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2012-04-25




ACCOUNTBILITY MUST BE CALLED ON ONLY AFTER THE CITIZENS ARE GIVEN THEIR RIGHTS



April 25, 2012

Excerpt from the speech of President Tsakhia Elbegdorj at an annual meeting with the citizens of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Accountability must be called on only after the citizens are given their rights

How hard it was to stall the mineral licenses scattered all around Mongolia. The issue was pressed to be discussed at the National Security Council, then submitted to the Parliament thrice to produce necessary laws. Today the Minerals law is being made into 3-4 separate important laws. It was hard to tackle this issue. And this is a job of the State to do.

Give the rights, give the budget to the local governments. Today, 82% of the total government budget is decided at the State Great Khural, in the center. Eighty two per cent is being decided by 76 persons, and only eight per cent - by 2.7 million people. How could it be so; resolve this. Conferring fiscal powers means conferring responsibility! Responsibility and accountability should be addressed only after having empowered the people, after having transferred them the powers. Certain laws were enacted to achieve this, certain progress is being made. Some of the laws will come into effect on January 1, 2013.

Another big issue – uranium. We resolved that not a single official would speak on behalf of Mongolia without discussing the issue at the National Security Country and without its authorization. (Applause)
From the United National rostrum, we declared that Mongolia would never let radioactive waste, nuclear waste, uranium waste be dumped in the Mongolian territories, that we would never engage in this. (Applause)
Isn’t the State supposed to do this job? And eventually, we must firmly decide once and for all whether we will exploit the minerals, and if we do exploit, how we do it. In this way, the State should take “by horns” the hardest, the most difficult jobs. Otherwise, the State should not race into business, should not race to make money. All level public officers are there, in the public service to address particularly these and such issues. If a public officer can’t resolve, handle such matters, he or she’d better leave the public service. It is easy to take a bribe. It is not easy to not to abuse, not to steal. It is even more difficult to resist the temptation to eat, to abuse, to steal. It is easy to steal together. It is not easy to resist to steal together. (Applause)
How difficult it is to stop stealing, stop bribery. How hard it is to fight with those who steal and bribe. How hard it is to arrest them, to hold them accountable. The State exists to do this, to undertake these duties. I think we all serve this cause believing that this will enhance Mongolia’s reputation and good name. I am convinced, the Mongolian people detest corruption and bribery. Yet, the “love and affection for the “darga - the boss”, is far from cooling down. The people who never called their wives “beloved” used to address their bosses with such an attribute.
Corruption is a crime committed knowingly, audaciously and by plan
I hear some our people cried when their “darga - the boss” was taken away while they didn’t care when the assets that belonged to them were stolen by that very boss. (Applause)
The darga-bosses, who uttered not a word when five lives were lost, are fighting to death with the anti-corruption officers. Is this ever conceivable? (Applause)
Some of our people have quite superficial corruption perception. Corruption, bribery denotes an action of taking without taking it in person, by himself. There is a definition in law even. I also hear people’s exclaiming “our dargas – the bosses” didn’t violate any law”. Bribery is a theft done in a way as if law is not violated. (Applause).
To add one more point, official powers are being abused for personal gains and benefits. Corruption and bribery are committed even by having the necessary laws enacted in the first place. Can this be done by a regular, ordinary citizen? No citizen can have money-related, license-related decisions issued and enacted. This is called a bribery, a corruption. Corruption is a power, in fact. This is a crime committed knowlingly, assuredly, audaciously, according to a carefully plotted scheme. To commit this crime, one sells information, uses others to clear his footprints, it is a carefully calculated action. Today, the anatomy of corruption has grown even more complicated that a human anatomy. There is no way to compare a corrupt official with a pickpocket. Today, even pickpockets have stopped stealing. The lawyers say corruption technologies and structure were devised under socialism! A corrupt person is the one who steals flour without a trace of white on his pants. (Applause)

You probably see there are nuances. Corruption cases are of a special type, they are contagious. If just one official is corrupt in an organization, the whole organization is infected. If a nation-scale corrupt official emerges, the whole nation is infected. This is called a corruption, a corruption case. In whose time corruption blossomed, and in whose time corrupts are in fear? (Applause)
They talk about a corruption web, the network. The one who weaves the web must be found. Here and there we hear about the thefts, the stealing, the bribing. The money, the wealth they stole are visible, yet the doer can’t be caught, the doer always refutes and makes others deny, and the doer organizes all this chit-chat. (Applause)
Revealing a corruption case is not an easy job. This is truly hard. Most importantly, the power of money is involved. Money disappears from somewhere and appears in the other. Compared to the evils of corruption, lamenting over dug holes and dried rivers is nothing, it’s easier. Yet we must criticize, condemn corruption and lament that it exists. It’s harder to locate, to disclose those who benefit from all this, the interests behind the curtain be unveiled. People argue whether Oyutolgoi was beneficial to Mongolia or not. Amidst all this, it is hard to trace who, when and how bequeathed the mining license.
To me, fighting corruption is not an [election] promise, it is my character, my nature.

Tavantolgoi, or Oyutolgoi development are nothing compared to reducing corruption and building a society where law treats everyone equal, if only we manage to make it a reality. A society free of corruption and with rule of law is an endless wealth, and we must create it. Therefore, we are facing a choice today - whether the law would prevail or we yield to corruption; whether in Mongolia behind every tender bid there would be a benefiter darga – the boss, or not.

Shall we have a Minister running around to sell an exploration license with established reserves or not? Shall we have Finance Ministry officials making profits from every investment project? Should we bear Ministries’ advisors who negotiate, bargain over project deals for a certain percentage of private gain? Should we have a public servant, who when meeting with foreigners and officers discuss in 70% their private business and of government work in the remaining 30%. (Applause)
The question is whether we should hold such people accountable for their actions? I think we must stop such practices. If we fail to locate them all, at least, they should be left in fear.

By the virtue of democracy, I twice served as the Prime Minister. At both terms I tried to combat corruption. I think corruption makes beautiful Mongolia look ugly. I sincerely believe that the true enemy of democracy and freedom is corruption. (Applause)
Not my mouth, but my heart says these words. The worst theft is corruption which damages people’s common rights and liberties. To me, combatting corruption is not a promise. It is my nature, my character. I am convinced that fighting corruption must be one of the most important duties of the Mongolian State today. I earnestly want to help my people to clean our country from corruption. This is my goal. I will work to achieve this goal. (Applause)
I am shocked to a see a person I thought to be utterly honest, to take up the cudgels for the darga – the boss. Of course, money does talk. How can we establish justice without holding the officials who tread down laws and justice? I know, official positions, money, parties and fractions, homeys, friends and siblings ties are strong. But if you were to yield to such powers, why would you demand justice from me? (Applause). We should never bend to knee to such forces. (Applause)
People’s rights and benefits demand to fight against corruption. Why? Because a prosperous and comfortable life can build upon not the money, but on rule of law, equal application of law for all. Punishing a guilty means protecting the rights of innocent people. Public service is a job to help people, to lessen people’s burden and miseries. I said to my people I would straighten up their backs. Combatting corruption means helping my people straighten their backs. It is a sin to steal what belongs to others, to the people. (Applause)
Opposite, public servants must fight with those who steal, who deprive others of what belongs to them. Our public servants must demonstrate a role model in this cause. Mongols regard the State with deep esteem, Mongolian people’s perception of State is deep, untainted, sacred. People criticize the State not because they dislike it, but only because they worry to prevent bad practices in State affairs. A good State must steer clear of bad practices. Corruption and hypocracy are bad. They exist in bad countries with bad governments, with bad State. The State of Mongolia is a democratic State with honorable history and traditions. It has always been the State of the people. Moreover, people who had not mended their homes, their bodies, their minds, would not even let closer to the State.

Public service is a service to be carried out by people with right minds, right thinking and mindset. Public service is a service to the people. This is a service to carry the heavier, more difficult loads for people. Public service is a virtuous deed. The State supports those who are in despair, in need, in discomfort. Following, enforcing, implementing law is a matter of honor. The State supports such honorable citizens. There were times when breach of law would seem to look honorable. The citizen obeying, enforcing, implementing law is a good citizen with high integrity. A state serviceman has to stand out among others by his very culture of respecting and following the law. The higher the position a state serviceman serves the higher that culture should be. A state serviceman should be a person friendly to justice, and not an enemy to it. A state serviceman must have air of discipline and rule of law. You all would agree that a person who had served in the Army looks different, right? Just like this. State servicemen must be distinguished by their respect and enforcement of law. If the law, court calls for one, he must get up, put on his tie and shoe and appear in front of law. He must appear anywhere the law tells him to appear (Applause).
If a call of law is ignored, the law comes after you. If you do not appear voluntarily, the law comes after you to force you to appear. (Applause). In this way, Mongolian laws must be enforced.

There are good people among the newcomers. However, the good majority is pulled down by the bad minority.
Mending the State means first of all, fixing the laws, regulations and the system. We just can’t afford to wait more hoping a person to correct, rectify himself. How well does a public servant fit the high standards and criteria the people set is a question to be responded first. Not all the people in the government and those who are willing to work in the government are bad people. There are many good people among them – people who have high morale and ethics, who have right mindset, attitudes, who distinguish between private and public and who respect law. There are scary people among them too. Let’s assume those who are in office already could be replaced or displaced, but look also at those who are arriving in the government anew. Some race to the State seeing it as money. (Applause). But, there are good people among the newcomers as well. Yet we must beware, the good majority is pulled down by the bad minority.
It is a danger if people, who can’t tell the right from wrong apart, who can’t distinguish public from private come to the State. There were times in the Mongolian State when this was a matter of fact. It is worth to warn those people rushing to be in the State. Public service is a professional job. This is not a job for people who lack righteousness, rectitude, ethics. The work of a public servant will require even more professionalism and performance, will become even tougher and the responsibilities will heighten. I think it wouldn’t hurt to remind those in race to the State to calm down; please don’t mistake and land on a planet completely alien to you. (Applause)

From May 1 2012, the “Law to Regulate Public Service and Private Interests, and to Prevent Conflict of Interests” comes into effect. The title “State Serviceman” will be changed into “Public Servant”. And the content and scope has changed. Before a person comes to serve the public, according to the new law, he or she is to fill out a statement. Within 30 days of appointment to the position, he\she must fill out the statement on public and private interests. The assets and income declaration statement state servicemen fill out today is nothing compared to this statement. (Applause)

I do not believe it if a person, who didn’t care for the people, would start caring after leaving the public office
“Things are getting complicated” –is what should come to the mind now. If a conflict of interests arises while on the discharge of official duties, immediately, a statement must be produced. You will have to leave the office if you provided an advantage to someome when issuing a license, a special permit, or working in a tender bid commission or disposing aid and loan. This is what becomes the order of the day. And the system will further be polished out. Changes are being taken place. (Applause).
The old folks are mostly the people who we already know. These are the people who have already shown to the public who they are; people who have demonstrated their work. In fact, there is one principle in the State, in the politics. If a person already got known to the people by his one-time service, this is enough; people can’t afford time to meet him again but anew. (Applause)
The people need a better, a more honest and just servant. I would never believe it if a person while in office did not care, did not love his people, would care for them from a distance, after leaving the public service. (Applause). I wouldn’t believe it if someone who tramped law under feet while in the State would come to revere justice after the office. (Applause). I would not believe if a person, while in office, gave away most of the mineral licenses, would return to the public service to stop this practice. I also don’t believe it if a person while in public service stole from the State would recognize his guilt from afar, after distancing the State. I don’t believe if a person returns to the public service to destroy, to do away what he had created and built while in public service. He can’t do away both his virtues and sins. And especially, he cannot destroy the corruption web. (Applause)
A vocabulary of a person who left the public service can change, but his nature, character never changes. (Applause)
We must support women at all levels of the Mongolian State
Do you know what I believe in? I would believe it earnestly if women enter the politics. (Applause). Why? Because, women, by their very nature, are different from men by the role they play in the family, where they live and work. Women see things without bias, women are the first to help those in need. (Applause). They enter home and sense right away their mother, their elders have no tea to drink. By their intuition a woman feels her child is hungry and crying. (Applause). This is the way to look at the society in its entirety, in full and complete colors. Women run to help those in need and despair and not to those about money and power. By nature, women share, women divide, you all know this from your lives. (Applause). Women share the power they have, the wealth they create. Have you ever heard of corrupt women; of a woman-dictator? (Applause).
Women must be supported and each and every level of the Mongolian State. This is where we have not done enough. Mongolia ranks high by her human development index and indicators. We must admit, women’s participation is not sufficient in the state representative organs, their role in the politics is limited. Our history tells us how wonderful our women are. In that sense, Mongolia stands out. Our women kept the hearth at home, kept the State running. That historic might, that heroism is in the flesh of the modern Mongolian women. Therefore, I will support and welcome women first if they enter politics. I wish my people support and embrace our women in politics. (Applause)

Full powers are not an immunity to escape justice and rule of law
I do believe in one another virtue. I would believe it if a person whose name is stained with corruption would not work for the State again. If our political parties do really want to clean the mess, to mend the State, they should abstain from nominating such people in the election. (Applause). Please do not nominate. Full powers of a public servant are not an immunity, or a shield to escape law and justice. There are many issues that need to be addressed around the State Great Khural (the Parliament) and the Government. There are issues that the State Great Khural and the Government are not tackling. For instance, the legal regulation of the immunity of a Member of the State Great Khural, under the Law on the State Great Khural. The Constitutional Court annulled the only legal regulation on the immunity of MPs. The article cancelled by the Constitutional Court read “if an MP was caught at the act of committing the crime”. Actually, who has ever been caught “at the very act”? We see today how hard it is to catch a corrupt many years after the “act”. Also, the article said “with the evidence”. Which corrupt would be holding evidences against one self in hand? (Applause)
Therefore, I will initiate this law. I will initiate the law on the immunity. (Applause). The law will address that “at the act” part, the “evidences” part, also an official’s case, conflict of interest case, also a part which would provide for an MP to be called off the Parliament if his or her involvement in a crime was proven through investigations of legal organs. (Applause). Only after instituting such a law, will the Mongolian State become responsible. Only after having enacted this law, will the Mongolian State be cleaned. Otherwise, who do you want to bring into the State in the place of those who are serving the State today. If the people in the public service stay away from corruption, if they don’t breach laws, why would they be scared of that law or any legal provision? That clause, the article must be in the law. Speaking of which, the clothes of the Members of the Parliament must be thinned.
Let a Member of the Parliament and the Government member wear thin clothes.
Another law has been submitted. A law prohibiting a Member of the Parliament to be a Member of the Cabinet concurrently. (Applause)
I want the State Great Khural approve this law. Indeed, executive power and a law-making authority should not be conferred upon the same person concurrently. There is no need to put on a man wearing a Member’s cloth another cloth of a Minister. Let them wear thin clothes. If we do so, the Parliament can hold the Government accountable. (Applause)
The skies of the Mongolian justice and accountability must clear out from atop. How can the Parliament demand the double, thickly-clothed Government to work? It just cannot. How can such a Government lead the people to prosperity and good deeds? I used to wear the thick clothing, I was a part of the crowd too, but it didn’t work. If one is a Member of the Cabinet, let him or her, except the Prime Minister, not be appointed as a Member of Parliament. I was Prime Minister, without being a Member of the Parliament, and it worked. There is one more law. We know of talks about 1, 2, 3 billions. We must stop this, period. This is the greatest bias that distorts the principle of division of governance powers. Therefore, the Parliament should not have any rights to inflate and expand the budgetary expenditures submitted by the Government. Moreover, there are even countries where Parliaments do not have a right to initiate tax laws. This would help maintain the balance, the equilibrium. Such jobs must be done. Maybe, some of the Members of the Parliament do not like as I speak this out. Well, we are here to do jobs even if we don’t like them. (Applause).