Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mongolia Brief May 6, 2014 Part III



Ulaanbaatar residents look for affordable homes at Barilga Expo-2014
May 7 (UB Post) Government and non-governmental organizations jointly held the sixth Barilga Expo from April 25 to May 5.

Based on the city residents’ request, the expo had two separate fairs. The first featured construction materials and related hi-tech products and services from over 200 local and foreign companies for three days starting from April 25. The second fair showcased apartments and house designs from Friday to Sunday, with over 100 companies that have constructed around 60 apartment towns.
The organizers reported, “Residents seemed to be more interested in apartment towns located in the outskirts of the city. We have also noticed that they are paying close attention to standards of infrastructure and design of the apartments, rather than just focusing on price.”
Apartment prices varied depending on their location, infrastructure development, construction material quality and beneficial designs.
Average price per square meter of one to two-room apartments that residents are most interested in was 1.5 to 2.5 million MNT.
A visitor at the expo, G.Bayarmaa said, “I can see apartment prices have increased a great deal. However, I saw several towns offering reasonably priced apartments here. If we pay the whole cost of the apartment, we could recieve discounts. But the question is how many families can afford to pay the whole price. I’m looking into the loan criteria now.”
Orchlon Construction reduced the price of its apartments in 21st khoroo in Songinokhairkhan District to 1.74 million MNT per square meter. Those who ordered an apartment at the expo recieved a 200,000 MNT discount.
Another highlight of the expo was the Tumen Amgalan Complex which is under construction in the 12th khoroo of Bayanzurkh District as part of a ger area redevelopment project. Grand Line LLC is executing the complex construction.
The complex is being built with investment and standards from Turkey and it will start receiving orders from buyers soon. Price per square meter is 1,350 USD and it will drop to 1,150 USD if the cost is paid in advance.
Order contracts will be validated if residents pay ten percent of the total cost in advance, while the remaining 20 percent of the advance payment can be paid within 18 months before the complex opening. Residents can pay the remaining 70 percent with housing loans.
Residents who are planning to or who have already started their private house constructions were able to obtain practical advice and assistance from professional businesses at the expo.


‘Let’s Resolve with Innovation’ consultation held
May 7 (UB Post) The government’s monthly consultation meeting “Let’s Resolve with Innovation” was organized under the theme “Let’s Create in Mongolia: Project to replace imports and increase exports” with the presence of authorities from the Development Bank, authorities from commercial banks, owners of projects, and representatives of relevant agencies and ministries.
New Government of Changes declared 2014 the Year of Industrialization and reached a decision to spend one trillion MNT on developing industrialization, announcing the selection of projects to replace imports and promote exports under the initiative “Let’s Create in Mongolia”. At the meeting, Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag emphasized that the projects should be launched soon and financed in May.
A loan or financing is being granted to qualified individuals and entities who submitted their projects to a commercial bank, and the banks deliver a request for financing to the Development Bank. The Development Bank established an agreement with 13 commercial banks. Some 888 projects which fulfilled standards and criteria in the first phase have been transferred to these banks and commercial banks have began research on the projects. Once their loan documents and materials are complete, a project is submitted to Development Bank within two weeks by the commercial banks. Loans will be granted in MNT for a term of five years and loan interest will not be higher than nine percent, reported CEO of Development Bank N.Munkhbat.
Projects which requested loans of two billion MNT or less are to be financed from an SME fund. There are a total of 579 projects which require such financing. The total loan amount for these projects reached 560 billion MNT. The fund will resolve and make decisions on the projects in accordance with its internal regulations and rules. Other projects will be supervised and transferred to the working group headed by the Prime Minister, and the government will make final decisions accordingly.
According to the CEO of Development Bank, the commercial banks will issue loans equivalent to two thirds of the total cost of the project and the executing entity of the project will be responsible for one third of the total cost.
Project developers and initiators made suggestions at the end of the meeting, offering that support is needed in importing raw materials to make products, and that information regarding what projects and businesses received loans should be made available to the public.
Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar noted that financing will be granted without difficulty once selected projects meet the demands and criteria of commercial banks.
Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag gave duties to Development Bank to intensify the loan granting procedure and advised project owners to deliver their comments and requests regarding project election and loan granting issues to the government’s “11 11” hotline.


District hospitals receive medical equipment
May 7 (UB Post) Chinggeltei and Songinokhairkhan district hospitals acquired 53 blood pressure monitors made by Japanese Omron Corporation.
Additional 89 monitors will be imported soon to Mongolia as part of the “Health Sector Development Program-3” which is a joint project launched after the assistance treaty was made between the government of Mongolia and an Asian Development Bank in 2007.
A fund of 387 million MNT was issued from the Minister of Health’s budget in 2014 for the purchase of 89 monitors. Each monitor costs 612,000 MNT.
Over 450 blood pressure monitors are required at each soum and district hospitals in Mongolia, according to a study by the Ministry of Health (MH).
The Omron i-Q132 blood pressure monitor is fully automatic and offers reliable and exact upper arm measurement. All patients visiting hospitals will be obliged to receive a checkup with the monitor.
The MH has launched a nationwide push to improve medical services throughout the country this year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) study revealed that 55 to 60 percent of factors leading to diseases are derived from sedentary lifestyle and improper habits. Many common diseases are caused largely due to unhealthy lifestyle and habits, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and injury-derived diseases.
To improve awareness of the public about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, the MH published and distributed a book titled, “21 Habits that Everyone Must Pick Up” to residents of Ulaanbaatar.
Minister of Health N.Udval said, “If everyone in Mongolia practices these 21 habits on day-to-day basis and give up improper habits, we can prevent 90 percent of cardiovascular diseases, 70 percent of diabetes and 50 percent of cancer cases in the country.”


Newera Resources update on Ulaan Tolgoi Project
May 7 (UB Post) Newera Resources Limited reported on its activities for the March quarter 2014 of the Ulaan Tolgoi Project in Mongolia.
Newera reports that during the period it completed a phase one drilling program testing the seismic reflectors interpreted to exist within the southern and far northeastern sectors of the license by seismic consultants Logantek LLC.
The phase one program initially called for two 300 cubic meter deep diamond drilling holes designed to penetrate through the interpreted late Permian P2 sequence into basement.
The company said that due to the recognition of strongly weathered basement in the drill core higher up in the sequence than anticipated, the program was varied to provide an adequate test of the interpreted seismic reflectors and the number of holes was increased to five.
The program commenced with drill hole UTPDH01 which failed to intersect any late Permian strata and was terminated at 152.6 meters. UTPDH01 was followed by UTPDH02, 03, 04 and 05.
UTPDH02 intersected a 85 meter thick sequence of unconsolidated Quaternary – Tertiary sand and gravel, underlain by semi-consolidated to consolidated Cretaceous fluvio-lacustrine conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone and claystone with common molluscan shells.
UTPDH03 uncovered a 77.6 meter thick unconsolidated sequence dominated by pebbly sand, underlain by thin (1.05 m) Cretacous clast- supported conglomerate unit. Weathered Silurian-Carboniferous volcanic basement was intersected at 78.55 meters. UTPDH04 intersected a 150 meter thick unconsolidated – semi-consolidated Tertiary-Cretaceous sequence characterized by pebbly sand, Aeolian sand, and fine- grained flood basin deposits. UTPDH05 uncovered a 230 meter thick unconsolidated sequence strongly dominated by well sorted fine- grained Aeolian sand. Initial interpretation and modeling of the Ulaan Tolgoi seismic program results by Logantek indicated a number of strong seismic reflectors underlying lines A, E, B, F and D of the seismic survey.
The next step for Newera is to consider a change of focus to the northern sector where nearly two kilometers north of the Ulaan Tolgoi license boundary, black coal has been discovered outcropping on the edges of erosion gullies within an elongate sub-basin which appear to intersect the northern boundary of the Ulaan Tolgoi tenement. The Ulaan Tolgoi project is located in the South Gobi region of Mongolia – 100 kilometers from the Chinese Border.
In terms of coal, the South Gobi province of Mongolia is known as the epi-center of recent exploration and mining developments, particularly for coking coal and high energy thermal coal within southern Mongolia. The Ulaan Tolgoi License is a large license covering 43,000 hectares in area.


Press freedom and the rights of journalists
May 7 (UB Post) Requiring sources to be transparent, supervising journalists’ articles, prohibiting articles from being published, and putting pressure on journalists are just some of the issues that negatively impact journalists’ rights and press freedom. This is an issue that touches all countries around the world. In connection with this issue, in 1993 the United Nations General Assembly announced the recognition of May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day. The main reason for celebrating this day is to end the persecution of the press and journalists, and to inform the public that these injustices encroaching on freedom are still active in society. Moreover, this day is a reminder of the value of press freedom and recognizing the ethical standards that governments and press organization officials should be held to.
For this year’s World Press Freedom Day, the UNESCO National Commission, Globe International Center and the Confederation of Mongolian Journalists organized a round table meeting. A variety of press organizations and departments attended the meeting and discussed the Mongolian press sector in depth. They all agreed on one thing: the need to pass a law on press freedom.
The 2014 World Press Freedom Index covered 180 countries and Mongolia was ranked 88th as a result of talking about and taking action on many things related to press freedom. Compared to the previous year, Mongolia has made progress. Last year, Mongolia ranked 99th. Finland tops the index for the fourth year and the last position is held by Eritrea. When the index was published, specialists and researchers spoke about press freedom and its ongoing challenges.
We spoke with Mongolia’s round table delegates about these issues.
D. Munkhburen, lawyer with Globe International Center
 Approximately 670 journalists lost their lives in the past two decades. Nine of the ten detained journalists have not been sentenced. There is an attitude that this thing has become normal in our society. We should pay attention to it. Behind all these things, press freedom and the rights of journalists are being violated. We need a really good law that ensures our rights.
Kh.Battushig, General Secretary of the Confederation of Mongolian Journalists
 We are discussing development trends after 2015. We are mostly working to improve the skills of journalists. We are announcing the celebration of World Press Freedom Day not only one day, but as a month long campaign. Therefore, cooperating with the National Emergency Management Agency, we are working on journalists’ security.
Andrea Cairola, Communications and Information Advisor, UNESCO Beijing
In 2013, UNESCO appealed for attention to the following program “For a Brighter Future, Press Freedom: Intensifying the development program”. Now we are facing a very important moment to define a new goal. Today, we are discussing how we will implement the things we have talked about.


Educating to Compete or Cooperate?
May 7 (UB Post) On a recent visit to the Early Childhood Center of the Zurich International School in Switzerland – organized much like the good kindergartens here in Mongolia – I learned that the focus of the activities for the three to six year olds there is on teaching the very young children to work together, to help each other and to think of the group rather than only of themselves. This early introduction to cooperative behavior influences the attitudes of these children towards their classmates, their friends and basically towards the society they live in. They learn the importance of friendship and cooperation. Group work and collaboration can be stressed throughout a child’s schooling.
After working with schools and universities here in this wonderful country for nearly 15 years, I realize that in the Mongolian classrooms the emphasis is quite different. It seems to me that here each individual student works for himself, wanting to be the one to win a medal, not concerned with his classmates, not considering himself as part of a group. Education here seems to be a continual competition, a struggle to be better than everyone else instead of working together with the other students for the good of the whole group.
Once in Darkhan I offered to correct papers for the students of English if they wanted to write. Quite a few pupils wrote themes, which I then read and corrected. When I had finished, one of the girls asked me who had won. I had to explain that writing a paper for me was an exercise, a chance to learn and to practice writing, not a competition.
“Olympics,” regional and national competitions in Mongolia – even among teachers – have become much too important, even to the extent of determining teachers’ salaries. Why should teachers compete against each other? Shouldn’t they rather concentrate on working together to generally improve the teaching in their schools? Competition, in most cases, rules out cooperation. Cooperation among teachers, in my opinion, would be more advantageous for everyone involved, both teachers and students.
We individuals – no matter where in the world we live – are all part of a society. When the society is peaceful and productive we all profit from it. A peaceful and productive society needs to support all of its members, whether they succeed brilliantly in the “Olympics” or learn more slowly. Cooperation, the inclusion and respect of all members of a society, not only those at the top of the class, is the glue that holds a society together. Competition cannot do that. In my opinion, competition in its Mongolian form weakens the society. The emphasis on competing at all levels could be replaced by introducing cooperation as a better form of living together.


L.Banzragch: ‘Serelt’ helped me finish school with honors
May 7 (UB Post) This year is the 80th anniversary of Mongolian radio. Over half of these 80 years is related to the work and life of State Honored artist L.Banzragch. His role in “Serelt” film as an empty headed naive monk-in-training who never learns even after being beaten up by his instructor, still remains in the hearts of Mongolians. The following is an interview highlighting important aspects of L.Banzragch’s career and Mongolian radio.
When did you start working in the radio industry? How long did you work?
I was first assigned on orders from the Ministry of Culture in 1961. At the time, Mongolian Radio, MONTSAME Agency and Modern Mongolia Magazine integrated to form the Information Radio Authority of the Council of Ministers, which was led by journalist Zundui Jambal. It had just moved to the third and fourth floor of the current Central Post Office, which was a rather new building back then. The Information Radio Authority had several editorials, and studios and had strengthened its personnel and technology. The radio needed an artist to direct it, so I was assigned there.  At the time, I had worked in the arts and drama industry for five years. After working for 38 years in the radio industry, I retired.
1961 is around 20 years after Mongolian radio was first established. Before that, did you have any experience in the sector?
From my knowledge, in 1956, the radio station was on the second floor of the old Yugoslavian Embassy building which was located on the east side of the current Ministry of Foreign Relations. My first experience with radio was when I went to promote the film I played in. I was interviewed by S.Tsedev, the production director.
Was it for “Serelt” film? Can you share some stories of that time?
Yes. “Serelt” was titled “Och” when it was first screened. Later, it was sent to Russia for translation by Russian actors and was renamed “Serelt.” I played in this film during my sophomore year at the University of Arts and Culture. Fork artist Ts.Tsegmid played my father. I’m always very prideful for having played together with the great T.Tseveenjav, D.Uchinkhorloo as well as G.Dorjpalam, mother of democratic revolution pioneer S.Zorig. At the time, G.Dorjpalam was studying at the University of Health Science. She got us all a whole year paid break from school just to play a role in a film. D.Yanjinjav, G.Dorjpalam and I have only a year age difference. I was 19 and the youngest among us.
How were you chosen to act as the son of Purevjav? Did your instructor Vangan arrange this?
Our instructor told me and another boy named Maam to audition. Over ten actors from the Opera Theater came to audition. Many boys in monk clothing and shoes who had shaved their head were running around at the Kino Uildver building. The fact that instructor Vangan knew my capabilities might have influenced in choosing me for the role. In 1956, I passed the audition and a year was spent on filming, editing and voice over work. A year after that, the opening was held on Great October Revolution Day at Eldev Ochir Cinema. The authorities of the Ministry of Art and Culture congratulated the actors and gave a minimum of 1,500 MNT in cash awards to us.
How much was your award?
2,500 MNT.
It must have been a lot of money at the time. What did you do with it?
It was a lot of money. 500 MNT was spent to celebrate and play around with my classmates, another 500 MNT on a lignite overcoat to wear during spring and autumn and the remaining was used for my parents. At the time, my parents raised livestock in Erdene soum of Tuv Province, so I took a taxi to Gun Galuutai, Erdene soum which is the birthplace of celebrated novelist D.Natsagdorj. At the time, taxis were very rare. You could catch a taxi only around Undur Dovjoo. In a taxi of a driver named Yondon, I headed towards Gun Galuutai. I paid him around 400 MNT, handed the remaining 100 MNT to my parents and the huge sum of money at the time was gone.
Your parents must have been elated to see their son who had rushed to them after taking part in a film.
Indeed. Rumors say that my parents cried a lot when “Serelt” was screened in my birthplace. I heard my mother couldn’t stop crying while saying, “He keeps on beating my poor boy and making him cry.”
So before you were assigned as a radio director, you were what we call now a celebrity?
You could say that. Thanks to the film, I graduated my school with a red diploma which is given to only those who graduate with honors. I graduated the University of Arts and Culture as an actor and director. I also finished the School of Politics as a journalist. Although I finished two schools, I haven’t done anything great. At the time, the standards for intellectuals were high so I probably had to do that. I wanted to continue my studies in Russia but another person was sent instead so I worked as a general director in a theater in Tuv Province for two years. Before returning, I was asked whether I want to go to the Cartoon Theater or work as a director at Mongolian radio. While the salary of arts and culture facilities were only 600 MNT, the radio station gave around 750 MNT. Honestly, I went for the one that paid better. Sosor, who worked at the Ministry of Arts and Culture, advised that I should work in the radio as they both are part of the arts industry. It was true. Even in the radio station, I didn’t falter from arts.
I believe that radio and television is form of classic arts.
When you went into the radio industry, how many directors were there? Were you the only one who directed shows of arts and culture?
During the beginning of the 1950s, only one position of radio director was initially approved and a man named J.Badraa was assigned in that position. When I entered the industry, they already had several directors. For example, announcer Ts.Ragchaa and shanz musician Majigsuren were trained as directors first, and then began working. Even at the Youth and Children’s Editorial, a theater actress named P.Tsendsuren entered as a director before me. She also came from a theater in Khovd Province. After me, G.Altangerel, S.Nyam-Osor and S.Burged entered the radio station followed by many technicians.
Most people don’t know what a radio director does. Can you explain what you did?
A radio director must most importantly work with words. They make detailed plans about how to say something the best way for different aged listeners and how to adjust one’s voice when reading. It’s important that they can adjust the balance of speech, music and sound. On top of that, they need to be able to work closely with broadcasters, announcers and artists. For instance, they need to think about whether to have the Good Morning Show for children be read by broadcasters in the regular manner like in other shows or by children.
The Good Morning Show used children for the scripts. Was this idea initiated many years ago? Perhaps, was it your initiative?
Children’s shows beginning from Good Morning to Afternoon Story Time were produced in the 1960s and 1970s. You could say that using children’s voice to read scripts in children’s shows was my idea. First, I suggested to use a child who can act and has a fine tenor voice suitable for child audiences for broadcasting. Then, I had the authorities make decisions. G.Gombo and M.Chimid set the beginning for it and at the time many excellent young people including Avirmed, Janchiv, Lovon, Shajinbat, Sunduijav, Shagdar and Sosorbaram worked in the Youth and Children’s Editorial. Back then, we brought the current radio announcer Ragchaa from the Cartoon Theater to read scripts for children’s shows. Afternoon Story Time was read by folk artist G.Gombosuren. Like so, we sought for new thing, praised the good and criticized bad ideas.
Were you criticized a lot?
Yes, but if I followed the script I wasn’t criticized. The key priority is the cooperation of journalists, director, editor and announcer.
Was doing ad-libs considered wrong?
Sometimes, there are times when we need to ad-lib. At the time, broadcasting policy was very strict and we followed them strictly. Mongolians try to make their stories more interesting and adds too much things that it becomes difficult to differentiate the truth and lies. They add interesting parts but they don’t make up completely baseless stories so their ad-libs weren’t completely false.

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