Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mongolia Brief July 1, 2014 V

Water, sewage and heating services to be provided to 30,000 residents

July 1 (UB Post) Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar and Permanent Representative of Asia Development Bank in Mongolia Robert Schoellhammer signed the first phase of a loan agreement on the “Ger Areas Development and Investment Support Program” last Saturday, June 28.
At the signing ceremony, Deputy Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, responsible for construction, urbanization and investment issues, S.Ochirbat was also present to co-sign the document. Chairman of the Capital City Council D.Battulga, Chief of the Ulaanbaatar Governor’s Office Yo.Gerelchuluun, and other officials attended the signing ceremony.
The three-year project objectives are to restructure the ger districts in Ulaanbaatar with the participation of residents, expand the water supply, sewage and heating service, and improve social and economical infrastructure. The Bayankhoshuu and Selbe areas, indicated as strategic development territories in the Ulaanbaatar General Development Plan, will be developed as sub-centers of Ulaanbaatar. As a result, water, sewage and heating services, paved roads, parks and technical and vocational education and training centers will be built in ger districts, and thus, comfortable ger districts will be established.
Asia Development Bank and European Investment Bank will provide soft loans, commercial loans, and grants totalling 82.08 million USD. The Ulaanbaatar City Administration will finance 22.42 million USD, and a total investment of 104.5 million USD will be provided for the program.
Upon successful implementation of the program, sub-centers with highway and engineering infrastructure will be established, and the efficiency of financial and state services will be improved.
Bayankhoshuu sub-center:
It will cover the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 28th khoroos of Songinokhairkhan district.
Current number of residents: 21,102
Selbe sub-center:
It will cover the 14th khoroo of Sukhbaatar District, and the 14th and 18th khoroos of Chinggeltei District.
Current number of residents: 10,443
The Ministry of Economic Development reported that a total of 12,000-22,500 jobs will be created in the scope of the program.

Cars parked in restricted areas to be wheel clamped

July 1 (UB Post) The Ulaanbaatar City Traffic Monitoring Center (UCTMC) has been towing away cars parked on the first lane of roads to reduce traffic congestion since September last year.
However, drivers have been repeatedly complaining that they do not receive any notifications before towing or information about which impound facilities are storing their cars. Therefore, the UCTMC has formulated a new regulation that will put wheel clamps on the front tires of cars parked at restricted areas after towing them to a nearby place where they do not cause any congestions.
Parking is mostly restricted at green areas, sidewalks, footpaths and public squares and streets.
Drivers who had their cars wheel clamped will pay 20,000 MNT to the UCTMC to release the locks. Wheel clamped cars will be towed away to impound facilities if drivers do not pay the fee and have their cars released from the clamp within the working hours of that day.

Composer discusses rehabilitation of an ancient Mongolian instrument

July 1 (UB Post) Ganpurev Dagvan, who rehabilitated Altai Zither, an ancient Mongolian instrument, spoke with UB Post about his work.
Ganpurev Dagvan is the bandleader of Boerte, a Mongolian ethnic music and throat singing group, head of the Mongolian Music Agency and Mongolian Zither Association and founder of Altai Folk Band. He won the German Record Critics Award in 2005.
A concert celebrating the rehabilitation of Altai Zither was held in Mongolia on May 16, 2014 at Asa Circus. The instrument has been brought abroad and is being played in concerts near Yakut, Russia.
Can you speak about how Altai Zither was discovered and studied?
Altai Zither is a traditional Mongolian string instrument discovered in May 2008 by Dandar Namsrai in burial cairns of Jargalant Khairkhan Mountain, in Mankhan soum of Khovd Province.
Scientists of the Institute of Archeology studied the findings, who originally thought the instrument might be a descendant of the morin khuur or lute. However, the Kazakhs thought the instrument might have originated from their traditional instrument, khuvis.
During research, the instrument was actually identified as originating from a Mongolian bowed zither. For Mongolians, this instrument is considered to be an ancient historical monument. In addition, it proves that ancient nomads had a bowed zither and is the source of many instruments.
This instrument was used during the Turkic period, the seventh century.
How was the instrument rehabilitated?
It has been six years since Altai Zither was found.
When they initially found the artifact, they didn’t know that it was a musical instrument. Some scientist did not even think about rehabilitating it, but I could see its value. This is from a culture of 1400 years ago.
At first in 2008, German musicologist Susanna Schultz thought this instrument might be similar to a bowed zither of Myanmar. She created similar instrument that looked like a ship. But her conclusion was inaccurate.
After that, in 2013, I went to Germany to see the real instrument for myself. In terms of time, it refers to the Turkic period and ibex was the symbol of Turkic at that time. That is why the head of Altai Zither looks like an ibex.
Furthermore, I created the technique for playing the zither. Famous harpist Munkh-Erdene played the zither for the first time.
Who helped you with this work?
Rehabilitating Altai Zither was not only my work. It was thanks to lot of people’s support and hard work. To mention them, L.Dashnyam, president of the Mongolian Tradition Academy, composer N.Jantsannorov,  craftsman P.Baigalijav of Egshiglen Magnai National Instrument Producing Factory, harpist Ch.Munkh-Erdene, and Doctor and Professor of Art Studies J.Enebish.
Another very interesting thing was discovered about Altai Zither. Inside Altai Zither, the Orkhon’s Script [an alphabet] or Runi Script, was found. There were 64 characters inside Altai Zither. The head of the Turkish Study Department of the National University of Mongolia, doctor Ts.Battulga, decoded the script. The script was used for three generations. At that time, the instrument was called Yaylaga, which means ayulguu (melody) in Mongolian. Turkish warrior Chure was its owner and he used to play melodies, one of which became a historic peom.
How have people received the instrument, do many people know about Altai Zither?
It is still very exciting and fascinating that Altai Zither could save itself for 1400 years from natural disasters and damages. Even just by playing it, I feel magic and strong power.
I think this musical instrument has to be developed for hundreds and hundreds of years. Unfortunately, Mongolians’ attitude and knowledge on it is very low and also state policy for cultural development is not enough.
The government spends huge amounts of money on festivals and holidays, but they dedicate very little amount on cultural protection and development.
Defining the time period of traditional instruments is still quite hard but we have achieved this with this ancient musical instrument. Unfortunately, over 70 percent of traditional instruments are produced in China, so how can we say these are Mongolian traditional instruments?
Tradition and culture is proof that we have existed for a long time and we have to protect our culture for future generations.

A.Bakei: Even with 13 holidays a year, the economy will not be affected drastically

July 1 (UB Post) A.Bakei is an experienced politician who’s been working as the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment, Food and Agriculture from 2005 to 2006, during his time as MP from 2004 to 2008. He is currently the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on State Structure.
On June 27, the Standing Committee on State Structure held the first meeting on the legal draft on national and public holidays. During the meeting, the committee discussed extending Naadam Festival celebration to five days, which was proposed by MP N.Battsetseg. After the meeting, A.Bakei gave details regarding the issue.
The legal draft to extend Naadam Festival celebration to five days was discussed by the Standing Committee and received support from majority of the members. If this law is approved in the plenary session of Parliament, will it be implemented starting this year’s Naadam Festival?
The Standing Committee on State Structure held the first meeting on the legal draft on national and public holidays. The members didn’t have any opposing opinions regarding the draft and the majority supported the draft on its first meeting, which was initiated by MP N.Battsetseg. All that’s remaining is the approval stage after it’s discussion in the plenary session of Parliament.
By enacting this law, the Mongolian national holiday of Naadam Festival, which is held from July 11 to 13 this year, can be extended until July 15. We’re trying to reflect comments made by members about regulations if the five day holiday falls on weekends.
Many members suggested making the following two days a public holiday as stated in the Labor Law if the holidays stipulated in the law fall on weekends, Saturday and Sunday. Therefore, the Standing Committee on Structure established a special task force specifically for this issue.
The task force is preparing to do detailed studies and make major amendments in the Law on National and Public Holidays. Within this framework, the legal environment to extend the length of holidays if it falls on the weekends will be approved.
They’re also studying legal environment opportunities for having NGOs carry out duties of governmental organizations during national festivals. For instance, make organizations such as the Mongolian Wrestling Federation, National Racing Association, and the National Archery Association take responsibilities for festival arrangements. Similar issues are also being looked into.
It’s almost certain that this draft will be approved in the plenary session of Parliament. By having a five day holiday during Naadam, how many holidays will Mongolians have in total?
If this draft is approved, Mongolians will have 13 days of holidays each year. From other countries’ experience, it was proven that if people can rest and enjoy festivals correctly, their stress and exhaustion reduces immensely and their productivity increases significantly. This is a proven fact with many studies backing it.
The most important feature of a holiday is that the whole nation should rest, enjoy and celebrate the festival. There’ll not be any significant repercussion in the economy if the public has 13 days of holidays. Most importantly, we should focus on celebrating it well until we recover from our exhaustion.
Some people interpret the hastened approval procedure of this draft as an attempt to give a short amount of rest to people who are distressed about the “100 day plan to intensify the economy”. Can you comment on this?
Mongolians think of resting somewhere when they hear it is a holiday. In fact, holidays are essential for advertising and introducing Mongolia’s remarkable traditions, customs, culture and history which no other country has. It is also crucial for making tourists understand the true meaning of Mongolian national and public holidays, making the people bond and getting closer as well as showing Mongolia’s development, and how much effort the people are giving for it.
I’m sure that there will not be many people who will come forth to condemn and find faults in giving a chance for a good rest and festivity to enjoy a Mongolian national festival of summer. There’s no need to misunderstand this and think that only government officials will rest and celebrate. Certainly, private sectors will manage their work schedule for their workforce, get a good rest and enjoy the festival. Overall, we shouldn’t be determined to find faults in everything as it may destroy even things that would have been successful.
Furthermore, I’d also like to mention that this five day holiday will give new beneficial opportunities for private sectors to sell their newly produced products, find new customers and partners, do industrial promotions, and find a new space in the business field.
Chairman of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Jemil Chichek and his wife visited Mongolia recently. As the Chairman of the Mongolian-Turkish Parliamentary Group in Parliament, how do you assess the significance and outcome of Jemil Chichek’s visit?
We can say that the visit of Jemil Chichek is a meaningful historical visit. The main issue discussed during the conference of Speaker of Mongolian Parliament Z.Enkhbold was about the substantial cooperation of the two countries to introduce the world famous Turkish leather processing technology in Mongolia. Both sides agreed to produce products capable of competing in the world market together.
Bolu City in Turkey is one of the world’s largest industrial hum for leather processing. A major success of the visit was that Jemil Chichek informed that he’ll arrange Bolu to work with a specific Mongolian province or city and put in effort to establish a permanent friendly relation with Mongolia. In addition, we had the first discussion to exchange urban development experiences and build a considerably large apartment district in Mongolia in the future.
We also discussed and agreed on many other important issues such as the renewal and expansion of treatment facilities of big provinces and cities with a loan from Turkey and make decisions for the hydroelectric power station planned in Khovd River in Bayan-Ulgii Province with participation of the Turkish private sector. The Mongolian side gained a lot of faith and confidence as Jemil Chichek is personally taking responsibility for these matters, assigning and providing directions to relevant officials as soon as he returns to Turkey.
As the Chairman of the Mongolian-Turkish Parliamentary Group and as a man who shares the same religion and customs as Turkey, do you have plans to connect Bayan-Ulgii Province with Turkey?
Of course, I do. During the visit, Jemil Chichek was happy to hear that we have intentions to establish a friendly relation and permanent cooperation with a specific county or city of Turkey.  Not to mention that he wanted to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
The Chairman of the Mongolian-Turkish Parliamentary Group of the Turkish side himself came to visit. The two of us had a very good conversation and he expressed his support for all of my above propositions. The work for these matters will begin very soon.
During your tenure, what sorts of construction work are you planning to do at Bayan-Ulgii Province? In general, currently in Bayan-Ulgii Province, what sort of major construction works are being implement?
As a province located farthest in the west of Mongolia, the foremost matter has always been road and transportation issues. There are many difficulties for Bayan-Ulgii Province. Specific constructions are still being done. As for roads, it’ll be included in the Mongolian vertical road corridor construction, which will shortly begin with financing from the Asian Development Bank. When this work is completed in approximately a year, Mongolia will have an asphalt road from Bayan-Ulgii Province to Khovd Province.
In order to develop small and medium-sized businesses, we developed blueprints for an industrial complex for processing raw agricultural materials in Ulgii City, with China and other countries. The complex is ready for implementation. Also, a closed market was built and commissioned in Ulgii with funds from the state budget.
We got the first results for the long discussed work to operate Asgat mine. After the on-site visit last autumn by the Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold and Minister of Mining D.Gankhuyag, the work to commence Asgat mine was recuperated once again. Most importantly, road issues must be urgently resolved as it passes through Russia. Bridge and road issues to shorten the distance are being resolved from scratch. A project unit was established at the Ministry of Mining for commencing Asgat mine and is now working efficiently.
We’re planning to negotiate and make progress regarding this issue with Russia in the near future. Since Asgat mine has multiple mineral deposits and not just silver, complex technology solutions are necessary, which Mongolia is having difficulties in acquiring.
Source: Ugluunii sonin

Mongolian para-taekwondo team places fifth at World Championship

July 1 (UB Post) The World Para-Taekwondo Championship took place in Moscow, Russia on June 21 and 22.
A total of 111 athletes from 37 countries participated in the two-day championship.
Six Para-taekwondo athletes from Mongolia competed in the tournament and won gold and silver medals, with 21 points.
In the team results, Mongolia stood at fifth place.
The host country, Russia took three gold, three silver and four bronze medals, with a total of 71 points.
Russia was followed by Iran, which won two gold and one silver, with 31 points. Turkey came next with two gold and one bronze medals, with 31 points. Azerbaijan finished fourth with one gold and one bronze, with 28 points.

Deeltei Mongol 2014 festival to take place

July 1 (UB Post) The Deeltei Mongol festival has become a customary event following the National Naadam Festival.
The 8th Deeltei Mongol festival is expected to take place at the Chinggis Square on June 13. During the festival, participants wear the most elaborate Mongolian national garments, the deel.
Awards will be given to participants with the best deels.
The categories include, best-dressed boy and girl, best foreigner wearing deel, best pair dancers wearing deel, best couple wearing deel, the most beautiful deel, and the most active organization.
Registration of participants started yesterday.
The agenda of the festival
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Opening ceremony
2:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. – National folk art performance
2:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – National costume fashion show
2:30 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. – The youngest participant with deel competition
2:50 p.m. to 3:05 p.m. – Art performance
3:05 p.m. to 3:35 p.m. – The best couple wearing deel competition
3:35 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Public games
4:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. – The best foreigner wearing deel competition
4:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Awarding ceremony
4:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. – The most active organization competition
4:45 p.m. to 5:15 pm. – Public dance
5:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Art performance and awarding ceremony
5:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. – The best couple of public dance competition
5:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. – Closing ceremony

Remembering ‘White Nights of Leningrad’

July 1 (UB Post) The opening of “White Nights of Leningrad” by artist B.Otgontuvden at 976 Art Gallery on June 25, was a sensational event for the artist and art lovers of Mongolia. The reception was crowded with art collectors, artists, and people who had lived and studied in Leningrad, now named Saint Petersburg. Mongolia’s first president, P.Ochirbat, made an opening speech supporting the young talent of Mongolia.
The former president said, “Artist B.Otgontuvden is an international figure. It is very hard to enter a graduate program at Repin Academy. He did it. He is working as a teacher there. It is so impressive, that is why he is an international figure.”
Born in 1984, B.Otgontuvden has become the only Mongolian to teach at the Ilya Repin St. Petersburg State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Russia’s largest arts educational institution and one of its most important scientific centers. It is also considered one of the most well-known art schools in the world.
From 2002 to 2004, B.Otgontuvden studied at the Mongolian Institute of Fine Art, majoring in decorative applied science, and from 2004 to 2008, he was a member of the faculty in easel painting at Voronej State Academy of Art. In 2008, he moved to Repin in Saint Petersburg and studied in the studio of Professor V.S. Pesikov. In 2012, he defended his diploma with an “excellent” mark and received a “Best Artist” diploma from the Russian Academy of Arts Council. B.Otgontuvden has been a member of the Saint Petersburg’s Painters Union since 2012.
Here is an interview with B.Otgontuvden, teacher at the Repin Academy of Fine Arts, Sculpture and Architecture, and member of the St. Petersburg Union of Artists.
People who studied in Leningrad always talk about the “white nights” of Leningrad. Does the exhibition stimulate people’s memory?
Yes. Last year I came to Mongolia and exhibited “Clatter Sound”. This year I wanted to display the beauty of Leningrad, where I am living now. The architecture of constructions, museums and buildings is awesome. Sculptures are everywhere. Everyone who visited my exhibition was so impressed.
We heard that you are painting decorations on the ceiling of a church in Italy. Which city?
I started painting on the ceiling of a church in Ravenna, Italy. It is long lasting work. I will go to Italy once or twice in a year and paint. It is the first time that an Asian person has painted the ceiling of a church in Europe.
Mongolians do not know about the distinctive painting classes at the Repin Academy of Fine Arts. You are working as a tutor. When will you become a full time instructor?
Students are divided into ateliers after graduating from their second course. Four teachers work with seven to eight students in an atelier the size of a sport hall. Their three lessons are thought sketch, heliochromy, and composition. Two teachers of my atelier are around 80 years old. My youngest teacher’s age is around 60, so I am considered a child. Three to four students who graduated with me are working as tutors now.

New options for cell phone number ownership

July 1 (UB Post) Phone numbers which start with a 9911 prefix cost 15 million MNT, even if the number’s last four digits are not “lucky” numbers. Cell phone number sellers say that these numbers could be even more expensive, however they are very marketable. Many businessmen buy such numbers to phone officials, which will help with their work, because many people decline simple numbers thinking that they are unsolicited callers.
Showing off one’s wealth is very common among Mongolians nowadays. This could be having an expensive car with a big engine, when even the fuel costs would be too expensive for others, using cellular numbers of the most expensive mobile operators, or buying an expensive cell phone on credit equivalent to almost three months’ salary.
Mobile operators suggest that numbers starting with 9911, 9191 and 9111 offer a guarantee of authority to their users. The number holders will pay a premium for them. In 2012, Mobile operators announced a competition, such that they would present one of their “gold numbers” to the first Olympic champion. But, not having any gold numbers left, G-Mobile directly to the account and took the number of one of their customers to give tothe first Olympic champion.
Individuals and businesses won’t change their phone numbers because they are afraid of losing contact with their customers and people know their numbers by heart. That is the main reason why people use their old numbers, not really caring about service tariffs.
On June 26th, a proposal to make a change to the Law on Communication was presented to Parliament, which decided to review it.
In 1995, licenses for cellular phone operators were first given out. Now, in the market of cellular communication, there are four organizations at work: Mobicom LLC, Skytel LLC, Unitel LLC, and G-Mobile LLC.
Originators of the new legal proposal state that 12.21 percent of all consumers of cellular communication are “post-pay” customers (they pay at the end of each month), leaving 87.79 percent as advance pay customers. Last year’s data shows that the number of cellular communication users reached roughly 4,247,400. The overall rate of penetration of mobile communication has reached 144.9 percent, which is more than the world average of 51.8 percent. In other words, some individuals are using two or more cell phones, depending on tariff conditions.
If the proposal is adopted, cellular communication will have a new service, called “proceed with number”.
This means the customer can move from one operating company to another with the same number. In the 1990s, many countries started using this service, which satisfies many consumers. By July 2012, 39 countries in Europe, nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region, 12 countries in the Americas, 13 countries in Africa – 73 countries overall – were using this service, and in 2013-2014, five additional countries adopted it.
This service will be beneficial to customers.People who change their operator would no longer need to change their business cards and remind everyone that they have changed their phone number.
Operator companies will be encouraged to offer customers a low tariff instead of a guarantee of authority. In addition, we won’t need as many operator companies as we have today, and we will receive better and cheaper service.
This article has been edited for clarity.

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