The following is an interview with the President of the Mongolian Youth Federation, A.Munkhbat, highlighting issues regarding the federation and future plans including the “Cycling Ulaanbaatar” project and the Asian Youth Forum.
What is the Mongolian Youth Federation planning to do in the near future?
Our federation announced that we will devote May to cyclers. For the last six months, with the initiations of young people, we have been implementing “Cycling Ulaanbaatar” project to transform Ulaanbaatar into a suitable city for cycling. To make this happen, Ulaanbaatar itself needs to transform into an eco-city. To become an eco-city, we need to be able to ride bicycles during warm seasons.
Around 70 percent of the Mongolian population, especially young adults are facing physical inactivity. Cycling is the most appropriate exercise for good health. Just like the old saying, “You don’t die of old age but from inactivity,” we must eliminate physical inactivity from young people and in order to do this, we’re implementing “Cycling Ulaanbaatar” project. The residents of Ulaanbaatar are already seeing the results. Previously, only few people rode bicycles but now, countless young people are cycling. Within May 2014, our association is planning to submit an official request to Parliament to exempt bicycles and other sports equipment from VAT and customs.
In Mongolia, there aren’t many gyms to do sports; however, compared to before, the number of fitness centers has increased significantly. We need to keep on increasing sports facilities. Tax relief to some extend is necessary to make this happen. We’re also aiming to nullify income tax for these sorts of businesses. I’m certain that parliamentary lobby groups will support youths as well as this proposal for subsidy.
It’s important to build cycling roads for “Ulaanbaatar on Bicycle.” Shouldn’t this issue be resolved before subsidies?
Within the framework of the project, road constructions will continue. Although we’re tight on budget, we’ll make arrangements with available organizations and construct more cycling lanes. There are more and more negative aspects with the increasing of cyclers. We’re working to establish a contract about this with the police.
We’ll be doing activities about how to ensure safety while cycling, bicycle-related traffic rules, what to do when there’s an accident and how to register bicycles. Additional measures include registering bicycles for insurance and leasing services. Getting rid of extra weight by cycling and turn into a sportive guy to whom young girls will storm around has become the current trend among young people.
Soon, we will submit “Healthy and Vibrant Mongol” project to the president. Mongolians have the potential to become the fittest and strongest young people in Asia. If we workout correctly and efficiently, we’ll be able to stand out from Asian youths and become healthier.
“Ulaanbaatar on Bicycles” project was included in the 2014 budget but wasn’t supported?
You can’t say it wasn’t supported. It received many votes because it was supported by many people. Last year’s project activity was significantly difficult. Also, the proposal wasn’t added through the government so some MPs added parts to the proposal during the meeting and additional proposals were blocked.
This year, how many kilometers of cycling lanes will be commissioned?
One billion MNT was planned for building cycling roads in Ulaanbaatar. When tenders were announced, two companies were chosen and begun working on the road construction. This year, around 20 kms of road will be built. The first road goes all the way to the end of Belkh Street. There is a 17.2 km long road on the northern side of Bogdkhan Mountain which was handed over to the Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar and a two billion MNT financing was issued. If this road is commissioned, Bogdkhan Mountain will get a complete circulating paved road.
Together with Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold, we’re planning to organize an international bicycle race named “Get Slim Bogd Khan.” From the Prime Minister’s budget, cycling and running lanes are being built at the National Garden Park which will soon be commissioned. We’re also planning to build a cycling road along Selbe River. We submitted a request to the Chinese Embassy to allow us to build a cycling road in Beijing Street through the capital city.
The Asian Youth Forum is taking place in September. How many representatives of how many countries will participate in this forum?
Last year with the support from the Prime Minister, Mongolian youths participated in the Asian Youth Forum with a variety of composition. Now, we’ll be taking up many responsibilities as we now have the honor of organizing the forum in Mongolia. The forum will take place in September in Ulaanbaatar directly under the auspices of the Prime Minister. Representatives of 25 Asian countries are to participate.
I met with the Asian Youth Council and the World Assembly of Youth to discuss and come to an agreement on the preparation work for the forum. The motto will be “Youth and Unity” and around 300 representatives from the Mongolian side and 300 representatives from foreign countries will participate. Soon there will be promotions for registering Mongolian representatives. Additional two meetings will be organized for this forum. The very first forum of Northeast Asian Youth will be co-organized with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
An integral issue of the Mongolian Youth Federation is children’s amusement park. Lately, there’s hasn’t been any news regarding the amusement park?
The struggle for children’s amusement park is still continuing. We got a new law so we’re trying to follow its principles. The Mongolian Youth Federation isn’t an abolishable organization that consists of some populists or a seal kept in someone’s bag. We are a responsible organization with many years of history. We’re doing whatever is necessary to work in accordance with the law. Many complaints from residents were dismissed at court.
Privatization issue of the amusement park was not permitted from the start. However, privatizations isn’t considered illegal. We’re in a dilemma regarding the court so this issue should be discussed by the National Security Council and they should submit proposals to relevant organizations. Shortly, we’ll submit issues to be discussed by the National Security Council.
A second session regarding the children’s amusement park will be organized. We will clarify many issues including as to why the amusement park issues aren’t being resolved, whether MCS Group fulfilled what they promised and what the capital city will do with the rest of the land. Mon-Uran Company said it’ll build more buildings. Just recently, the Youth Cultural Center was fully repaired and started operating. The ill-spoken Prime Minister was able to acquire money and repaired it. Just like this, many more centers will begin operating.
When will the second session be organized?
It’s planned to be organized by the end of this month. It depends on political situations as they tend to pressure us.
Are promises made during the first discussion session being fulfilled or has it been forgotten?
Troublemakers themselves should resolve their own problems but no one is resolving anything. The Mongolian Youth Federation is a nongovernmental organization so it’s better to clarify with those who made the promises themselves about this issue.
Forbes Magazine selects world’s top 30 young people. The Mongolian Youth Federation will be selecting Mongolia’s top 40 young people together with Forbes Mongolia Magazine. Why are you selecting 40 people?
Presently, those who bring prospects to Mongolia are not regarded as valuable entity to society. Heads of the government are seen as the most important figures. This is wrong. We mustn’t do this. We should be respecting those who bring prospects to society. A list of Mongolian entrepreneurs who should be the pride of Mongolia will be made. The best young people of Mongolia will be selected from those under the age of 40. Young people, who have brought new opportunity into society through their own success, not politically, will be ranked by the capital they’ve acquired.
What sort of criteria are set for the nominees?
There are several basic questions on the nomination form. The most important thing is their success and achievement. They could not only write detailed descriptions of their success but also add an attachment to prove it. Every successful young person under the age of 40 can become candidates which means that anyone can nominated these candidates. For example, nominate a person who is successfully running a company. We classified around 40 different sectors. We made applications for nominations. Those who want to nominate themselves or others will fill out nomination forms using this application and submit their material to the organizing committee by the end of May 20.
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