should be in the government, and not everybody should be a leader.
Teachers are supposed to teach, doctors have to heal, and business people will do their businesses. Those people get together and collectively make certain rules and regulations and make the state work for them. But in the urban areas, state activities tend to be geared towards wealth, which is a wrong practice of going before citizens. I like to say that “a good state’s mother is justice” because mothers don’t discriminate against their children.
Some people compare the state with their parents. Like mothers who don’t discriminate against their children, the state should remain without discrimination and be just.
The gap between the rich and the poor is widely discussed in Mongolia today. Those people who have easy access to information and decision-making tend to get rich, and some become richer illegally.
People who don’t have access to information and decision-making powers have a difficult life. The Mongolian economy has improved substantially. It is said that the economy has increased 20-30 times compared to 1990. The GDP has increased twice in last two years. But has your income increased in such a manner?
In the Parliament Convention on the centennial anniversary of Independence Day, I emphasized certain points. Why is it that our economic growth does not go to Mongolian households or into plain citizens’ pockets? We should resolve this problem. Foreign investors, the state and some people supported by the state get benefits and are provided with special rights in Mongolia. Plain citizens perform the most difficult tasks. Let’s change this wrong-headed practice. In order to change that, let’s provide our ordinary citizens with rights similar to those that are often reserved for big companies, oligarchies, the state, and people close to state employees and foreigners. If they do business, let’s provide them with tax exemptions and try to reduce pressure from the state. If we don’t support those people who are trying to improve people’s lives and who are creating jobs for others, Mongolia will not prosper.
I want the political parties to discuss the inequality issue. In this convention, I was discussing those people who got reach illegally by working in judicial agencies. I was calling them wealthy colonels. The parties’ resolutions don’t reflect the inequality issue however. If they touch upon this issue and come up with a viable strategy, we will trust them.
If political parties will declare that members who were involved in bribery and who are likely to be involved cannot be candidates, we will trust them. We should not trust their false promise that the economy will increase 30 to 40 times, that lives will be improved and salaries increased. When the economy improves, salaries will increase as a result. The inequality between the rich and poor is caused by bad governance and wrong practices of the state. The Mongolian State’s mismanagement of the country has resulted in forming the big gap between rich and poor that is too common in Mongolia.
The citizen’s bad quality of life proves that the state is not fulfilling its duty to serve society. This kind of state needs to heal itself by fighting against injustice, stealing and bribery rather than by making all kinds of false promises.
We have to serve our citizens, listen to their voice and solve their issues. The Parliament has enacted an election law that prohibits the practice of promising a gigantic a leap in economy.
Problematic Parliament members no longer can be candidates for Parliament. Protecting Parliament members’ rights should be within the law. Today, an inspection of Parliament members case is rejected for the reason that there is no proof of evidence.
The Parliament should immediately make resolutions dealing with judicial agencies. There are many state authorities whose issues are not settled by discussing them in Parliament. I am eager to support the parties’ political program that will abolish the protection of the problematic Parliament members and makes them equal with normal citizens.
What we lack in Mongolia today is not money, but accountability and justice. Politicians promise big money nowadays. I see that problem rests with people in power. The Parliament, the government, and government agencies in urban areas have issues. A promise of big money without solving the issues in the minds of these government agencies will not do any good.
Our people have participated five times both in Parliamentary elections and Presidential elections. Now it will be the sixth time. During this time, our citizens have gained experience. I hope they will make wise and right decision. There is also a need to discuss issues associated with the elections. To have accountability with the selection of the new government members, I proposed that government members should not be selected from parliament members.
As it is indicated in our constitution, government members can be or can’t be selected from the Parliament. I was of the state twice. During this time, government members were from Parliament and also weren’t as well.
My approach is to stop the practice of assigning two responsible state jobs to one person. Let’s change this practice if it was a mistake before. When many government members are parliament members, it is difficult to have them be accountable. When issues concerning ministries arise in Parliament, they are hard to settle and reach a resolution, while settling the case of an ordinary citizen who gets in trouble is much easier. There is no protection for normal citizens. Parliament members should fulfill only the duty of being a member of Parliament, because there is no more superior or important duty than the duty to legislate. The assignment of two responsible positions to one person will result in poor performance in both. When government members are selected not from the parliament members, the government will be more responsive. The authority to make laws and the authority to execute the laws should be exercised separately.
I will initiate a law to change this practice. I see that except for the Prime Minister, all the government members should be selected from outside of the Parliament. If a Parliament member chooses to be in the government in another capacity, he or she should resign as a Parliament member, and the legal foundation for solution should be created before the Parliamentary elections.
We should support parliament members and political parties that are advocating this change.
We should break off illegal connections formed between the judicial branch, the police and other agencies.
I am ready to support a political power that is willing to make changes in laws and has ideas to support justice. When they make promises they should take actions geared toward these promises. The first law proposal I submitted to the Parliament as President was a provision on bribery and corruption for criminal law. The Parliament did not discuss this proposal for two years because the parliament members gave priority to issues in finance and appointing positions and has been kept delaying it. Only few articles and clauses from the proposal were included in the law for private and public interest. I am going to submit a law proposal again. When government authorities who have to serve citizens were misusing their power, the punishment given to them should be severe. The punishment for normal citizens who made mistakes accidently the punishment has to be light. I was advocating this issue assuming it should be given top priority and proposed a bill that has not been approved for 3 years. In order to promote justice, we should straighten up judicial and other legal matters.
I proposed six bills with regard to judicial affairs and submitted them to the Parliament. These bills were not discussed in the Parliament too. I will request the Parliament to review those bills because the Mongolian people have chosen me to speak in their behalf. With these six laws problems wouldn’t end. We are creating a separate bill for law makers concerning their etiquette, the actions to take when they are irresponsible, and commend them when they are dedicated. Fighting for justice is very challenging and a self sacrificing process.
Courageous patriots, who respect citizens’ right, freedom and liberty, can enforce this law. First, these six bills of law, then criminal investigation and punishment law, and criminal law should be passed. The law in investigating the citizens’ cases in the court needs some amendment. We have prepared amendments for these laws. Previous bills are stack and latter ones can’t be submitted. I will support the people who can cooperate and support this issue. There is one matter I resolved after I became President. I focused my attention on issuing special licenses. The fact that half of the Mongolian land was given to foreigners was frightening the people. I faced many resistances. The proposal was submitted and approved by the Security Council and to the Parliament which banned issuing mining special licenses. It was a common practice to trade Mongolian wealth for a piece of paper named special licenses. The people who were buying these licenses were foreigners. Mongolian people were selling them to foreigners.
Our wealth were turned wealth in the bag. This wealth was the means that makes the authorities, who can take advantage of the power, rich. We are postponing it for 2 years. I submit recommendations every year to the Parliament to postpone it until the proper and just mining law that will benefit citizens of Mongolia will be passed. When I meet people in many places they are very supportive of this idea. We should resolve the issue that concerns the people.
We aim policy that when local citizens don’t approve of the mining exploration on their territory, any mining survey and exploration cannot be carried out in the territory. This principle will be the foundation for the new mining law.
People who can feel the hardship of citizens should talk. In our country, authorities and leaders get advantage of the economic growth and generate wealth and have a very fancy life. Rich people don’t understand the hardships of the poor people, and satiate people don’t understand problems of the hungry people. I hope you’re familiar with issues that are addressed in vital state conventions. The problems they are addressing are too far from everyday life. Are they discussing about air pollution , garbage that spread all over the country, living condition of the normal citizen, dangers that are degrading nature and justice which we desperately need? They are not touching on these issues. They are not addressing issues that I hear often from people by traveling around the country. There is a big gap between those people who are in power and not.
Promises of the power holders have to come from the heart and right judgment and not just from the mouth. We are fighting for democracy for 20 years. We all made a great effort. The things that dangers democracy are corruption, injustice and irresponsibility. We should change the things that jeopardize our accomplishments. This faith has to come from the bottom of our heart. Inferior people rob children’s food and future. Today’s bad government robs food and steals possibilities for future generations. Only educated, good mannered, hard working, thrifty people who are able to continue our ancestors’ heritage are making today’s world.
We are tired of those who don’t support middle class, small and medium enterprises, people’s creative ideas and those who are making false promises.
I was supporting the idea of cash allowance first. Wise people learn from the mistakes they have made and correct them. I am trying to fix my mistake. We should learn from the mistakes we have made and divert our direction.
The government agencies have turned into collections of the close relatives and friends. We should stop this practice. State businesses now became like private businesses. State businesses should care about the society. State administration counsel should make complete structural change. Is there anyone addressing this issue today? Political parties encourage a grouping among the citizens, have rigid membership. Parties carry out mass recruitment of the members.
They recruit hundreds and thousands of members. Does this practice improve people’s life? Is this right to conduct mass recruitment for members? Political preference is someone’s private choice rather than mass recruiting. I discourage this recruiting routine.
I was also a party leader. I criticize parties today. They disapprove of building spacious parties’ palaces. They can reside in the building given them by the government which is appropriate for the numbers of the members supported by the people. They should change law concerning political parties. I am requesting to demolish current political parties and conduct restructuring.
We will succeed if we raise serious issues, be demanding in fulfilling this demand and get most of them done. I wish the politicians and political parties will reflect these issues in their political program. What problems do normal citizens and young generations face? Accommodation issue is the most challenging. Some people don’t have electricity. They use candle as a source of light and take turns to have a shower after having the children fall asleep using the water heated in the kettle. My fellow citizens, the life in Choir and other soum centers have to be like the life in Ulaanbaatar. The people need access to proper restroom and shower. Why do people don’t have access to the things they need in their everyday life for so many years? Why are we not discussing these issues?
The state should not aim to build 3 bedroom apartments and two-storey houses. The middle class and poor people cannot afford to have those. The state should seek for the opportunity to provide the citizens with one studio type apartments. But all those studios are now occupied because it is in demand and nothing is available in the new apartment complexes.
To provide with one room apartments (studio type apartment) with 40 square meters, we have to build infrastructure and allocate land for free. People in charge of the land, sell the land granted by the state or give the land to relatives or close friends. Because of the bribe given to get a land, the price of the housing increases. We should stop this practice. After taking care of hot and cold water and the road, the construction companies should be invited to build apartments with condition to sell apartments for affordable prices. For instance, people can pay one hundred tugrigs every month for 10 years to own their apartments.
People are discussing why the state is not taking care of the housing problem? Two or three bedroom apartments constitute the majority of the one hundred apartments that are projected to be built. Let’s build studio-type apartments that are in demand for young generations and families. Those who want to live in two or three bedroom apartments they should take care of themselves if they can afford that. This is beyond the normal citizens’ life. Why has this problem not been addressed for three to four years and the funding has not been solved?
We don’t need a state that behaves like a racing horse to share nations created wealth and money and behaves like a turtle to solve the pressing issues of citizens’ problem and vulnerable people. We have to have them solve these pressing issues. As I mentioned before, the problem rests in the hands of those in the position in order words in the people working for the state. In order to solve the issues, problems, the vileness of the people in authority should be healed first. Those who want to work for the state have to be people with new viewpoint, new aspiration, creativity and willingness to learn on their mistakes.
After I have toured in 21 aimags, I stated this conclusion to begin my speech. I want people to be watchful and considerate in making their choice. Your four years of life will depend on your choice you make one day. Oligarchies can give you money one day and will keep your pocket empty for four years. People have to make the right choice. We should work collaboratively and make collective request. New initiatives are really needed. The problems I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. The problem is much bigger than the issues I have addressed. Citizens will address far more problems. I am willing to work collectively with the residents. Mongolian people no longer should depend on the assistances provided by the foreign countries to make a living. There were times we asked for help from foreign countries on behalf of the Mongolian people and distribute help to the citizens.
Political parties are taking advantage of the people’s attitude to take things for granted. We should stop that. I think one million and one and half million tugrigs are supposed to be granted. If we have not done that, more cash will be promised to be given to people today. Politicians have to have conclusions that this promise of 2008 was a mistake and did not bring any good to improve the economy and the people’s life. Instead it brought some bad effects. Learning lessons from the mistakes, promises should be made to promote justice and to put government in the right path so that it carries out right activities.
Unfortunately we don’t hear these kinds of promises. Politicians who promise benefaction before election don’t show up during 4 years and stay in UB. You all know that very well. Why has transferring an authority to local agencies not been discussed? Let’s assign mining authority to local agencies and authority to assign tax rate lower than set out tax rate and tax exempt authority. Citizens’ Representative Khural of the GobiSumber aimag should have authority to make decisions. Local authorities should keep the certain portion of the tax and have a power to manage how to use it. It should be their choice what kind of project they will finance-fixing school, hospital or giving as allowance to elders. Why can’t GobiSumber authorities be assigned to have this kind of power? It is a common practice that all powers are given to UB and try to resolve all issues in UB.
Our Parliament members tend to call the money allocated to district ‘my money’. They like to say “one billion tugriks were allocated to me”, “three billion tugriks were allocated to me” “this work has been carried out from my package” But they like to say they don’t take any from this money. The parliament members should understand that they are not the ministry of the finance or executing authorities. What they have to do is to control the spending of this money. If the money for the citizens is mismanaged they should fire the minister rather than managing this money by themselves for some projects in order to show that they care for the people. Then they get reelected. It is not fair. It is not the way we choose. It is a bad attitude that degrades Mongolian democracy and we should stop that. The Parliament should initiate the laws required. Why it does not do that? Why doesn’t it discuss this issue when it is very important? Why doesn’t it discuss the bills initiated by the President?
If the money for citizens is mismanaged they should fire the minister rather than managing this money by themselves for some project in order to show that they care for people. Then they get reelected. It is not fair. It is not the way we choose. It is bad attitude that degrades Mongolian democracy and we should stop that. The Parliament should initiate the laws required. Why it does not do that? Why it doesn’t discuss this issue when it is pressing issue. Why it doesn’t discuss the bills initiated by the President?
The discussions are usually postponed for certain reasons. When we look at the reasons, they are usually associated with private and political interests. The time to discuss these issues with the people is approaching. Our people should be awake, watchful and attentive. Let’s look at the path we walked and look further. We have children and young generation. When the state is flawed, good things will never happen. The state has to serve you rather than being a dictator. The leaders should understand that they are not special people. They exist because there are people who support them. They can feel and solve issues by mingling with people. I want our people to be more demanding on this issue.
Thank you for your attention.
Feb 4 2012 Choir city Gobisumber
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