Mongolia at ASEP Meeting
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) A parliamentarian R.Amarjargal has taken part in the 8th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP) Meeting which was held October 6-7 in Rome, Italy.
Mr Amarjargal gave a report on Mongolia’s development policy, economy and investments at a meeting themed "The Role of Parliaments in Fostering Europe-Asia Dialogue, Sustainable Growth, and Stronger Governance Structures". Then he reported that Mongolia proposed hosting the 9th meeting of the ASEP in Ulaanbaatar.
With parliamentary leaders and delegates from some 40 countries, the ASEP Meeting in Rome discussed a structure of economic and financial governance and issues of sustainable development and food safety. It released a declaration to be submitted to the ASEM Summit.
ADB Japan director meets State secretary of human development
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) A Country-director of Japan for the Board of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Kazuhiko Koguchi held a meeting Thursday with the state secretary of the Ministry of human development and social welfare of Mongolia B.Otgonjargal.
They discussed cooperation between the ADB, the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) and the Ministry. The Japanese government has been cooperating with many countries on poverty reduction through setting up assets to the ADB. Through the financing from the fund, many projects and programmes on solving problems of Mongolian society have been running successfully, some of them have shown results, for example, a programme on promotion of employment of the disabled.
The State secretary said she is grateful for the fruitful realization of programmes targeted at vulnerable strata and the disabled, implemented jointly with the JFPR, and added that the Ministry is responsible for a policy for these people. “Therefore, we are working to strengthen a legal environment for protection of rights of the disabled to involve them in social life and to inspire them with a faith in life,” she said. She also expressed a willingness to cooperate with the ADB and the JFPR on establishing a center for the disabled and to collaborate in training the staff for the center.
She thanked the guest for USD 1.5 million fund from the JFPR for the renovation of health insurance services of Mongolia and promised to support the works for providing health services for those who lack possibilities of getting medical help.
President’s advisor addresses anti-corruption int’l forum
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) An advisor to the President on human rights and legal policy Ch.Onorbayar has delivered a speech at opening of the “Open Ulaanbaatar-2014” international anti-corruption forum which ran October 6-7 in Ulaanbaatar.
“A society based on freedom is always required to bear a respect for the justice because a regime without the freedom leads to a dictatorship, whereas the freedom without the regime causes wantonness,” he emphasized.
"As the Mongolian President is leading anti-corruption actions, activities of the legal and court bodies have gained some achievements, therefore Mongolia managed to minimize its corruption index in the last two years,” he said.
The leader of Mongolia put forward the “From big government to smart government” initiative last year, "it aims to form a state concept based on clear researches and is focused on services, and it respects the justice and bears responsibilities. In frames of the actions, parliament adopted the law on 'glass' accounts, creating a development fund for localities. Another bill--on public hearing--has been submitted to parliament," he said.
Saying that our neighbour countries intend to the anti-corruption codex of economic cooperation and developmental organizations, Mr Onorbayar underlined an importance of the three countries' joining this codex in order to affirm their attempts to fight against trans-boundary corruption.
Total lunar eclipse observed
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) According to the Astrology and Geophysics Research Center, a total moon eclipse started October 8 at 5.14 pm here. Known as a “blood moon”--the moon turns red--the eclipse was observed at 6.25 in Ulaanbaatar enduring for 59 minutes.
The astrologists claim that lunar eclipses happen twice a year, this was the last one to happen in 2014.
A lunar eclipse happens only when there is a full moon. Eclipse of the moon is a phenomenon that takes place as the moon goes under the shadow of the earth, and as a result of refraction of red light in the atmosphere, the moon turns red. There are two types of lunar eclipses--total and partial.
American bear expert awarded honor
October 9 (news.mn) Dr. Harry Reynolds has been awarded with the Honor of Environment Specialist in Mongolia for his efforts to save and protect Mazaalai, the Gobi Bear.
State Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development J.Batbold at the 23rd International Conference on Bear Research and Management in Thessaloniki, Greece presented the award.
Since 2005, American Dr. Reynolds has been conducting the joint Mongolian-American Gobi Bear Project research project. He has worked mainly toward saving and protecting the Gobi bear, or Mazaalai as it is called in Mongolian. He has been working toward saving the Gobi Bear since he attended “Protection and its management of Mazaalai” an international Conference in Mongolia in 2004. He also gave up his position as President for Alaska Wildlife Associates & International Association for Bear Research and Management for this project.
Dr. Reynolds has devoted 40 years to bear research.
Calls to save and protect snow leopards
October 9 (news.mn) There is good news about an increasing population of saiga antelope in Govi-Altai province of Mongolia in recent years. Unfortunately, poaching is still the most immediate threat to wild life today.
The Environmental Crime Division of the Police Department were warned about crimes of poaching saiga antelope in large numbers for their horns and entering into the Chinese black market.
More cases against poaching Mongolia’s wild life includes the trading of snow leopard are being registered to this division of the police. Authorities are making efforts to save and protect endangered snow leopards because only 800 of the species are estimated to exist in Mongolia.
High demand for workers
By A. Burenjargal
October 9 (Mongolian Economy) A new, automated appeals system is up and running at the Labour Exchange Central Office. According to the Office, the previous system allowed only 400 people at most to appeal in a month. Since the introduction of the new system last month, 3,800 people have appealed.
With the automated system, individuals looking for work can search by job type a in any given area. The search instantly finds job offerings and information, categorised by districts.
The new system has revealed the high discrepancy between the available workforce and the amount of jobs available. “So far there have been about 3,800 people actively searching for a job, yet job offerings reach about 90,000” says Ts. Enkhtuya, Director of the Labour Exchange Central Office. “Jobs such as cooks, accountants, engineers, welders, electricians, construction contractors and all kinds of subsidiary workforce are in high demand.”
Gender pay gap
According to recent data from the National Statistical Office, the salary amount for male workers is higher than for female workers. On this matter Ts. Enkhtuya said, “In terms of salary, it is similar for those working in government sectors. Also, there is no big difference between specialised professions.”
Welders, electricians and plumbers have a relatively high salary, and are mostly chosen by men. Last summer, the average wage for an electrician was MNT 70,000 a day. This is about MNT 2 million a month. Thus the salary gap between men and women differ from what kind of job they have.
Taxation Law to undergo a revision
By S. Az
October 9 (Mongolian Economy) Select members of the Parliament initiated and handed in a draft for the revision of the Individual’s Income Taxation Law. The draft called for the MNT 84,000 income tax deduction to be expanded to MNT 232,000.
With the economic situation worsening, lower to middle income households have seen a decrease in income, while the foreign exchange rate has increased. This situation has netted a decrease in purchasing capacity for households. For that reason, the draft’s associated parliament members said the revision was necessary.
Taxing no less than the minimum wage average, MNT 232,000, would enable citizens with minimum wage to be exempt from income taxation.
According to a recent survey by the Ministry of Labour, there are over 1.1 million active workers, of which about 8.4 percent average the minimum wage. If approved, the project would benefit low income households, said draft law initiators.
Asian Development Bank Update on Mongolia
October 9 (Mongolian Economy) The Asian Development Bank (ADB), in its annual economic outlook publication, projects 6 percent GDP growth for the Mongolian economy in 2014, on par with the rest of developing Asia. Although the rapid economic growth of previous years has slowed, the agriculture sector has exceeded expectations, growing 16.3 percent in H1 2014. Major projects and continued success in agriculture should raise GDP growth to 7.5 percent for 2015. “With 30 percent of the labour force engaged in this sector, the benefits accruing from this growth are expected to be widespread,” the report states.
Mongolian Economy magazine highlighted agriculture’s breakthrough and development success in its latest issue. The ADB recommends increased diversification of the economy to reduce vulnerability to mineral price fluctuations, advice that comes on the heels of a foreign direct investment drop of 62.4 percent in H1 2014, mining projects on hold, and low commodity prices.
The ADB approved of the recent tightening of the fiscal and monetary policy by the government and central bank, suggesting further tightening to bring inflation down to 9.5 percent in 2015, which would help narrow the balance-of-payments deficit.
In Mongolia, ADB has approved over USD 1.5 billion in financial and technical assistance since 1991, and is committed to supporting job creation and economic diversification.
Honorary Consuls Representing Foreign States to Mongolia to Host First Conference in Ulaanbaatar
October 9 (infomongolia.com) Today at 01:30 pm on October 09, 2014, the Conference themed "The Role and Significance of Honorary Consuls in the Foreign Relations of Mongolia" will begin at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ulaanbaatar.
This is the first event involving Honorary Consuls representing foreign states to Mongolia organized by Institute for International Studies (IIS) and the Conference will be opened by Foreign Minister L.Bold and key speech on “First Honorary Consuls to Mongolia and the role and future opportunities” by Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Thailand to Mongolia L.Lkhagvaa.
After which, lectures will be delivered by IIS Vice Director PhD A.Nyamdorj, Vice Director of Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs N.Bataa and Honorary Consul of the Republic of Chile to Mongolia D.Puntsag.
As of October 2014, there are 36 Honorary Consuls representing foreign states to Mongolia:
1. Albania, Jambaanyandag JARGALSAIKHAN, since 2013
2. Austria, Davaakhuu SERGELEN since 2003
3. Belarus, Luvsandandar KHANGAI, since 2013
4. Belgium, Joel Cachet, since 2010
5. Brazil, Zumbee KHULAN, since 2013
6. Chile, Dari PUNTSAG, since 2009
7. Croatia, Purevdagva BAT-ERDENE, since 2011
8. Cyprus, Togmid CHULUUNKHUU, since 2012
9. Denmark, Jambaljamts OD, since 2002
10. Estonia, Lkhagvasuren KHULAN, since 2014
11. Finland, Danzandorj BAYASGALAN, since 2008
12. Hungary, Chuluun GANTULGA, since 2012
13. Indonesia, Saldan ERDENE, since 2013
14. Iceland, Magvan BOLD, since 2008
15. Israel, Dorjpalam AMAR, since 2006
16. Kazakhstan, Davaanyam ENKHCHIMEG, since 2012
17. Latvia, Choimpog BAT, since 2014
18. Luxemburg, Dashdavaa KHULAN, since 2008
19. Mexico, Tumurdush NASANKHUU, since 2008
20. Monaco, Tumendemberel BOLORMAA, since 2010
21. Nepal, Bazarsad ALTAN-OCHIR, since 2013
22. Netherlands, Ganibal AMARTUVSHIN, since 2014
23. New Zealand, Chuluun MUNKHBAT, since 2014
24. Norway, Luvsanvandan SARANGEREL, since 2009
25. Peru, Khaltmaa BATTUUL, since 2012
26. Philippine, Lkhagvasuren SELENGE, since 2013
27. Poland, Dashdeleg GANKHUYAG, since 2011
28. Romania, Ulziibat ODONSUREN, since 2009
29. Serbia, Bavuu ZORIGT, since 2013
30. Slovakia, Dugerjav GOTOV, since 2012
31. Slovenia, Bayarbaatar BOLORMAA, since 2014
32. South Africa, Bayanjargal BYAMBASAIKHAN, since 2012
33. Spain, Magvan OYUNCHIMEG, since 2003
34. Sweden, Luvsanvandan BOLDKHUYAG, since 2005
35. Thailand, Lkhagvasuren LKHAGVAA, since 1997
36. Ukraine, Purevsambuu BATSAIKHAN, since 2002
First conference for honorary consulates of Mongolia to be held – news.mn, October 9
President of Mongolia Appoints Envoy to Broaden Cooperation with Russia in Economic, Infrastructure and Investment Sectors
October 9 (infomongolia.com) President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj temporarily appoints Mr. Luvsandandar KHANGAI, who owns a diplomatic title of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, as the President’s Envoy as a Head of Mission responsible for Economic, Infrastructure and Investment issues in the Russian Federation.
L.Khangai was born in 1956 in Ulaanbaatar. He holds degrees in law from National University of Mongolia and political science from Moscow Social Science Academy.
He is an experienced public official with rank of Senior Officer, who completed trainings in Australia, Germany, South Korea and Sweden.
In 1979-1988, L.Khangai worked as an expert and Head of a division at the Ministry of Justice, Vice Chairman at the Secretariat of the State Baga Khural of Mongolia in 1990-1992, First Under-Secretary General at the Secretariat of the State Great Khural in 1992-1994, Director General of “Chinggis Khaan” Hotel in 1994-2000. First Deputy Head of the Cabinet Secretariat of Mongolia in 2000-2005, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Russian Federation in 2005-2009, and Head of “Russia Foundation” NGO since 2009.
President Ts.Elbegdorj Urges Not to Appoint Parliamentarian as Minister of Government
October 9 (infomongolia.com) On October 08, 2014, President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj received in his office the Heads of major Political Groups at the State Great Khural (Parliament) to discuss about newly amended the Law on Government.
These political groups were represented by Head of the Democratic Party at the Parliament D.Erdenebat, Head of Mongolian People’s Party at the Parliament S.Byambatsogt and the Head of "Justice" Coalition (MPRP - MNDP) in the Parliament N.Battsereg.
During the meeting President Ts.Elbegdorj emphasized when to promote new Minister of Cabinet, Heads of Groups should consider not to appoint a member of Parliament and said, “From now on, we should stop of holding two posts simultaneously as Parliamentarian and Minister.
However, it is accredited by the law, but a parliamentarian should not to chair a Ministry office and only Prime Minister can be a Member of Parliament. Therefore, please re-consider this issue at the group meetings”.
President underlines his opinions – Montsame, October 9
Presidential office head at Mongolian-German joint symposium
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) Head of the Presidential Office of Mongolia P.Tsagaan has delivered a keynote speech at a symposium titled “A Dialogue of Political Foundations: A state with judiciary and responsibility” which has been co-run at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Conrad Adenauer Foundation.
Mr Tsagaan thanked these foundations for organizing such an event, dedicated to the 40th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Germany, saying that thanks to these foundations the German have been closely contacting with Mongolia since our country chose the path of democracy. "It was also very helpful in establishing the Democratic Party and shaping our democratic political culture".
Mongolia is decisively pursuing the path of democracy in the last 20 years and is solidifying the state with judiciary and responsible government, "but there are lots of work needed to be done, a process of forming a state and shaping it has its own difficulties, weakness and deficiencies, for example, matters on election financing and regarding it laws and regulations,' he said.
The Mongolians must have equal opportunity to run for elections at every level without any financial barriers, "it is essential to separate money and business from politics in order to strengthen our achievements of the past 24 years, and parliament should not become a club of the wealthy, this is causing a problem for those who endear their state and who stand for fairness." he stressed.
Mr Tsagaan said the President of Mongolia and many others are worried about this matter and reminded that the President initiated a whole series of actions to reform the judicial system, instituting responsibility mechanisms such as the Fiscal Accountability Law (known in public as the Glass Account Law), Public Hearing Law, and strategy to establish a Smart Government.
Mongolia and Germany have a long and rich tradition of cooperation and friendship, especially in education sector since our country’s independence, and Mongolians want to bring European way of life and European standards to their country, he noted.
Mongolia is the fastest-growing economy in the world, he said and requested these foundations to cooperate with German businesses to participate in our country’s development. At the end of his speech Mr Tsagaan said he will work on implementing the advice and proposals that will come from this symposium.
Emergency management training runs for human development staff
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) The Ministry of Human Development and Social Welfare and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) co-organized a subject training on October 2 for the welfare groups. This took place in frames of the objectives of a newly established Emergency Management Department at the ministry.
This department was set in accordance with the Ministerial order of October 15 of 2013 with purposes of organizing the planning and realization of emergency management within the sector. The department should train cadres that will prevent disasters, eliminate damages, take immediate reconstruction measures, and plan and realize emergency management.
Present at the training were the related workers, sub-group for protection of children, sub-group for gender-based abuse prevention, and members of Youth counseling committee. The ministry intends to organize same kind of training in the future, as well as to prepare trainers.
The Emergency Management group, one of the 12 emergency cluster adjustment groups in Mongolia, is operating with guidelines from the UNFPA and the Ministry, along with 24 member entities and 35 members, pursuing the emergency management plans. The management group aims at demolishing the violations of human rights, at preventing those situations without discrimination and at appropriate timing, in accordance with the international law on human rights.
Finance Minister about 2015 budget law
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan participated in the “30 minutes of Minister” meeting on Thursday, talking about a draft law on the 2015 state budget.
The submitted to parliament draft has three features, he noted. Essential rights of exploitation of budgets are transferred to localities' authorities, the capital for salaries, pensions and allowances are increased 2.5 times or by MNT 500 billion, and this goal will be implemented in several phases without an impact on the inflation rate, and the expenses out the budgets--sources of the “Chingis” bonds, the Development Bank of Mongolia and capitals of soft-loans--will go to the state budget, the Minister said.
The law creates for the public conditions to monitor the budgetary expenses in frames of the law on “glass” account. It also will not increase the tax sizes and will not create additional taxes, he highlighted.
It is projected that the state budget will accumulate revenue of MNT 7.2 trillion in 2015, the expenses of 8.4 trillion will be financed. Investments for social development will be augmented, he added.
Construction of airport goes with 23 percent
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) The construction of the new airport has been planned to achieve 26.8 percent by the end of this year, now it has exceeded by 1.7 percent, the Minister of Road and Transportation A.Gansukh was told October 8.
Together with authority of the General Authority for Civil Aviation he visited the airport construction site in Khushig valley in Tov aimag. In frames of the project, over 30 facilities are to be erected. This year, a construction is being run of the main facilities such as a terminal capable of receiving three million passengers per year, a runway to receive 22 thousand airliners to depart and arrive, an air traffic control tower, Fire fighting and Rescue departments buildings, electric fundamental and assistant stations, independent water supply facilities, heating facility, and 1,490 meters long engineering circuit tunnel.
The executor organizations have completed earthworks in over five million cube meters of space for the dam and the building grounds, which equal to 90 percent of the total work. Only the runway cementation on 162 thousand square meters have been completed, and are underway a 70-percent of casting the concrete, covering of 65.9 thousand cube meters of the runway, and 39.3-percent of steel reinforcing of the main terminal building.
Premier addresses International Nursing Conference
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag made the opening remarks at the 3rd international Nursing Conference which kicked off Thursday in Ulaanbaatar.
The conference, co-organized by the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Health in frames of the 85th anniversary of the Nursing School at the Mongolian National University of Medical Science, has gathered over 20 foreign scholars and 800 nurses and delegates of all hospitals.
“The public's thought that a nurse is an assistant for a doctor only does not exist any more, the science of nursing has already has become an independent branch,” the Premier noted. The School of Nursing has some 32 thousand professionals, "and its programme must be improved so as to prepare internationally-accepted skilled nurses", he suggested.
During the two-day conference, sub-meetings will run with topics on improving interconnection between medical professions, augmenting a quality of nursing aid and services, upgrading a nursing education, and on expanding training system simulators.
University of Law Enforcement awarded state order
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) Pursuant to a decree of the President, the University of Law Enforcement has been awarded the Red Flag Order of Military Merit.
A head of the Presidential Office P.Tsagaan granted the Order to the university and congratulated its authorities on the event. The Order has become recognition of this university's contribution to preparing skilled professionals for the defense sphere, Mr Tsagaan said.
Mongolia-Finland intergovernmental commission meets
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) The 12th meeting of the Mongolia-Finland intergovernmental commission for the economic, scientific, social and technical cooperation ran Thursday in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ulaanbaatar.
The commission meeting was co-chaired by S.Erdene, Mongolia’s Minister of Population Development and Social Welfare, and by Matti Anttonen, the Deputy State Secretary of the Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for external economic affairs.
The parties concluded an implementation of the decisions made at the previous intergovernmental meeting, and considered issues of expanding the relations and cooperation. They shared views on widening the cooperation in population development, social welfare, trade, economy, infrastructure, agriculture, health, environment, education, defense and justice spheres and discussed future projects.
At the meeting, the sides also agreed to establish a memorandum on cooperation in four spheres.
Mongolian Ambassador addresses General debate of 69th UN GA
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) A Permanent representative of Mongolia to the UN Ambassador O.Och has attended the General debate of the 69th UN GA to expressed Mongolia’s position over international security and disarmament.
The Ambassador noted that Mongolia considers the maintenance of international security, disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as an important objective of the multilateral cooperation. The country has been working to contribute in the strengthening of the international security. Mongolia--on the occasion of the International Day for Distraction for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons--will join the Ministerial statement, approving of the results of the UNGA summit on September 26 and the seventh Ministerial Meeting on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-ban Treaty (CTBT), he said.
Mentioning a necessity of forwarding the talks on disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the Permanent representative has expressed his belief that the upcoming in 2015 Conference on results of the Treaty of the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will take decisive steps and bring achievements.
He also informed about Mongolia’s leadership at the upcoming conference and expressed an expectation for decisive measures from the member-countries of NPT.
“Mongolia prepares two draft resolutions to the 69th session of the UN GA on matters of international security, nuclear weapon free status, and nuclear weapon free regions,” he said and appealed to all to support these drafts.
Stock exchange news for October 9
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Thursday, a total of 1,082 shares of seven JSCs were traded costing MNT 13 million 838 thousand and 350.00.
"Gobi” /485 units/, “Talkh chikher” /380 units/, “Tavantolgoi” /70 units/, “Darkhan nekhii” /70 units/ and "Material impex” /32 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Talkh chikher” (MNT seven million and 600 thousand), "Gobi” (MNT three million 928 thousand and 500), “Darkhan nekhii” (MNT one million and 295 thousand), "Material impex” (MNT 560 thousand) and "Tavantolgoi” (MNT 350 thousand).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 572 billion 639 million 732 thousand and 639. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,696.18, decreasing 25.22 units or 0.16% against the previous day.
Youth work on crop fields
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) At the initiative of the Youth organization at the Mongolian Democratic Union and with a support from Youth Wave Club, over 50 young people took part this week in the harvesting processes in Ugtaal Tsaidam soum of Tuv aimag.
The overall harvesting in the country has been going with 56.2 percent when the volunteers arrived there. Their tow-day work was a bit touch because there was a 6-cm thick snow, which covered major crop-harvesting regions of Darkhan and Selenge provinces. The volunteers said that they intend to expand this action by involving over 500 young people next year.
Bicycle Parade approaches
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) In frames of the “Alcohol or Sports?” campaign from the Mongolian Youth Union, a bicycle parade themed “Green street–Bicycle road” is to be held this Saturday under the appeal “Good news, good parade”.
The Ministry of Economic development will present the “Green street–Bicycle road” project initiated after the “Street” project, on the parade. The action will open at Chingis Square on October 11 at 10 am. The participants will ride to west crossroad, then to east crossroad, and will return to the Square, after covering nearly ten kilometers. The riders are required to wear safety helmets, have front and back brakes, be older 15, otherwise be accompanied by adults.
The general organizers of the parade are the Mongolian Youth Union, the Ministry of Economic Development's “Street” project, a “Young cyclers club” at the Ministry, the co-organizers are the Office of the Mayor and Ulaanbaatar Traffic Police Office.
Sumo World Championships to take place here
Ulaanbaatar, October 9 (MONTSAME) The Sumo World Championships will be held for the first time in Mongolia in 2016.
It was reported on Thursday by Kyukushuzan D.Batbayar, a president of Mongolia’s Sumo Federation. Together with him were O.Togoldor, D.Gankholboo, the MSF secretaries; and G.Naranbat, a sumo world champion, at a press conference at “Mongol News” info-center.
A bid for selecting the host country took place August 29 of 2014 in Kaoshiung city, Chinese Taipei, at which Mongolia defeated Egypt. It is expected that the World Championship will be scheduled on July 30-31 of 2016 at the “Buyant-Ukhaa” sport complex.
In frames of hosting the World Championship, Mongolia proposes organizing World Cup of Top Teams. Moreover, works have started to establish a sumo lyceum at the “Tsetsee gun” institute, said O.Togoldor.
Mongolian Academy of Sciences joins with Buryat State University
October 9 (news.mn) Mongolian Academy of Sciences joins into an agreement with Buryat State University. The cooperation agreement further strengths and expands the collaboration of sciences and education between the two countries. The agreement was signed by the president of Mongolian Academy of Sciences and academic B.Enkhtuvshin, Rector (President) of Buryat State University, EdD, Professor and Corresponding Fellow of The Russian Academy of Education, Stepan Vladimirovich Kalmykov. Both parties agree to exchange fellow teachers and scholars, implement a collaborative project, and cooperate on a series of research books within the five-year term agreement.
Mongolian Academy of Sciences and Buryat State University have then agreed to create a joint board to share experiences in the field of scientific achievement and innovation toward earning a Sc.D. degree.
“Prime Minister’s 30 Minutes” Changed into “Minister’s Hour”
October 9 (infomongolia.com) The Government of Mongolia has been organizing the "30 Minutes with Prime Minister" meeting on every Thursdays, so from today the meeting is changed into "Minister's Hour" and the first guest was the Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan, who reported current socio-economic situation in the country and tasks to carry out by the Ministry.
During the press meeting, Minister Ch.Ulaan noted, “Cabinet submitted the draft bill on 2015 State Budget to the State Great Khural (Parliament) and there are 3 features to highlight.
First, the budget expenditure privileges are transferred to provincial and smaller-level administrations.
Second, the fund to spend for salaries and pensions is increased by 2.5 times or 500 billion MNT (Tugrug). This task will not affect negatively to inflation rate due to implementation on step-by-step basis.
Third, the consolidated fund from Chinggis Bond, Development Bank and soft loans is included in the draft bill.
Moreover, taxes will not be increased next year in any sectors. In 2015, it expects to collect 7.2 trillion MNT in revenue, whilst 8.4 trillion MNT to spend and we submitted to amend in the bill to raise the debt ceiling, but it will not reach the 70% of GDP.
Although, the construction works will be continued normally and investments into social development are increased”.
Immigration Office of Mongolia Deports 130 Foreign Nationals
October 9 (infomongolia.com) On October 08, 2014, the Citizenship and Migration General Authority of Mongolia (Immigration Office) deported 130 foreign nationals on the ground of breaching the relevant regulations and rules.
In 2014, the Immigration Office deported a total of 1,275 foreign citizens from the territory of Mongolia, whose visa and residence permit cards were expired, who were conducting activities differ from purposes and who were employed without authorized permissions.
Press Freedom Under Siege
By B. Khash-Erdene
October 9 (UB Post) In this Special Edition of the UB Post, our team has examined the challenges and shortcoming in Mongolia’s press freedom and obstacles journalists face in their endeavor to provide accurate and complete information to the public.
Mongolia’s press freedom is facing a crisis according to Globe International Mongolia, which works to sustain Mongolian democracy and civil society, and spread power of information and knowledge.
By providing information and expressing the voices of the public, the media ensures the inclusion of the public in decisions and debates that form their lives. In a democratic society, independent media is crucial for developing good governance, fighting corruption, enhancing economic efficiency and stability, and shaping public perception for a healthy and peaceful society.
The Media Development Investment Fund underlined that countries with high political risk, like Mongolia which stood at 83th among 165 countries listed in the Economist’s Political Instability Index in 2010, stands to benefit most from the “effectiveness of their media”. A 2011 econometric study of the impact of a healthy media sector on the political risk condition of Sub-Saharan African countries found that “The quantile regression analysis… suggests that a free media and greater access to information has a greater impact on improving political risk status for countries with high political risk situations than for countries that are more stable.”
Ts.Baldorj, the founder of the UB Post and Mongol News Group, once said, “Journalism is more valuable than trade and is more powerful than nations. It is an art able to move people.”
Sustainable development is also something that can only be accomplished with independent media. “At its heart, development – if it is to be sustainable – must be a process that allows people to be their own agents of change: to act individually and collectively, using their own ingenuity and accessing ideas, practices and knowledge in the search for ways to fulfill their potential,” a 2007 Panos report highlighted.
This tool of great power therefore cannot be in control of or influenced by the powers which it must keep a watchful eye on.
Through our investigation, the UB Post team has discovered serious threats to press freedom such as laws that cripple free expression and access to certain information, anonymous owners of media outlets in Mongolia that effectively influences public perception, and violations to journalism ethics and copyrights.
In the age of information, press freedom and freedom of expression is imperative. Free and accurate information allows individuals, communities and nations to shape their own fate.
We at the UB Post acknowledge that sometimes, under pressure of deadline, we too fall short of the standards we have set for ourselves and are subject to the same shortcomings as our peers.
Mongolia is often viewed as an exemplary democracy in the region by international communities, but rarely is the pressure that media – as a voice of the people or the “fourth estate” – faces recognized and acknowledged in the outside perceptions.
By publishing our Special Edition on Press Freedom, we hope that our readers gain a better understanding of the challenges the press faces as we work to provide news stories to our readers and shed light on unresolved issues, and we urge you to stand with us in the fight for press freedom and free speech, for we are your voice.
“By making one part of a country aware of other parts, their people, arts, customs, and politics; by permitting the national leaders to talk to the people, and people to the leaders and to each other; by making possible a nation-wide dialogue on national policy; by keeping the national goals and national accomplishments always before the public–thus modern communication, widely used, can help weld together isolated communities, disparate subcultures, self-centered individuals and groups, and separate developments into a truly national development.”
- “Father of Communication Studies”, Wilbur Schramm.
Press Freedom Law: Debate continues
By D. Sergelen
October 9 (UB Post) Concerns continue to emerge that suggest Mongolia’s current law on press freedom does not go far enough to protect the rights of journalists to report freely, local journalists have suggested.
The Law on Press Freedom, composed in 1998, has long since been a sticking point for many in Mongolia’s media industry.
“Some of these clauses have been implemented very well,” T.Baasansuren, director of the TV9 television, explained. “For example, the state owned newspapers such as Ardiin Erkh and Parlamentiin Sonin became public status newspapers.”
“But now some members in Parliament want to privatize press and create their weapons to protect them.”
Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj would submitted amendments to the press freedom law to Parliament during last spring session. Yet soon after, the President would retracted the amendments, resting responsibility for the backdown with media outlets.
The head of the working group assigned to the bill, M.Ganchimeg, stated in an interview to open.parliament.mn that “the President took back his bill because he met protest and statements of media owners whilst it was discussed by the government.”
“Generally, the press law involves many people’s interests. The main reason why democratic countries release press law is to guarantee public’s right to receive information. The political, business and journalist have high interest on passing this law but the media owners are treating this carefully,” she explained.
The draft press freedom law would not act to decriminalize defamation: a charge which could see journalists and editors alike imprisoned and/or heavily fined, should they be found guilty.
Internationally, numerous countries have long since sought to remove defamation from criminal statues. The International Press Institute, for example, has been appealing to abolish criminal defamation, arguing that this discourages and punishes critical reporting.
“[Yet] Mongolian Journalist’s Union and other media organizations have hardly tried to abolish criminal defamation clauses in the Criminal Code,” T.Baasansuren said.
Mongolia’s Press Freedom Law
1. The main purpose of the law is to guarantee people’s rights to express their opinion and voice and publish materials.
2. To prohibit any law and regulations that restrict a free press.
3. Media organizations are responsible for what that have published.
4. The state organizations shouldn’t have own media.
5. The state is not the organization that put control to media publishing and broadcasting and won’t finance controlling activity.
Mongolia’s flourish to social media
By B. Dulguun
October 9 (UB Post) Social media and digital journalism is advancing rapidly and progressively in Mongolia, leading some experts to evaluate this sector more in depth.
Many Mongolians, including prominent figures, have started to engage in social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, interacting with others on common interests.
Print publishing began in Mongolia over 100 years ago. Transmission of radio broadcasts began some ten years later, explained U.Ganbayar, a board member of the Website Association of Mongolia. Yet online journalism is a relatively new medium – first introduced in 1995, the internet has played a key role in the ongoing development of Mongolia’s media sector.
Television has long since held prime position as the main source of news and information in Mongolia. According to Mongolian Media Today, an annual report into the media sector produced by the Press Institute, the internet is increasingly becoming the main source of information for those in Ulaanbaatar. Last year 23.3 million newspapers were sold across the country – an estimated ten percent decline from the previous year.
Digital journalism is increasingly contributing to Mongolia’s social development. More and more Mongolians are using social media to freely express their opinions on various topics, share information and even blog. People are more attracted to salvaging their need for “on the spot” news about broad range of events happening all around the world through online journalism rather than comparatively slower news subscriptions.
The UB Post interviewed Lisa Gardner, a journalist and media trainer currently based in Ulaanbaatar, to comment on Mongolia’s journalism and social media. (Disclaimer: Ms. Gardner also trains our staff at the UB Post). She responded, “As social media continues to gather momentum here in Mongolia, we’re already beginning to see a growing decline in news subscriptions. This holds significant implications for the profitability of mainstream news outlets. What’s especially interesting about Mongolia’s media sector at this point in time is that, unlike in numerous other countries, we’ve yet to see a significant decline in the number of available news outlets.”
She mentioned that the number of news agencies in Mongolia has increased in the last five years to a whopping five hundred outlets, which is an astonishing figure, given that Mongolia’s population is so small. Gardner regards ‘free’ online news as unsustainable over the longer term. “As such, as the market shifts, if news agencies are to survive and flourish then they’ll need to aggressively consider ways of making news here in Mongolia a profitable endeavour. People are increasingly consuming news for free, online. We learn from examples elsewhere that to ignore social media and the internet, or to survive – as many still do – without a comprehensive digital strategy, will not delay this seismic and inevitable shift in how people consume news. This requires that newsrooms reassess how they both make and make money from news production. This makes room too, for a much-needed discussion as to the value of quality news-reporting [unbiased, transparent and ethical].”
In Gardner’s view, this also means that news organizations will need to change their attitudes about how they gather news. “For decades, Mongolia’s media was consumed as a kind of “one-way message” – the reporter produces news, the audience reads it, end of story,” she said. “Instead what we are now seeing is a highly engaged audience: one that wants to engage with news-makers, will pick up on news errors, and will argue the point with reporters and fellow readers alike. In that, we’ve moved from a kind of ‘directive-issued-from-above’ means of news production to a real dialogue, two-way discussion with local audiences. This is a significant shift, and one that requires some adjustment in prevailing attitudes, especially in traditional newsrooms.”
Mainstream Mongolian news outlets are increasingly taking stock of the advantages and pressures of online technology. Some publishing companies in Mongolia have begun developing online versions, which allow a glimpse of the publications on social media as well as online subscriptions for keeping up with the profit.
Gereg Magazine is one such example: a weekly published magazine that covers various unique topics. Gereg Managing Editor, J.Tegshjargal, explained how his team hopes for their magazine to survive and flourish in Mongolia’s competitive publishing market.
“Many new magazines started to publish since around a year ago. At the moment, it’s true that the market is shrinking. There is a different concept between reading magazines and reading newspaper. From my observation, people who read magazines are very few. We predict the people interested in magazines will increase in three to five years. Some magazines will last while others will not. We’re developing prospect plans to ensure our position among magazines that are still operations at that time. We have few subscribers but it doesn’t mean we have none,” he said.
Tegshjargal also outlined the magazine’s moves towards digital journalism. “We plan to develop applications for our magazine, but it’s not definite,” he said. “Our main objective is to not lose our original content. Many publications provide online versions as soon as it’s published. This itself is toxic for future paper publishing and the company. Contents on paper and magazine will not be the same to protect our readers and paper publishing operations,” he said.
In the digital age, who is a ‘journalist’?
As digital journalism develops in Mongolia, numerous press freedom issues arise. Both here and elsewhere, questions arise as to the nature of “blogging” versus “journalism”: who, in the online world, can be considered a “journalist”?
Just recently, Mongolia encountered its first imprisonment of a blogger under criminal defamation charges, the case of Ts.Bat, also known as Bat Engineer. Ts.Bat was sentenced to 100 days in a penitentiary for badmouthing a senior government minister on Twitter.
“In my view, the ruling in Bat’s case, albeit one that was later overturned, also raises significant concerns as to right to free expression here in Mongolia,” Gardner explained. “These are rights stipulated in both Mongolia’s Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Mongolia is a signatory.”
Tegshjargal expressed a contrary view, highlighting the controversy surrounding the now infamous case. “The court didn’t case this issue together with journalism. It was spread on Twitter that Twitter was judged as a tool of the media during the hearing but it’s false. It was outburst on Twitter so a lot of people interpreted this as (what Bat had) tweeted… Defamation isn’t connected to journalism.”
In the end, it’s interesting to know that more Mongolian news outlets are being produced and are fighting to preserve its traditional paper printing format despite the speedy development of digital journalism. Digital journalism will probably develop even further in Mongolia as more people access the internet for quick news feed. It may be fast and capable of informing anyone, anywhere with anything they want but it isn’t profitable. Publishing companies will have to crack their brain to find solutions to make it more profitable.
‘Mongolian journalism is in crisis,’ say advocates
By M. Zoljargal
October 9 (UB Post) In discussion with leading press freedom advocate, Khashkhuu Naranjargal
Leading Mongolian press freedom advocate Naranjargal Khashkhuu has described today’s current media situation as one in “crisis”, that will require a complete reform to be resolved.
Ms. Khashkhuu, executive director of local press freedom group Globe International, explained that the situation facing media in Mongolia is “complex” and that broad reform needs to be initiated from newsrooms if circumstances are to improve.
“All newsrooms should understand the core idea of what independent journalism is and its professional standards in the first place,” explains Kh.Naranjargal to the UB Post.
When journalists are fearful and self-censor, issues surrounding journalism ethics can sometimes fall by the wayside.
Media management comes second in terms of importance to start the reform as few journalists are powerless against fixed practices. In which case, “the first thing that should be done is to check whether newsrooms have ethical codes and editorial guidelines,” Kh.Naranjargal advises.
Advocates highlighted concerns that Mongolian journalism commonly functions at the behest of media owners – themselves, often high-ranking officials and prominent business figures.
“The International Federation of Journalists once said that there will be no political independence when financial independence is not ensured. Mongolian journalism is dependent on money which is leading it to malfunction,” Kh.Naranjargal explained.
Echoing this view back in December 2012, “most of the media outlets have been established with investments of the wealthy and influential politicians who do not and will not want to understand the point and purpose of media,” said J.Altangerel, senior journalist at the Mongolian National Broadcaster and Head of the Mongolian Parliamentary Journalism Association, to Zuunii Medee.
“Reform starts from people, which means media management, especially human resources management must be developed, followed by financial management. One journalist can’t launch the reform. What will practically happen to you if you keep being rebellious all alone in the newsroom is you get fired. That is why management is so important that no newsroom is independent from it,” points out Kh.Naranjargal.
Mongolia’s media sector has quickly developed since the transition took place. Yet advocates like Kh.Naranjargal feel that, despite Mongolian democratic processes, this is no guarantee of a functioning “fourth estate” equipped to hold consecutive governments to account. “Before, Mongolian journalism served to the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. Now, it is serving to whoever isoffering money,” she added.
There are over 500 mainstream news outlets functional in Mongolia as of the first half of 2014, according to a report entitled Mongolian Media Today, published by the Press Institute.
“Question rises whether they are all operating profitable or not. They are either using paid content or serving for a certain power. Who has the money to pay for those media outlets? The government, political parties and businesses,” added Kh.Naranjargal.
She explained the reason why she believes the profit is not enough, “Total revenue earned in Mongolia’s advertising market ranges between 20 and 30 million USD which is clearly not enough to feed more than 500 media outlets in the country.” Each year, the government allocates subsidies, via the state budget, to media outlets. Yet is it unclear which outlets receive how much.
Business companies are also providing advertisements under certain conditions which also conflicts with press freedom, say advocates.
“The businesses conclude agreement of corporation with media outlets in which the outlets agree to not say anything negative about the contracted businesses in a blocking clause. So this is why there is no way we can be talking about ethics when journalists are tied like this,” Kh.Naranjargal underlined.
Press freedom may be integral to democracy: yet here in Mongolia, there remains some challenges before local press may be deemed “free”.
“It’s been 20 years since the democratic journalism has been introduced to Mongolia,” Kh.Naranjaral concluded. “It is a rather short time for a shift from a journalism which serves to power into journalism which serves the public without dependence to the previous power it served to.”
‘Investigative journalism is a courageous journalism’, a discussion with TV9 Director T.Baasansuren
By Ch. Khaliun
October 9 (UB Post) Investigative journalism is a courageous journalism. It requires braveness, allegiance and strength from journalists and news agencies in order to hold the powerful to account.
“Investigative journalism today is an order of Mongolia’s current society. Mongolian society has become dirtied by corruption. Oligarch’s arrogance has exceeded its limits; corruption and abuse is out of control. Given this, press freedom is important, especially investigative journalism,” director of TV9 television and member of the Mongolian Journalists Association T.Baasansuren noted.
“Because Mongolian media ‘serves’ the politicians, journalists do not have right to criticize them,” he explained. “We could say that the thing which should be published or not depends on ‘their’ decision. Member of Mongolian Journalists Association have shown that in countries where investigative journalism is well developed, this demonstrates a country’s development, too. Where democracy develops, so too should investigative journalism.”
“Mongolian investigative journalists are working, for instance in the developing sectors like mining, journalists have reported about many secret matters of Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi or Khushuut’s mining deposit.”
“Yet in Mongolia, investigative journalism cannot develop while journalists work under ‘someone’s’ pressure. Journalists should work together, and cooperate. They should support each other. Recently Eagle television and some other newspapers have started creating a team of investigative journalists with four to five members, which shows the need of cooperation in this field,” he explained.
“In foreign countries, almost every news outlet has a team of investigative journalists inside. We are looking forward to setting this tradition in place in, Mongolia, too,” T.Baasansuren emphasized.
T.Baasansuren also raised issues surrounding copyright. In Mongolian journalism, content is regularly plagiarised and re-distributed elsewhere.
For some in the media sector, problems arise not as a result of domestic laws, but simply, in implementation. “The [copyright] law itself is really good, it doesn’t need improvements or amendments. The reason its not working in the journalism sector is because journalists not complaining that someone ‘stole’ their content” says T.Baasansuren.
Despite journalism codes of ethics that often, explicitly state that material is not be copied or redistributed without payment, these codes are regularly “broken” in favour of convenience. To counter this, T.Baasansuren suggested that journalists might consider applying to the Intellectual Property Office in order to ensure that their original work is deemed their own.
“Others like writers, painters, artists, composers often applies that someone stole their work, but not journalists,” he said. “Journalists just don’t care about their works, even if they find out that someone copied their work they don’t care, that’s the problem,” T.Baasansuren suggests.
“If the work is really good then journalists should register their work at the Intellectual Poverty Office and get patents and certificates. Once you get a copyright it is valid a lifelong and during 50 years after the death,” he says.
Yet it is unclear whether this is an especially feasible option for journalists. Would patent need be issued every time a journalist publishes an article? Is this the only option that journalists might seek out in order to ensure that their work is covered by legal protections?
The UB Post contacted the Intellectual Property Office on numerous occasions to seek a response to these questions, but did not receive a response.
‘Media are strangling their own freedom’
By B. Khash-Erdene
October 9 (UB Post) The UB Post spoke to Deputy Director of News.mn D.Narantuya about online journalism, press freedom and its challenges. News.mn is Mongolia’s largest news website that pioneered online journalism in the country. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
How does online journalism differ from other media outlets in Mongolia?
I don’t think online journalism differs from other forms of journalism at all. It’s [only] the distribution that is different.
Does it face the same difficulties as other media outlets like television and print media?
We distribute news much faster than television, which has dominated news distribution in the last 30 to 40 years. Amidst this haste and competition to deliver news faster, we tend to lose quality. Neat and tighter presentation can also suffer but our news room obviously works to eliminate this factor. I think this issue covers all online media throughout the world that aspires to deliver timely news coverage.
I think the biggest shortcoming in online journalism is that, in our haste, we tend to lose our thoroughness and responsible coverage. This is what we are regularly criticized for.
So most of your difficulties arise from the fast paced news delivery?
Compared to newspapers, we are more dependent of technology and hence we have to pay special attention to cyber security and technology.
News.mn is the first site that is based on software developed by Mongolian programmers. Many others have started to follow this trend… Software needs to be upgraded regularly.
Your site was recently hacked. Can you tell us how you deal with these issues and work to prevent them?
Content and security has to have equal 50-50 significance in online media… We contract a company to prevent [attacks]. We only produce content.
Since your site is based on a newspaper newsroom, does that mean that content creation is the same as a newspaper’s?
Of course it has some differences. Our main objective is to be fast. One advantage of online media over print is that, say that there is news that there is fire, we have to report first that there was a fire and update our news as the journalists find out more. This is a huge advantage over newspapers. The fact that we can update is a benefit. In newspapers, all that information is bundled together.
Often [consumers] have already received that information on TV the night before or seen it online. Because of this, we had to close our daily paper two years ago.
Online journalism is relatively new in Mongolia. What is the revenue source of your website?
We live completely on advertisement revenue. When we tell people about this, they are very surprised.
Almost all of the international journalists I met have told me that there aren’t any news websites whose only source of income is from advertisement. They are very surprised that we can sustain ourselves from [advertising] alone.
Our site is the first news website of Mongolia – this is probably our advantage. There have been many websites with similar goals as ours. But from my view, I do not know of any that is as successful as ours in terms of economics.
Does your website have subscription or is all of your content free?
We have no subscription and all our content is free.
Have News.mn staff experienced censorship? For instance, are there some issues that you can’t report on?
No, we don’t have such things. But obviously we have to adhere to our ethics. We are providing information and shaping public opinion, so we have to be responsible. Ethics is our only censorship. We always strive to be careful about sensational stories. This is our principle.
Most media advertisement contracts in Mongolia include blocking clauses that prohibit reporting of negative stories about advertisers during their contracted period. You said that News.mn derives all of its revenue from advertisement. Do your advertisement contracts have such blocking clauses?
We have them just like all other media organizations. I believe that all these defects in development will be fixed in the future. Because the press isn’t developing as it should because fair competition isn’t here.
The fact that the people, journalists, and even politicians have started to talk about what’s wrong in the media is an indication that it will get better.
Eventually these contracts will not be formed and the fair and free market principles will be upheld. For now, however, these issues aren’t likely to end.
Does that mean that News.mn doesn’t write about the companies that have advertising contracts?
I really have not seen for myself whether there were blocking clauses in our contracts, this is our marketing department’s responsibility.
For instance, if there was a fire at a construction, there are instances where the marketing department have said that we have contract with them. In these cases we have position that we will report the event.
Does that mean that you don’t mention the company’s name?
Of course we have to name the company because it is true that the company built that building. It is a proof. So this issue could cause conflict with our marketing department. I firmly believe t your UB Post isn’t all that pure and untarnished.
Mongolian media know well about aviation engineer and blogger Ts.Bat’s defamation case. What is your stance on the issue? Do you think that people should be imprisoned for defaming high ranking officials or do you think some other measure should have been taken?
I expressed my position on the issues on our site after [Ts.Bat] received his sentence. In general this issue shouldn’t have taken place in Mongolia. There were many critical but unresolved issues arose surrounding this issue.
Firstly, Twitter is not a public press tool. Anybody can express any opinion on this. The fact that state is interfering and censoring is something very adverse. Secondly, the fact that a high ranking state official took somebody to court for expressing their opinion is unprecedented in Mongolia. This cannot happen. And the fact that court pressed charges is also something that has never happened before and cannot be.
Under Mongolian law, journalists can be imprisoned for “defaming” somebody and the investigators don’t investigate whether a certain story written by a journalist is accurate, but whether he defamed someone. What’s your stance on this issue?
The press and media have been talking about eliminating defamation from the Criminal Code of Mongolia for many years. Currently, the relevant people are apparently working to change the law, but so far no changes have been made.
In Ts.Bat’s case, that precise clause [on defamation and libel] was used. He should have been sentenced if he used the press to defame, but Twitter is not the press, and nowhere around the world views it as such. So the case was an issue based on the interests of power holders, in my view.
The State Secrecy Law is also a concern for press freedom. Some clauses in the law doesn’t differentiate between requesting and receiving information on certain matters, meaning that the simple act of asking for certain information could warrant legal action. This law is in conflict with the recently approved Law on Information Transparency and the Right To Know. What is your position on this?
I don’t recall anything about being imprisoned for requesting information. But in general, the State Secrecy Law is a complicated law, especially for somebody like us who work in the media. Aside from this law, the Law on the Right to Know was approved. But the law’s implementation requires many steps.
The law isn’t for only the press but also regular citizens, but we can use it. The implementation of this law must be provided now. Soon after the law was enacted, our newsroom managers were very happy with it and we decided to test its implementation.
We sent two official requests for information to a ministry and a government agency. They are supposed respond with around work ten days and we waited but they replied that the information cannot be provided. They replied much much later than the legal required time, after a month or so.
To use this law, all who are concerned, especially journalists, should unite their voices and efforts for its implementation. The difficulties of trying to find information has to be proved and the law’s implementation should be pushed harder.
So the implementation is bad but the fact that the law was approved is a step towards the right direction, I think.
Do you think this current government is more open and transparent with their information, or is it more secretive?
In general there isn’t much difference. They have the same method of doing things. From my experience, the government has never been open with information. Journalist’s duty is to open what is closed. In my view, the last three governments have transferred to a simpler method by resolving everything with money. This is related to the country’s economic growth and also the fact that the objective of media owners has changed. For instance, in the 90’s, the state budget didn’t have much and nobody assigned money because they didn’t have money to silence [the media], there weren’t so many media. So these things have changed, and the saying, “thief’s method is improving” is ringing true.
Many Mongolian politicians say that foreign media are running “black PR” against the government. For instance, if some Oyu Tolgoi disagreement arises. Do you think there is this negative coverage about Mongolia or is this a politician’s way to dodge responsibility?
I understand why you asked this question, because before working here, I worked for [state-owned] Montsame’s Mongol Messenger. This question also arose there.
Mongolians often think that a foreign journalists are always better than ours. From what I know, some unknown foreign journalist came to Mongolia and even managed to interview the Prime Minister in the 90’s. Mongolia njournalists are always barred from interviews and meetings but foreign journalists are not.
Secondly, since the start of these big mining projects there have been targeted coverage of Mongolia. It is true that the unknown foreign journalists I spoke of earlier are utilized…. Medium level politicians also reveal information to foreign journalists because they want to sound important or whatever.
Therefore it is important to have policy on the information provided about Mongolia to the world at large. I’m not talking about censorship but this policy is important for representing the image of our nation and significant for further large scale projects to progress. Mongolia has never had a policy on this, as far as I know; as back as the 1990’s.
There is of course Montsame Agency but it is a state funded organization. It is a [media] that violates the law, which says that the press cannot be funded by the government. The Mongolian National Broadcaster gets its funding from the state because a special law was enacted to accommodate this. Among them is Montsame.
In this day and age, countries wage war through information. Taking up arms against each other doesn’t happen anymore. So the time has come for our country to exercise a policy over the information provided about us to the world.
The Press Institute is working to create a Press Council, through their Press Club. Can you tell us about this and in what capacity will News.mn work with them?
Some journalists came together as a club to establish a Press Council around ten months ago. We united under the view that a Press Council is needed in Mongolian media. But Mongolian journalists have a misconception about its function: mistaking it for the press literature censorship board that existed before the 90’s, when all media, newspapers, radio and television had to have their editions and scripts approved.
The council intends to discuss whether journalistic ethics are followed by media. This is more beneficial to the public, moreso than the press. So if a person submitted a complaint that said this journalist breached the ethics, the council will discuss whether that really occurred.
The council is supposed to push the press to become more ethical and adhere to its guidelines. And in the end, the press and society has most to win from this.
But the council is viewed as a tool to get one over each other by media owners especially. So we are very worried about this misconception.
The council is the next level for our club and we want to work with media owners. I wish they would view it as something that is beneficial for them, because it is.
How do you view Mongolia’s press freedom?
We have enough freedom. But journalists and media organizations are strangling their own freedom themselves.
The fact that they are led astray by money is strangling their freedom. They are doing it themselves.
So they censor themselves?
Yes. So if I took money from you and said I won’t write about your stuff, I’m silencing myself.
How do you see the future of media development? Do you think the number of media outlets will decrease in the future?
If media was following the fair principles of the market, the current huge number of media outlets cannot exist. I believe that in 10 to 20 years, there will be two to three main TV channels, maybe three to four daily newspapers, and around two news sites as big as our site. But obviously there will be room for some smaller media outlets that are specialized. For example there is room for media focused on health and construction. This is the capacity for our population and nation’s size.
At the moment, it is quite disorderly. It is curios that they manage to live on. When you think about it, they’re not living on subscriptions, not audience numbers, and advertisements, which focuses on pressuring on smaller media to write good things about them rather than advertising on the media with the largest number of audience.
For instance a company head could demand a contract from news outlets in return for buying certain number of newspapers. This currently takes place. But I think it will improve and I don’t think this will go on much longer into the future.