Untold Blogpost 9: Хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэд хотод нуугдаж амьдардаг

Мөнхбатын Сайнбуян

Энэ удаагийн зочин болох Анне Тулкин маань АНУ-аас холбогдлоо. Тэрээр АНУ-ын хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй оюутнуудад зориулсан Нээлттэй Коллеж (Accessible College)-ийг үүсгэн байгуулсан ба одоо захирлаар нь ажиллаж байна.

Хатагтай Тулкин 2007-2008 онд “Сургуульд суралцагч хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй хүүхдийн асуудалд хандах Монгол багш, сонирхогч бүлгүүдийн хандлага”-ын тухай магистрын ажлын судалгаа хийжээ. Бидэнтэй “Сайн байцгаана уу” хэмээн Монголоор мэндлээд, өөрийгөө манай улстай зүрх сэтгэлээрээ холбоотой нэгэн хэмээн танилцуулсан юм. Тэрээр анх 2003 онд АНУ-ын Энх тайвны корпусын сайн дурын ажилтнаар Дорнод аймгийн Чойбалсан хотын ерөнхий боловсролын 8-р сургуульд хоёр жил ажиллаж, тус сургуулийн багш нарын заах арга зүйг сайжруулах чиглэлээр Энх тайваны корпусын төсөл хэрэгжүүлжээ. Хожим АНУ-д магистрантурт суралцаж байхдаа Фулбрайтын хөтөлбөрийн тэтгэлэгт хамрагдан, өмнө дурдсан судалгааны ажлаа хийн, дахиад жил гаруй Монгол Улсад амьдарсан байна. Монголд элгэмсэг хатагтай Тулкин хуримынхаа бал сарыг хүртэл манай улсад тэмдэглэжээ.

Хөдөө орон нутагт хөгжлийн бэрхшээл илүү ойр мэдрэгддэг

Энх тайваны корпусын Монгол амьдрал, ахуйтай танилцах сургалтаа Хатагтай Тулкин Сэлэнгэ аймгийн Баруунхараа суманд хийжээ. Хөдөөний айлд гурван сар сууж, Монгол соёл, ёс заншилтай танилцаж, хэлний эрчимтэй сургалтад хамрагдсан тэрээр шууд алс зүүн хязгаарын Чойбалсан хотод ажиллахаар болжээ. Тус хотод  ажиллаж байхдаа тэрээр ерөнхий боловсролын сургуульд нь хэд хэдэн хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй хүүхдүүд байхыг анзаарчээ. Тухайн үед оюуны бэрхшээлтэй хүүхдийг эргэн тойрных нь хүмүүс “тэнэг хүүхэд” гэж дууддаг байсныг тэрээр дурсаад, аливаа хүн хөгжлийн бэрхшээлийг хэрхэн тодорхойлж байгаа нь тэдний хандлагаар илэрхийлэгддэг болохыг онцолсон. 

Мөн хөдөлгөөний бэрхшээлтэй хүүхдүүдийн хувьд сургуулийн орчин хүртээмжтэй бус, саад ихтэй байсан хэдий ч үе тэнгийн найзууд нь тэдэнд ихээхэн тусалдаг болохыг тэрээр ажигласан байна. Хоттой харьцуулахад хөдөө, орон нутагт хүн амын тоо бага учраас хүмүүс бие биенээ сайн таньдаг. Иймээс хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй нэгнийг нуух боломжгүй. Ийм нөхцөл байдлын улмаас хөдөө дэх хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэд хот суурин газартай харьцуулбал нийгмийн харилцаанд түлхүү ордог. Нутгийн иргэд хөгжлийн бэрхшээлийг Бурхны шашинтай холбон тайлбарладаг. Тухайлбал, өмнөх төрөлдөө муу зүйл үйлдвэл энэ төрөлдөө хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй болж төрнө гэх ойлголт Монголчуудын дунд зонхилж байсан нь хатагтай Тулкины гайхлыг төрүүлж байсан аж.  

Тэрээр Улаанбаатар хотод судалгааны ажлаа хийх явцдаа хотын амьдралтай танилцаж, хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийн амьдрал ахуй, тэдэнд хандах хүмүүсийн хандлагын талаарх бодлоо бидэнтэй илэн далангүй хуваалцсан юм. Хөдөөтэй харьцуулахад хотод хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй хүмүүс гадуур бараг л харагддаггүй, зөвхөн гуйлга гуйж байгаа юм уу эсвэл гэр оронгүй хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй хүмүүс л гудамжинд харагдагддаг. Учир нь Улаанбаатар хотын хувьд дэд бүтэц хүртээмжтэй бус, ээлгүй байгаагаас хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэд гадуур чөлөөтэй зорчиж чаддаггүйтэй холбоотой хэмээн тэр тайлбарлав. Мөн хотод хүмүүс илүү хаалттай төдийгүй хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй хүүхдээ бусад хүмүүсээс нуух тохиолдол ч байдгийг хатагтай Тулкин анзаарчээ.

Анне судалгаандаа хэд хэдэн чухал асуудлыг хөндсөн. Жишээлбэл, хөдөө орон нутагт хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэд илүү гадуур гарч, хүмүүстэй харилцдаг ч энэ нь яг тэгш хамруулалт байж чадах уу? Монголчуудын хувьд  тэгш хамруулалт гэж яг юуг хэлээд байгааг ойлгохыг оролдсон нь цаашид түүнийг  тусгай боловсролын чиглэлээр судалгаа хийхэд нь чухал нөлөө үзүүлжээ.

Зураг: Анне Чойбалсан хотын 8-р сургуулийн багш нарын хамт Хэнтий аймгийн Дадал сумд, 2004 он (Аннегийн зөвшөөрөлтэйгөөр оруулав)

Алдагдсан боломжууд

АНУ-ын хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийн эрхийг хамгаалах хууль эрх зүйн орчин нь хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийг  хамгаалах, дэмжихэд чухал нөлөө үзүүлснийг хатагтай Тулкин бидэнд онцолж байв. Ялангуяа, хоёр хуулийг ( The Rehabiliation Act 1973, Americans with Disabilities Act 1990) тэрээр тусгайлан дурьдаж, энэ нь АНУ зэрэг  хөгжингүй орнуудад дээр үеэс хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийнхээ  эрхийг хамгаалах, тэднийг хөдөлмөр эрхлэлт болон боловсролын салбарт  ялгаварлан гадуурхах явдлыг зогсоох, орчны хүртээмжийг сайжруулах зэрэгт анхаарч ирснийг сонсоод атаархаж сууснаа нуух аргагүй. Гэтэл манай  улсын хувьд хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийн эрхийн тухай хуулийг тавхан жилийн өмнө анх баталсан нь энэ хоёр нийгмийн хооронд асар их ялгаа байгааг түүнтэй ярилцахдаа мэдэрсэн юм. Хэдийгээр орчныг бүх нийтэд хүртээмжтэй болгох тухай хууль, дүрэм журам, стандарт нь батлагдчихсан боловч эдгээрийг хэрэгжүүлэх, хянан шалгах тогтолцоо сул байна. Үүнийг манай зочин онцолж, бид хууль тогтоомжоо хэрэгжүүлэхгүй, хяналтгүй сул орхисноор хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэд ээлтэй орчин буй болгох боломжоо энэ их хурдацтай хотжилтын үйл явцад алдсаар л байна. Анхнаас нь чанарын стандартын дагуу барихгүй, налуу зам барьсан гэсэн нэр төдий байх нь эргээд хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдэд учрах орчны саадыг арилгаж чадахгүй юм. Хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэд  гадуур чөлөөтэй, саадгүй явдаг байж л нийгмийн амьдралд тэгш хамрагдаж, өөрсдийн эрхийг хамгаалахаар гарч ирж, дуу хоолойгоо хүргэх болно гэдгийг тэрээр онцолсон юм. 

АНУ-ын хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийн эрхээ хамгаалуулахаар тэмцэж буй баримтат кино (Crip Camp)-г үзэхийг хатагтай Тулкин бидэнд санал болгосон. Энэ нь манайхан ч гэсэн АНУ-ын нэгэн адил  хүний эрхийг дээдлэдэг ардчилсан орны хувьд иргэд дуу хоолойгоо чөлөөтэй илэрхийлээсэй, хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэд маань эрхийнхээ төлөө тэмцээсэй гэж хэлэхийг зорьсон мэт. Ярилцлагын явцад зочин маань Монгол хүмүүст байдаг сайхан чанарыг олонтаа дурсаж байв. Тухайлбал, Монголд гудамжинд явж буй хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийг хараад хэн ч уриалгахан тусалдаг нь нөгөө талаараа тэдэнд өдөр тутамд тулгардаг орчны саадыг нь давахад тусалдаг гэсэн юм.

Зураг: Анне найз Сараагийн ахын хамт Дорнод аймагт, 2004 он (Аннегийн зөвшөөрөлтэйгөөр оруулав)

ХБИ-ийн талаарх ойлголтыг нэмэгдүүлэхдээ

Хатагтай Тулкин 2008 онд хийсэн судалгааны ажилдаа манайд хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийн талаарх ойлголт, хандлага муу байгаа нь нийгэмд эргээд олон сөрөг асуудал үүсэхэд нөлөөлж байдаг талаар бичсэн байдаг. Хэрхэн хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийн талаарх ойлголтыг нэмэгдүүлж, хандлагыг эерэг болгох талаарх бидний асуултад тэрээр ямар ч эргэлзээгүйгээр мэдээллийн хэрэгслүүдээр хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийн төлөөллийг оруулцуул, олон нийтэд таниулах хэрэгтэй гэж хэлсэн юм. Хэдийгээр нийгэмд  энэ асуудлаар бусад хүмүүс ярихгүй байсан ч гэсэн дуу хоолойгоо тасралтгүй хүргэх хэрэгтэй гэж тэрээр үздэг аж. Мөн Монголчуудыг Солонгос олон ангит кино үзэх дуртайг анзаарсан тэрээр хөгжлийн бэрхшээлтэй иргэдийн  талаарх дэлгэцийн контентыг нийтэд хүргэх нь үр дүнтэй аргуудын нэг хэмээн онцолсон юм. Эцэст нь хэлэхэд, зочин маань Монголд байхдаа Шар хадны эмнэлэгт (СЭМҮТ) оюуны хувьд ямар ч бэрхшээлгүй  тархины саажилттай хүүхдүүдийг байлгаж байсныг хараад  хэрвээ тэр хүүхдүүд АНУ-д төрсөн бол амьдрал нь ямар өөр байх байсан гэсэн бодол төрсөн гэдгээ хуваалцсан нь бид цаашид ямар их зүйл хийх хэрэгтэй, АНУ зэрэг орнуудаас хичнээн хол байгааг ахин нэг удаа ухааруулсан юм.  

М.Сайнбуян – Монголын Бодлогын Инновацийн Хүрээлэнгийн төслийн зохицуулагч бөгөөд Канадын Вотерлүүгийн Их Сургуульд улс төр судлал болон БНСУ-ын Ёнсей Их сургуульд эдийн засгийн чиглэлээр магистрын зэрэг тус тус хамгаалсан. Энэхүү подкастыг Фридрих-Эбертийн сангийн дэмжлэгтэйгээр хийлээ.

Posted in Education, Human Rights, People with Disabilities, Podcast, United States | Leave a comment

Party Support Across Aimags and the City

By Julian Dierkes

In 1996, the predecessor(s) of the DP won 50 of the 76 parliamentary seats at a time when P Ochirbat was still serving as president, having been swept into office by the democratic revolution. That was the last time a single political grouping (not quite a party yet) was as dominant as the MPP is now, having secured the presidency for U Khurelsukh after winning a landslide victory in the 2020 parliamentary election. The 1996 election seemed to herald a fundamental shift away from the then-MPRP, while the current situation represents the resurgence of the now-MPP and the demise of the DP seems increasingly likely. There will be much speculation and observation of the DP in the coming years, but here, I want to briefly focus on the election results of the three candidates/parties.

Khurelsukh/MPP

Talk about a landslide! Not only the biggest margin of victory in any presidential election, but some pretty astonishing margins in specifics aimags. Sure, aimags like Gobi-Altai or Sukhbaatar are not very populous (around 40k registered voters) but shares of the vote of 84.6% and 87.2%, respectively, are pretty astonishing in an election where voters had three other choices (if you include the blank ballot as an alternative) and were free to actually make that choice.

The 82.5% support in Khentii can at least be explained by that being Khurelsukh’s home province, but some of the other results? Yes, Gobi-Altai and Sukhbaatar had backed M Enkhbold in 2017 as well, but barely. Gobi-Altai in particular is surprising as the aimag had backed S Ganbaatar with over a third of the vote in 2017. While some of that might have been MPRP loyalists who might have voted MPP this time, a good number of those voters must have been protest voters (i.e. anti-MAHAH) and thus not likely Khurelsukh backers.

In Gobi-Altai, Khurelsukh garnered over 18,000 votes where M Enkhbold had received just under 9,600 or about half. [I will use approximate numbers below in case preliminary results are further adjusted. I’m working with ikon.mn’s summary of results because it is graphically most attractive.]

Khurelsukh’s “weakest” results came in the two almost-urban aimags of Darkhan-Uul and Orkhon, and in the Ulaanbaatar city districts, of course. Of the provinces, Selenge returned the weakest result for Khurelsukh with a still-astonishing 69.9%, but Selenge also had a very low turnout at 51.2%.

The city is a different story. Ignoring the smaller satellite districts, Khurelsukh’s strongest result came in Songinokhairkhan (67.3%, close to the national result of 67.7%), while the weakest result was still a majority of voters in Bayangol district (52.6%).

Enkhbat/KhUN

My Twitter bubble was pretty enthusiastic about Enkhbat’s candidacy. Perhaps more enthusiastic even than about KhUN in last year’s parliamentary election. And, perhaps, no surprise there, as foreign-trained, professional Ulaanbaatarites were assumed to be a strong source of support and are also represented disproportionately among my contacts. The greatest fear about Enkhbat’s chances probably was whether he was known by/would connect with rural voters.

His 20.3% really seems like quite a success in light of those questions. Yes, he did not come close to challenging Khurelsukh, nor even to forcing a run-off, but his candidacy certainly caught many voters’ attention despite his relative lack of political visibility since leaving parliament in 2012, and the very short campaign period to allow him to make himself better-known.

Some of the strong showing for Enkhbat surely is linked to the disaster that was the DP campaign. But note that Enkhbat came ahead of Erdene in all aimags except for Arkhangai and Bayan-Ulgii and his lead was typically greater than the share of blank ballots which most likely were DP protest voters.

Mongolians living abroad overwhelmingly supported Enkhbat, but that support only added 4k votes overall as voters had to come to embassies, something that might have been doable in geographically smaller countries like Japan or Germany, but a massive hurdle in Canada and the U.S., for example, particularly during pandemic travel injunctions.

In the populous city districts, Enkhbat received more than 30% of the votes in Bayangol, Bayanzurkh, Sukhbaatar, and Khaan-Uul while still receiving more than 20% in Songinokhairkhan and Chingeltei. Clearly, this vote went much, much beyond a bubble of foreign-educated urban elites. In those six populous districts, Enkhbat received more than 160k votes, hardly an elite in a city of 1.some million inhabitants.

The most interesting result for the imminent future here is Songinokhairkhan, as D Sumiyabazar relinquished his parliamentary seat from that district when he became governor of Ulaanbaatar, necessitating a by-election for that seat. Vote shares here were Khurelsukh 67.3 (79k) Enkhbat 22.7% (27k) Erdene 4% (5k) blank  6% (7k) on turnout of 58.8%. Surely, KhUN will want to capitalize on Enkhbat’s success in the presidential election in that by-election, perhaps even by nominating Enkhbat and integrating him into the party.

Erdene/DP

There are so many ways in which this election was a (largely) self-inflicted disaster for S Erdene and for the DP.

There are no bright spots in the election results for Erdene or for the DP. Even if we assume that the majority of blank ballots cast were disaffected DP voters, the DP barely received over 20% in Arkhangai, an aimag where Battulga (barely) came ahead of M Enkhbold in the 2017 run-off. In Khovd, Ts Elbegdorj’s нутаг, the combined Erdene vote and blank ballots barely reached 13.3%, just ahead of Enkhbat at 12.7% and that assumes that all the blank ballots cast were DP voters.

In some of the most populous Ulaanbaatar ridings, Erdene barely received over 4% of the votes. 4%!

Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Mongolian People's Party, National Labor Party, Party Politics, Politics, Presidential 2021 | Tagged | Leave a comment

Presidential Election Analyses & Outlook

Public Podium Discussion

Friday, June 11 18h (PST)/Saturday, June 12 9h (Ulaanbaatar)

Program

Moderator: Julian Dierkes, Univ of British Columbia

Observations on the Ground

  • Enkhtsetseg D, Open Society Forum: Domestic Election Observations
  • Jana Zilkova, Caritas Czech Republic in Mongolia: International Election Observations
  • Anand T, Journalist: Covering the Presidential Election

Observations from Afar

Discussion

Posted in Democracy, Elections, Events, Politics, Presidential 2021, Research on Mongolia, Video | Leave a comment

More on the DP’s Platform – Future Directions in Human Rights and Governance?

By Marissa J. Smith

Last week I wrote a post overviewing the final section of the Democratic Party candidate S. Erdene’s campaign platform. I have had a chance since to read the remainder of the program closely, and am struck by the rest of the program’s specificity as well.

So what, you may ask? Especially now that the vote has come in, with Erdene dead last, with only six percent of the vote (just ahead of the “blank ballot” vote).

The DP platform intrigues me because it calls out with specificity issues with human rights and governance that have been at the forefront of policy debates for months, and though they have not been named in either the MPP (nor, notably, the KhUN) platforms, are not likely to go away. Their presence in Erdene’s platform also, I think, hints that there may be more unity in the DP than they have been given credit for (though the DP itself seems unlikely to be the vehicle through which these issues will be pressed, in the near term at least).

Balance of Power

While naming constitutional limits on the powers of the President, limits aggressively pursued by the MPP during the term of the DP president Battulga, the DP platform of candidate Erdene makes very specific proposals to change the structure of government. The platform points out remaining concerns about the powers of the National Security Council, and the hierarchical structure of prosecutors’ organization, as in need of reform. Limiting the investigation of grand corruption to the Anti-Corruption Agency is also proposed. These are in alignment with issues that have been at the forefront of conversations about political reform for some time now, but again, are absent from the MPP platform. (In this vein, Enkhbat’s platform is notable for calling for a legalization of the proportional electoral system, 4.3.)

In proposals that are more directed at checking the MPP’s power (and perhaps also checking loss of centralized control on the part of the DP), the DP platform also proposes to increase transparency over party finances, and to place limits on the elaboration of local party organization. (“Considering the huge amount of empty politicization and divisions at the primary and middle levels of government, a policy will be developed to create a legal environment that restricts the establishment of branches and units of political parties at the soum, bagh, district and khoroo levels.“)

Human Rights

As with the excerpts I previously covered, there is detail the DP platform about pressing human rights issues. While the MPP platform merely names “freedom of the press” as a human right that will be protected, the DP platform states (albeit in a section on anti-corruption) that it will protect whistleblowers (Mongolia has no whistleblower protection law). As previously covered, however, the platform also proposes to “abolish criminal liability for exercising freedom of the press.” The MPP platform notably makes no mention of Mongolia’s horrifying record of violence against women documented in 2017 by the UNFPA, and according to the UNDP of additional concern during the pandemic, while the DP platform calls attention even to workplace harassment (while gains have been made criminalizing domestic violence against women, sexual harassment has not yet been criminalized, despite the activism of many Mongolian women).

Overlaps

There is some overlap with the MPP’s platform. Both include statements about relationships with the global Mongolian diaspora, including with children who have been born abroad. Both also highlight the European Union in statements in the platform about broadening visa-free travel for Mongolian citizens. Both platforms also highlight violence against children as an issue to be tackled. Finally, while the DP lacks the detail of the MPP’s program on specific “mega-projects” and development plans for particular cities and regions, it is notable that the DP program states that only “at least ten percent” of state enterprises such as Erdenet be privatized via the Mongolian stock exchange.

Divergences on Military, Foreign Relations

(See also Bulgan’s post on this. She raises the very interesting issue of the difficulty of the Mongolian president’s position being prominent in international relations, but with limited powers.)

While both the MPP and the DP platforms discuss third neighbor policies and the military, there are notable differences. The DP platform highlights a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with the US and Japan as a goal, while the MPP platform notes “third neighbors,” but the only two countries specifically named are Russia and China. (Reference to “two foreign global languages” in secondary and higher education, “once the mother tongue is mastered,” is also made.) Regarding the military, the DP names a “Strong and Fast Army” program with recruitment of university students in computer technology, math, physics, and a focus on cyber security. On the other hand, the MPP platform proposes broader military participation — “The military unit and branch should be developed as a school for patriotic upbringing of young people, physical development, mental strength, acquisition of certain professions, human development environment and civic development” (2.2.9) and programs of military training for university and high school students( (3.1.15) (perhaps recognizing the fallout over Oyun-Erdene’s comments on the occasion of this past Women’s Day, young women’s participation is proposed to be strictly voluntary.)

Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Governance, Human Rights, Marissa Smith, Mongolian Diaspora, Politics, Presidential 2021 | Tagged | Leave a comment

Presidential election candidates platform

By Bulgan B

The presidential election campaigning has ended officially on June 8 2021. The campaign lasted for ten days, and tomorrow, June 9th, we are likely to have a result or a likely decision on whether a second vote will be necessary as was the case in 2017.

Although late, I wanted to briefly survey each campaign platform on three main areas: Foreign Affairs and Military issues. According to the amendment to the constitution, the president would have a certain power in symbolic terms or executive terms (see article) over these three domains. Although judiciary is another area where previous President’s try to leverage power through appointments judges, prosecutors with the amendment to the constitution (Mongolia focus blogged extensively on it, please see here, and here for more information) the powers are restricted.

Before diving into the two categories, a short synopsis of the platforms is included below.

Right Person Electorate Coalition candidate D Enkhbat’s platform

Slogan/Motto: Do not include their campaign slogan. Their campaign slogan was “Mongolia can” – or “Mongolia is able” (See Marissa’s article for slogans for details and nuances).

General Summary: Compared to the other two candidates’ platforms, D Enkbat’s platform is only half as long, only seven pages. The platform includes a short introductory paragraph where it makes reference to Mongolia’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The platform continues with nine sections that are named as a declaration: [I] Shall be a President that:

  1. Enables unity, justice and equity.
  2. Protects national security and independence.
  3. Supports education policy that is based on sophisticated/developed systems and leading technology.
  4. Strengthens parliamentary democracy and human rights.
  5. Supports (pro) environment and sustainable development.
  6. Supports a sustainable economy that ensures innovation, free and healthy competition.
  7. Prioritizes national interests, and meets international standards, and respects foreign relations that are equal (balanced).
  8. Cherishes healthy Mongolians and Mongolian future.
  9. Rely on the citizen, not on any interest groups.

Democratic Party candidate S Erdene’s platform

Slogan/Motto: A country that respects individual rights – was the slogan for the platform. The campaign however used “Mongolia without Dictatorship” (see Marissa’s entry on slogans).

General Summary: The platform is 14 pages long, and has six sections. The introduction section includes references to “respecting the parliamentary governance”, “foreign policy that targets third neighbours” and reviving Democratic Mongolia. The intro section includes four bullet points declare to strengthen:

  • Mongolia’s foundational/root interests,
  • Mongolian’s human rights, and freedom,
  • Private property and economic rights and
  • Rule of law, and just government.

The six main sections are:

  1. National unity – Democratic governance
  2. Mongolian – Mongolian ethnos
  3. Foreign Relations – Neutrality policy
  4. Defence
  5. National Security
  6. Others

Mongolian People’s Party candidate U Khurelsukh’s platform

Slogan/Motto: The platform did not include its campaign slogan as part of the platform. U Khurelsukh’s campaign slogans are: “Owners of your wealth” and “Let’s serve/strive for Mongolia”  (see Marissa’s article for more). However, each subsection had motto/slogans or vignettes included that are different than the general campaign slogans.

General Summary: The length of the platform was the same as S Erdene’s, 14 pages long. The platform is divided into three main sections and each section has three subsections. The main sections are 1. Justice, 3. Unity and 3. Development. Below are the sections/subsections.

  1. Justice includes 1.1. Responsible Government – Just society, 1.2. Inclusive economy (not quite the translation – Иргэндээ хүртээмжтэй эдийн засаг) – fair distribution (of wealth). 1.3. National heritage and values to cherish.
  2. Unity includes 2.1. National unity to prioritize and protect, 2.2. National foundational/root interests and security, 2.3. A foreign policy to lead us to development.
  3. The development includes 3.1. Mongolian – Mongolian wealth, 3.2. Green Development – Mongolian Future; 3.3. Rural and Urban – Developmental Balance (equity).

Candidates’ stand on Foreign Affairs issues

The powers of the president on foreign affairs are limited.  Following three are the general areas of responsibility and rights:

  1. President holds power to represent Mongolia in foreign relations and can establish international contracts on behalf of Mongolia based on discussion with the parliament.
  2. President appoints and recalls ambassadors to other countries based on discussion with the parliament.
  3. President receives a letter of credence and recall of foreign heads of diplomatic missions.

Candidates have expressed their agenda on the first items – where they focus to improve relationships with the third neighbours and continue to respect the friendly relationships with the two neighbours.

The language/tone much differed between MPP ruling party candidate Khurelsukh and the other two candidates. U Kurelsukh’s language has not considered the limitations of the Presidential powers – and proposed implement activities. On the other hand, candidate D Enkhbat’s platform appeared general and S Erdene’s platform also struggled to remain within the established boundaries of the presidential powers.

D Enkhbat: Section 7. [I] shall be a President that prioritizes national interests, and meets international standards, and respects foreign relations that are equal (balanced).

Proposes to abide by the National Security Concept Paper as well as the Third Neighbour Policy and develop foreign relations policy that will support the joint implementation of big/mega projects. He also included friendly economic relations with the two neighbours China and Russia.

In terms of impact, will continue to advocate Mongolia as a centre for international dialogue, discussion and high-level meeting platform through active participation in the international community initiatives.

He includes that awareness and understanding of the existing economic structure, barriers, dependence and vulnerability and asserts that he will not tamper with the existing ecosystem (read the influence of China and Russia).  At the same time, he proposes to focus on mitigating these challenges and improve immunity and support a self-relied economy.

Domestically, he proposes to improve public servant’s knowledge, skills and capacity in the foreign relations area.

S Erdene: Section 3. Foreign Relations – Neutrality policy

Also, continue to respect the two neighbours and will improve the relationship with the third neighbours. He mentions the USA, UK, Japan, EU, India, Korea and Turkey – as examples of countries that he would pursue to strengthen the third neighbour policy. Also, his platform proposes to improve the “strategic bilateral relations” to “comprehensive bilateral relations” with the USA and Japan.

On the two neighbours, the platform proposes that S. Erdene will hold a trilateral meeting of Russia, China and Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar – and will have a balanced, flexible and pragmatic policy in dealing with the neighbours.

Some specific action items included are:
-eliminate the Schengen visa for Mongolians by 2027;
-firmly support the goal of a peaceful solution to the Korean Peninsula issue and
-becoming an exporter to the Asian transport and energy networks (roads, airways, railways, etc.).;
-will work to have the parliament approve the initiatives on open/free zone to attract international investment in technology, industry and environment;
-work to include the participation of journalists in the peacekeeping missions;
-integrate into Asian transportation routes (road, railroad and air routes);
-one window policy for Economy and Foreign Relations;
-establish a new council foreign relations promotion (Гадаад харилцааны сурталчилгааны)under the President;
-work to open branches of international organizations, such as UN-affiliated organizations on human rights and education.

U Khurelsukh: Section 2.3. A foreign policy to lead us to development.

Similar to the other two candidates, the continued relationship with the two neighbours and improve outcomes from the engagement with the third neighbour. Compared to the other two candidates, the language shows the tone that I will get it done despite the fact that President’s power is limited.

He has specific sections on the international reputation of Mongolia, UN participation, foreign investment to help development, strong Mongolian passport (increase visa-free countries twofold), health diplomacy (pandemic related policy – nothing specific), cultural diplomacy and improving the capacity of the diplomatic missions as well as the officials.

Candidates’ stand on Military issues

The president is the Chief of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces and is the head of the National Security Council (Prime Minister and Speaker are members).

The powers that the president holds as the Chief of General Staff and Armed Forces raises certain concerns as it is a big power – and incumbent president Kh. Battulga and MPP candidate U Khurelsukh – directly and indirectly, make references to use the power of the military. Regarding the Head of the National Security Council – this is a consultative body – not an executive body.

D Enkhbat: Section 2 [I] Shall be a President that protects national security and independence.

Enkhbat made references to independence, territory and borders, unity, human rights, parliamentary democracy, corruption, ethics in the national security sections. There were two paragraphs (subsections) 2.6 and 2.7 explicitly referenced defence policy and defence sector, and reference to the armed forces is that he will work to support strategic, scientific and technologically enabled resources for the armed forces. On defence, he says he will continue to support the existing policy and will intensify the reform of the sector.

S Erdene: Section 4. Defence and Section 5. National Security

Section for 4. The candidate proposes that as the Chief of the Armed Forces – will initiate “Strong and Fast Army” and within the first 100-days in the office will implement “Military Police”. He will establish the International Centre of Peacekeeping in Mongolia, through it will attract investment to establish hospital engineering, infrastructure and advanced technology. In addition create student-soldier for professions in computing, mathematics and physics – to help with the non-traditional cyber units.

Followings are activities proposed in this section as well:

  • establish a special unit (and its resources) to prevent cyber threats,
  • implement policy to a couple professional army and citizen protection,
  • improve modernize the conscripted soldiers program, and implement emergency management to military units;
  • initiate a law that creates a body that prevents (and fights) and is able to respond to non-traditional security threats (pandemic, cyber attack, disinformation)

In section 5. National Security – The DP candidate included wide compassing issues, such development/maturity of political parties, party’s financial transparency, poverty, natural resource wealth distribution, energy, nomadic animal husbandry, climate change, water issues, bio-safety and reforming of the religious institutions.

As the head of the National Security Council – he proposes three agendas that include submitting law to reform the roles and responsibilities, reform emergency structure and response through a participatory process and will prevent the President to express personal positions that concern the issues of independence and foreign policy.

Another major piece under the section is on “Corruption” – that he declares corruption as the “enemy” that threatens national security and he proposes the five initiatives.

  1. Disclosure of income sources of the senior public servants;
  2. Initiate law that voters can withdraw MPs from the parliament if they deceived voters and lost voters trust;
  3. Enable a legal environment where senior officials violate existing laws and legislation that ensures transparency;
  4. Improve the system where the political party’s financial information is public through participatory hearing, discussion and process.
  5. Educate the anti-corruption body, and create a legal environment to separate the criminal functions.

U Khurelsukh: Section 2.2.National foundational/root interests and Security 

On national security, U Khurelsukh proposed to implement  “Mongolian citizen’s security/safety”, “Economic security” and “Pharmaceutical and food security” programs.

Also, he proposes to have a “National security integrated database” – to strengthen the government’s institutional memory.

On defence, the platform has two sections, 1. Armed forces with integrated management and 2. Mongolian soldier – peacekeeping soldier. The Armed forces with integrated management section involve further reforming the legislation of the military and create integrated management for armed forces and other administrative management. The improvement of the border units/regiments and national emergency

 

Posted in Democratic Party, Judiciary, Military, Mongolia and ..., Mongolian People's Party, National Labor Party, Party Politics, Presidential 2021 | Tagged | Leave a comment

“First 100 Days In Office” from DP Program on Instagram

by Marissa J. Smith

S. Erdene, the Democratic Party candidate in the 2021 Presidential elections (just over one week away), has just (on the evening of June 1, 2021) posted excerpts from the official program on Instagram. I translate the posts below.

In summary, the proposals for candidate Erdene’s “first one hundred days in office” are draft laws. They include some that point to deficiencies in Mongolian democracy that often escape all but the most critical and close-grained analyses — that Mongolian journalists have often been subjected to libel and defamation laws, most lately with the criminalization of “dissemination of false information;” that many migrants to Ulaanbaatar are unable to access public services that they are entitled to as citizens, as they have been unable to register their residence since anti-air pollution measures came into place in 2017; and that many Mongolian lenders charge tremendously high amounts of interest as Mongolians continue to carry very high burdens of debt. A proposed draft law granting partial pension benefits on the death of a pensioner to households in cases “where the pensioner has lived with the household for a long time” also nods to the dire economic straits that many Mongolians find themselves in.

At the same time, it bears mentioning that many of the proposals are vague, and the particularly the ones aiming to increase “citizen’s participation” would be reduplicating existing legislation that has been characterized by implementation gaps.

[One of a series of posts from Эрдэнэ Содномзундуй (@erdene.sodnomzundui), June 1, 2021, translated below]

[1.]

Submit a draft law to increase civilian control over military service.

(Create a new legal environment for the establishment of a new military police force under the General Staff of the Armed Forces, which will receive civil rights and complaints and enforce military discipline.)

Цэргийн албанд иргэний хяналтыг нэмэгдүүлэх хуулийн төслийг өргөн барина.

(Зэвсэгт хүчний жанжин штабын дэргэд иргэний эрх, гомдлыг хүлээн авдаг, армийн сахилга хариуцлагыг сахиулах эрх бүхий цэргийн цагдаагийн албыг шинээр байгуулах эрх зүйн орчныг бүрдүүлэх)

[2.]

Submit an independent draft law clarifying the legal grounds in the case an elected or appointed high-ranking public official commits an ethical violation, legislating obligations to apologize to the public and for his or her  dismissal.

Сонгогдсон, томилогдсон төрийн өндөр албан тушаалтан нь ёс зүйн зөрчил гаргасан бол олон нийтээс уучлал гуйх үүргийг хуульчилж, түүнийг огцруулах, чөлөөлөх хууль эрх зүйн үндэслэлийг тодорхой болгох бие даасан хуулийн төсөл өргөн барина.

[3.]

Submit a draft law to reform the civil service access system.

(Citizens can receive public services such as civil registration, social insurance, health care, and taxes, regardless of territorial or administrative unit)

Иргэний төрийн үйлчилгээ авах тогтолцоог шинэчлэх хуулийн төслийг өргөн барина.

(Иргэн нь иргэний бүртгэл, нийгмийн даатгал, эрүүл мэнд, татвар зэрэг төрийн үйлчилгээг нутаг дэвсгэр, засаг захиргааны нэгж харгалзахгүйгээр авах)

[4.]

Submit a draft law on bag and khoroo management.

(A draft law on the equal participation of all citizens in nominating bag and khoroo governors to higher level governors and electing Citizen’s Representative Khural chairmen from the general population.)

Баг, хорооны удирдлагын талаарх хуулийн төслийг өргөн барина.

(Баг, хорооны Засаг даргыг дээд шатны Засаг даргад санал болгох, ИТХ-ын даргыг бүх иргэдийг тэгш оролцуулах үүднээс нийт иргэдээс сонгуулийн журмаар сонгох хуулийн төсөл)

[5.]

Submit a draft law to protect freedom of the press.

(Increase the guarantees of press freedom, the so-called fourth estate of a democratic society, and abolish criminal liability for exercising freedom of the press)

Хэвлэлийн эрх чөлөөг хамгаалах хуулийн төслтийг өргөн барина.

(Ардчилсан нийгмийн дөрөвдөгч засаглал гэгдэх хэвлэлийн эрх чөлөөний баталгааг дээшлүүлж, хэвлэл мэдээллийн эрх чөлөөгөө эдэлсний төлөө эрүүгийн хариуцлага хүлээлгэдэг жишгийг хална)

[6.]

The “right of citizens to ask questions” will be guaranteed, and a draft law will be submitted to each government organization to hold annual hearings on expenditure and operational reports for citizens, business entities and professionals.

“Иргэний асуулга асуух эрх”-ийг баталгаажуулж, төрийн байгууллага бүр жил бүр иргэд, салбарын ажахуйн нэгж, мэргэжилтнүүдэд хөрөнгө зарцуулалтын болон үйл ажиллагааны тайлангийн сонсгол хийдэг байх хуулийн төслийг өргөн барина.

[7.]

Draft law on collective pensions.

(With the enactment of the Collective Pension Law, which was repealed in 2017, the old-age pension will be inherited at a rate of 50-100 percent in the event of the death of a family member who has lived with [a household] for many years.)

Хамтын тэтгэврийн тухай хуулийн төсөл.

(2017 Оноос хэрэгжиж эхлэх байсан ч хүчингүй болгосон Хамтын тэтгэврийн тухай хууль хэрэгжиж эхэлснээр олон жил хамт амьдарсан гэр бүлийн гишүүдийн нэг нь нас барсан тохиолдолд өндөр насны тэтгэвэр нь 50-100 хувиар тооцож өвлөгдөн үлддэг болно.)

 

These posts are somewhat different from the exact content in the official program. The items as reproduced on Instagram are in a different order, and the program also includes:

8. Төрийн тод байдлыг сайжруулах хуулийн төсөл (Ил тод байдал, олон нийтийн хяналт нь авлигаас урьдчилан сэргийлэх хамгийн чухал хөшүүрэг гэж үзэн Шилэн дансны тухай хууль, мэдээллийн ил тод байдал, мэдээлэл авах эрхийн тухай хууль тогтоомж зөрчсөн удирдах албан,тушаалтанд эрүүгийн хариуцлага хүлээлгэх)

Draft Law on Improving State Transparency (Considering transparency and public scrutiny as the most important incentives to prevent corruption, criminalize officials who violate the Glass Account Law, information transparency, and the right to information)

9. Зээлийн хүүгийн дээд хязгаар тогтоох тухай хуулийн төсөл (мөнгө хүүлэлтийн эсрэг, харилцагчийн эрх ашгийг хамгаалах олон улсын сайн жишигт нийцүүлэх)

Draft law on setting maximum interest rates (in line with good international standards against money laundering and consumer protection)

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Untold Blogpost 8: Everyone Has the Right to Learn

By Mendee Jargalsaikhan

Our guest today is Ms. Munkhzul.D, a principal of the 263rd public kindergarten in Songino Khairkhan district of the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. After graduating from the Mongolian State University of Education in 2011, this kind-hearted lady works passionately with the children. In this podcast, she shared her experience of welcoming a child with cerebral palsy – a group of disorders affecting a child’s ability to move and maintain the balance – into her kindergarten.

Welcoming a Mom and a Child with Disability

As the newly built kindergarten was preparing to open, a mother with a three-year-old boy came by and asked whether it was possible to get her child enrolled in this kindergarten. Munkhzul recalled that moment when she immediately put herself in that mom’s shoes. Since the inclusive educational environment was already legalized, the child’s residency belongs to her kindergarten’s coverage zone, and kindergarten teachers already have been taught at university how to teach children with disabilities, she decided to accept the boy. Moreover, she hired his mom as an assistant teacher because she had all the qualifications for the job. Then, through World Vision, she began to work with Doctor Narantsetseg of the Mongolian National University of Medical Science and specialists of the Development Centre for Children with Disabilities. Furthermore, she set up a support team, which consisted of classroom teacher, an assistant teacher, a kindergarten doctor, a nurse, and his mom. According to the initial assessment, the boy’s linguistic and mobility level was at the level of a two-year-old child although he was actually three years old. Since the child lives with his mom and his brother, and could not enroll in any kindergarten before, he did not have much social interactions – which is a key element to assess a child’s level of disability. Following the assessment, the support team developed a plan and worked together to help the boy.

Photo: The boy in the Rehabilitation Center for Children with Disabilities in Mongolia(with the permission of Munkhzul)

Initial Challenges

The most immediate challenge was posed by the attitudes of other parents and his classmates. Even though the disability is not an infectious disease, parents were asking why their children were studying with a disabled child and, some even wanted to change their children’s class. The principal and teachers tried to explain this to other parents, but some of them were slow to change their attitude. Classmates, as Munkhzul recalls, were first surprised of the boy’s difference, why he could not walk, and talked strangely. So, the teachers decided to show an animated movie about children with disabilities. She said watching animated movie is one of the best methods to explain things for kindergartners. After four months, his classmates’ attitudes began to change. Some wanted to help him brush his teeth, go to washroom, and get a toy. Others played with him. So, the boy began to lose his shyness through these social interactions. There were noticeable improvements in his speech. However, his mom, who works as an assistant teacher, comes early in the morning by piggybacking her child into class and leaves after everyone has left. As Munkhzul explains, she does not want to get her child hurt when someone says something bad. One time, an elderly man called her child spoiled – as his mom carried him because he cannot walk. However, the elder man did not know the boy was suffering from cerebral palsy and his mom did not want to explain.

Photo: The children of the kindergarten (with the permission of Munkhzul)

Work with and Listen to Kindergarten Teachers

In the public kindergarten, a teacher and assistant work with about 30-35 children. Despite excessive workload, kindergarten teachers are experienced to observe each child and always seek ways to help children learn. Here, particularly when working with a child with disability, the parental collaboration and feedback is most important. If a child’s disability is diagnosed as early as possible, teachers and parents can work together to help the child develop certain skills and teach how to socialize with other children. There are two types of parents, as Munkhzul explains, one is like the woman who tirelessly seeks all possible ways to work with teachers and specialists, but there are other ones who do not want to accept the fact that their child has some type of disability. And she shared her past experiences as working as a teacher. After she noticed a child could not draw properly, especially when using colours. So, she asked her mom, a well-educated lady, to have her child diagnosed by specialists along with her kindergarten doctor. But on the next day, the husband blamed her for discriminating his child and complained to the principal for mistreating his child. It took almost a year for these parents to have their child diagnosed, who then needed to have some assistive glasses. If they had followed the teacher’s suggestion a year earlier, it would have been much better for the child. Also, there are some other parents who bring their child in the beginning of the school year in September; however, they do not realize the kindergarten needs to prepare to accommodate a child with disability, because every disability is different. This would help the kindergarten staff to develop a specific training and evaluation program, which is tailored for that child. Therefore, parents should visit the kindergarten in the spring and collaborate with the kindergarten for the next school year.

Photo: Munkhzul with her colleagues (with the permission of Munkhzul)

Psychological Counselling and Early Diagnosis

According to Munkhzul’s observations, parents with disabled children experience two types of challenges. The first is to deal with the psychological and mental hardship. In most cases, men are more likely to abandon their children and mothers stay with their children. Or, even if both parents stay together, mostly mothers stay home to take care of their child with disability. Single parents with disabled kids could not work, which further leads them to be isolated from social interactions. Thus, they become more stressed and sensitive. Therefore, these parents are in greater need of counselling, coaching, and even talking with people who understand their problems and help them find ways to overcome the mental hardship. The other is to improve the early diagnosing. For example, a woman, who brought her child to Munkhzul’s kindergarten, spent almost three years trying to get a proper diagnosis. All specialists gave her a different diagnosis; as a result, she did not get social welfare benefits for taking care of her son, nor subsidies for her son’s medical services and assistive device (walking aid for a child with cerebral palsy). If the doctors had diagnosed her child properly as earlier, she would have gotten some financial assistance and her son would have received the right medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Photo: a teacher and children of the kindergarten during a class (with the permission of Munkhzul)

Impacts of COVID-19

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been tremendous on kindergarten children, as explained by our earlier guests, disabled children develop more when they are in social interactions. Despite this difficulty, Munkhzul and her teachers spent more time on professional development. For example, they had a two-day workshop with Ms Kimiko – a Japanese kindergarten teacher working in Mongolia.

The Untold podcast and blog post are made available by the generous support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Mongolia. We also want to thank our editor Riya Tikku.

Posted in Education, Mendee Jargalsaikhan, People with Disabilities, Podcast, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Presidential Campaign Slogans

By Marissa J. Smith and Julian Dierkes

Obviously, election campaigns are not entirely defined by campaign slogans. Nevertheless, slogans are a shorthand how candidates and parties are trying to present themselves, so we hope that a brief discussion of slogans might be of interest.

2020 parliamentary election campaign slogans

Here is a tweet tile summarizing the three presidential candidates’ slogans:

It’s a bit odd that News.mn has chosen a masked photo for Enkhbat, but not for Erdene or Khurelsukh, but that would be a different topic.

All three candidates have included “Mongol,” which may mean the country of Mongolia [Монгол Улс], the nation(ality) of Mongolians [Монгол ард түмэн], and also refer to individual Mongolian persons [Монгол хүн]. This obviously makes it an especially useful campaign term, and it was realized to great effect by Battulga.

MPP

Khurelsukh is using two slogans, #МонголУлсынТөлөөЗүтгэе and #БаялагтааЭзэнМонгол. He is also touting a program called “Шударга Ёс-Хөгжлийн Гэрээ.”

These are all terms that are probably recognizable, if not familiar, to anyone who has considered Mongolian political speech.

While both including Монгол à la Battulga, these are much longer slogans, and include formal and somewhat traditionally-coloured terms, in contrast to Battulga’s use of “winning” (which probably also referenced Trump).

The first is “Let’s strive for Mongolia,” зүтгэх being a verb that is often found in socialist as well as contemporary political speech, having the flavour of collective, but directed action (i.e., by the party or enterprise management).

The second is “Mongolia/Mongolians are the Owners of Their Wealth.” Though баялаг refers specifically to mineral resources, it is related to the abstract term for wealth or value, баян, used in many formal, ceremonial, and ritual contexts (for example, it is an element of many place names). Эзэн is a term for a political-economically effective sovereign that operates across a huge spectrum, and can refer to Chinggis Khaan (often referred to as Эзэн Чингис; “empire” is эзэн гүрэн), the head of a household or herding group (the эзэн of a ger or an ail, including herd animals), and the sovereign entity or force, sometimes represented anthropomorphically or zoomorphically, associated with parts of the landscape, particularly mountains, which must be properly respected by humans also inhabiting and extracting flora, fauna, and minerals from the landscape that “belong to” and are replenished by the эзэн. With this slogan, Khurelsukh is no doubt referencing the MPP-led government’s recent efforts to renegotiate the OT agreement and issue new TT bonds, and also the number of large industrial projects that he has been naming in his program (“The Agreement for Justice and Development”), which include oil production, natural gas pipeline(s), and steel production, and which the MPP has been loudly talking about for some time now.

DP

The DP is using #ДарангуйлалгүйМонгол as its slogan.

In the end, we settled on “Mongolia without Dictatorship” as the best translation, though Anand offered “Mongolia without Oppression” as an alternative.

Etymologically related to дарангуйлал are дарах (“to press,” as in “a button”), and даралт (“pressure,” including referring to air pressure and blood pressure). “Oppression” makes a lot of sense as a translation of “дарангуйлал.” However, “dictatorship” also carries across how дарангуйлал is specifically associated with a particular leader, be it Tsedenbal, or, as seems obvious in this case, Khurelsukh, and also Battulga. And possibly also former MP Altankhuyag, who was put forward by the second wing of the DP (which includes all 13 DP members of Parliament) but refused registration.

Again however, this language is following Battulga who ignited the language of “дарангуйлал” when he issued his ban on the MPP and accused Khurelsukh of “militarism.”

KhUN

Speaking of “igniting,” KhUN has used used novel political language in their slogan #НийгэмдээГэрэлАсаацгаая

Rather than the “state” or “nation,” they invoke “society,” and rather than pushing them to “awake” (сэргэх) and carry out a predetermined path, they use the term for “to kindle, ignite,” which stimulates associations with creativity and innovation.

KhUN has also riffed off of Battulga’s slogan with #МонголЧадна, but without bogging the slogan down with unnecessary syllables or accusatory 1 million tugrug words. Чадах is one of the first words that anyone learning the Mongolian language learns and one that forms a fundamental part of any Mongolian language user’s vocabulary, and means “to be able to.” The slogan nicely carries tones of success and achievement, without the dogwhistling implications of there being enemies or losers, as Battulga’s (and Trump’s) slogan did.

Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Mongolian People's Party, National Labor Party, Politics, Presidential 2021 | Tagged | Leave a comment

Shifts in Voting Behaviour

By Julian Dierkes

Much of election-day exit poll analysis in Germany focuses on “Wählerwanderung”, i.e. voter migration. That requires pretty good and representative data to do, something that has never quite been possible in Mongolia. That secret poll data that political parties always seem to be operating with is also unlikely to really make this kind of analysis possible. So, I speculate on the basis of having watched many Mongolian elections. Here, I want to speculate about party allegiances, possibly adding or collaborating on another post that would look at demographic movements.

I suppose that Mongolian voters have five options:

  • Vote U Khurelsukh, nominated by MPP
  • Vote S Erdene, nominated by “DP”
  • Vote D Enkhbat, nominated by Зөв хүн электорат coalition
  • Cast a blank ballot, i.e. don’t mark any of the candidates
  • Don’t vote

Committed Party Supporters

As in any election, political parties will count on some portion of the electorate who are committed party supporters and will vote for a party nominee regardless of who that is.

But there are actually some complicated questions even around this committed core of party support for this election.

MPP

Here, the picture seems clearest. The MPP has around 220,000 members and there is no obvious reason to think that the vast majority of these members will not be actively supporting Khurelsuhk as the MPP candidate.

Yes, there are factions in the MPP (note for example the relative demise of the City faction that supported 2017 presidential candidate M Enkhbold whose support within the MPP was not enthusiastic four years ago), but it seems like Khurelsukh has been fairly firmly in charge of the party through his terms as prime minister and especially his big win in last year’s parliamentary election. But M Enkhbold is not the only example of less-than-enthusiastic MPP support. The most glaring example (certainly in his own mind) was N Enkhbayar in 2009 who felt so betrayed by the party that he spun off his own party. The MPRP seems to have re-united with the MPP for now, but…

MPRP

In some ways MPRP voters have seemed the most fiercely loyal in the past decade, following N Enkhbayar through his trial, conviction and various combinations of candidates. Now, the MPRP seems to have re-merged into the MPP. Should we expect MPRP stalwarts to follow this merger and vote for Khurelsukh?

My guess is that the vast majority of committed MPRP members (just over 30,000) will vote for Khurelsukh. Somewhat oddly (to me), Enkhbayar does seem to have a very loyal following and this re-merger seems to have his blessings. I suspect that Khurelsukh is also a relatively attractive candidate for many MPRP supporters. With his Khentii connections and power base he seems country-side rooted. He is also portraying himself as a bit of a traditionalist.

And here, the obligatory mounted photo:

The twist? S Ganbaatar as the MPRP’s candidate in 2017 received significantly more than then MPRP’s committed core’s votes, his 30.6% nearly equalling M Enkhbold’s share in the first round in 2017. In 2020, Та бидний эвсэл (Our Coalition that MPRP participated in) won 8% of the national vote. Assuming that this also included some swing voters, the overall potential of committed MPRP voters might thus be on the order of 70,000 or so (5% of the 1,475k voters who participated in the 2020 election).

As an aside, note that the Our Coalition included the Civil Will Green Party, the very party that D Enkhbat represented in the 2008-12 parliament.

So, Ganbaatar massively outperformed and was largely supported by non-committed MPRP voters.

Ganbaatar Voters

What will happen to these Ganbaatar voters? The motivation to support Ganbaatar was probably four-fold: MPRP support, anti-MPP desire to balance political forces, personal support for Ganbaatar, frustration with Enkhbold and Battulga as options. On MPRP support, see above, a small portion of the electorate. On personal support for Ganbaatar, while this seemed to be common among Ulaanbaatar taxi drivers…

I probably never quite understood his appeal, but Ganbaatar has now been a member/figure in all four parties currently in parliament. Not a whole lot of political credibility there. I haven’t noticed that he’s actually endorsed S Erdene as a candidate, but I doubt that there is much loyalty among his erstwhile 2017 voters that would “follow” him to support Erdene.

That desire to counter-balance an MPP-dominated parliament with a president from another party will be one of the main dynamics in this election. To the extent that this also motivated many of Ganbaatar’s voters, these votes will almost certainly not migrate to the MPP but instead have to choose between Erdene and Enkhbat to make themselves heard.

The overall frustration with the lack of choices may be significantly lower this time. Khurelsukh is probably a less unattractive candidate than M Enkhbold was, though Erdene seems no more attractive than Kh Battulga was. On the other hand, Enkhbat does represent a genuine alternative given his nomination by KhUN and his own political trajectory.

DP

The DP has been in a very unhealthy spiral for some years now. The embarrassing spectacle around the control of the party seal is only the most recent manifestation of that unhealthy spiral. Longtime leaders like Lu Bold spinning off in 2020 or strange new recruits like S Ganbaatar joining (see above) are not a sign of personnel renewal, but a lack of focus and identity. And, in the meantime, the party remains dominated by the “golden sparrows” of original democracy activists who were young in 1990, but are no longer young nor fresh in 2021.

There are too many factions in the DP for me to really try to attempt to assign Battulga supporters to Erdene, or not, so my best guess would be to think that a significantly smaller portion of the roughly 150,000 DP members will be DP voters than the portion of MPP voters that will support Khurelsukh.

Yet, the DP remains the main contended and even a relatively unattractive candidate like Battulga managed to parlay that rival-to-the-MPP status into a successful election run in 2017. As unattractive a candidate as Erdene seems, I did underestimate that anyone-but-MPP potential in 2017 and thus assume that Erdene might yet collect a largely portion of that potential. If we think of Ganbaatar + Battulga vote shares in 2017 then that was nearly 70% of voters in the first round in 2017! Disregarding voter demographics and assuming some stable voter behaviour (counter the very thrust of this blog post) that would imply that Khurelsukh would have to win the support of roughly 1/3 of the voters who supported non-Enkhbold choices in 2017. That seems like a tall order, even for a relatively more attractive candidate.

KhUN

The National Labour Party does not really have a stable support base. It garnered just over 200,000 (5%) in the 2020 parliamentary election. Some of those voters may have supported specific KhUN candidates in the parliamentary election, but it seems reasonable to assume that most of them would also support Enkhbat as a candidate given how widespread support for him within KhUN seems to be.

Blank Ballot

What about the “white voters”? In the second round of the 2017 election, 8% of voters who turned out did not mark their ballot presumably registering their protest against the choice between Enkhbold and Battulga. That’s almost 100,000 voters. While some of them might have been within-party opposition to the two candidates, it seems fair to assume that the vast majority of these voters will support Enkhbat in part because their effort in actually casting a blank suggests that they are committed voters and will turn out again. I don’t quite see a rationale for casting a blank ballot in an election where Enkhbat does seem to represent a genuine alternative.

The numbers of white ballots might increase significantly if Khurelsukh and Erdene face off in a second round, a situation that would be similar to 2017 and does not seem impossible. For a second round, all kinds of allegiances would shift around in any case.

Non-Voters

And then there are the 31.5% (first round) and 39.5% (second round) of voters who did not vote in 2017 or the 26.5% who did not vote in 2020. I do not have evidence nor a strong intuition of the percentage of those who are committed non-voters, i.e. those who are very unlikely to vote in this year’s election. Presumably, these are the politically disenchanted or those for whom travel to a polling station is too inconvenient. Perhaps also some of the infirm who do not request a mobile ballot box. For those non-voters who see voting is too much of a burden, it seems unlikely that this year’s election will be different. Will one of the three candidates somehow rouse the disenchanted out of their political passivity to cast a ballot? That does not seem likely for Khurelsukh or Erdene with the possible exception of some regional support. Enkhbat? Well, if his campaign develops some momentum and makes a credible claim at a “different kind of politics”, perhaps. But in the end, it might be easier to persuade some swing voters to support Enkhbat, than to lure non-voters out of their gers.

Conclusions

Any predictions that come out of this consideration of possible voter migration? Well, even though Khurelsukh seems the obvious favourite in this election, I did make myself think about the over 900,000 voters who voted against Enkhbold in the first round in 2017 and how many of those voters Khurelsukh would have to persuade to support him to reach a majority in the first round.

And, Enkhbat has a steep hill to clime with his “start” of only the voters who cast a blank ballot as a likely committed voter base.

Posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Mongolian People's Party, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, National Labor Party, Party Politics, Presidential 2017, Presidential 2021, Protest | Tagged | Leave a comment

Untold Blogpost 7: Create Your Own Future

By Mendee Jargalsaikhan

Our guest Sambuudanzan Ganzorig lives in Arkhangai Aimag, approximately 430 kilometers away from the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. He is the President of the Federation of Associations of People with Disabilities in Arkhangai Aimag. Sambuudanzan is also a renowned athlete with two gold medals from the Para Athletics Grand Prix in 2013 (Beijing, PRC), a silver medal from the Asia-Oceania Championship 2016 (Dubai, UAE) and a national record holder for shot-put and discus throw in national parasports championships. Moreover, he coaches Arkhangai’s weight and powerlifters while running a fitness club.

 

Competing in para sport events, he is well-travelled and inspired many to exercise and compete in national paralympics and the Paralympic Games. Today it is not a surprise for the Mongolian weightlifting community to see athletes from Arkhangai Aimag coached by a person in a wheelchair. Sambuudanzan agreed to share his insights on people with disabilities, on running non-governmental organizations, and, of course, on sports in the countryside.

Photo: Sambuudanzan winning a medal from Para Games (with the permission of Sambuudanzan)

People with Disability in the Countryside

‘Getting information is not a problem in the countryside, especially in the aimag center,’ said Sambuudanzan, ‘but the infrastructure accessibility is a major challenge.’ People who live in the aimag center have more opportunities than those who live in the soum centers or in the countryside. At the aimag center, people with disabilities can go to the local administration, stores, services, and obtain needed information. In contrast, those in remote areas lack these types of opportunities. For them, it is even difficult to come to a regular social benefit qualifying meeting in the aimag center. It is a requirement for people with disabilities to meet with experts in order to qualify or to continue receiving their benefits on a regular basis. Because of remoteness and lack of information, people with disabilities do not know their rights, or even do not have control over their welfare benefits. Sambuudanzan stressed the importance of the education of people with disabilities for understanding their basic rights to protect their rights. However, in the countryside, parents usually decide not to send their disabled child to school. Schools in aimag and soum centers do not have accessible roads, washrooms and/or lifts for disabled children. To have their children enrolled in the school, one of the parents, or both, has to accompany their child to the aimag or soum center. But many choose to send their healthy child to school and tend their cattle with their disabled child in the countryside. This prevents the disabled person to get an education and to reach self-empowerment. Self-empowerment is the most important aspect for people with disabilities to protect their rights and change their attitudes, as our guest repeated throughout the podcast.

Employment in Aimag versus Soum

Disabled people encounter similar challenges: those who live in aimag centers have more opportunities to get employed if their degree of disabilities is lower or lighter. There are some opportunities for disabled people to be included in projects or to do government contracting jobs. However, at the soum level, there are fewer employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Many simply help their herding families since they have no other choices.

To provide employment opportunities, the government provides financial assistance for disabled people to make handcrafts and gifts. According to Sambuudanzan, this is not working in all local contexts. The gift-making is seasonal and different in regions and aimags depending on the development of the tourism industry. Instead, the government could support businesses with potential markets. For example, in a soum center, a person who repairs cellphones could serve for 40-50 households. Or another example could be a photo studio for passport and ID photos. These are jobs could be done easily by disabled people.

Then, we talked about the new amendment of the Law on Labour. The new amendment requires any business entity with 25 employees or more to hire one disabled employee, or, to pay the penalty to contribute to the employment fund for disabled people. This would not be applicable here, as Sambuudanzan explained, because there are very few businesses with more than 25 employees in the aimag center. All businesses in soum centers are much smaller. At the same time, the enforcement of this law is weak. There is a no clear mechanism for non-governmental organizations to monitor the fund. Echoing with our earlier guests, Sambuudanzan emphasized the creation of modified employment positions requiring less assistance from others for disabled people to work.

Non-Governmental Organizations in the Countryside

In 2012, all individual disability associations in Arkhangai aimag agreed to unite under the umbrella organization, Federation of Associations of People with Disabilities, to deal with the provincial government effectively and to unify their efforts to reach out to the society. The president of the federation would be elected for a three-year term. This unification made non-governmental organizations stronger than before, especially in dealing with the Governor and Citizens’ Representatives’ Khural, a local council. As Sambuudanzan explains, now the federation is working to develop a five-year strategy and action plan.

This idea of a federation was initially supported by the Finnish Lutheran Overseas Mission (FLOM) – a non-governmental humanitarian organization. To give information about the background here, the FLOM has been operating in Mongolia since early 1990s and supports the local, grass-root, humanitarian non-governmental organizations with the Finnish government funds. Now the Federation will work with ‘Tegsh Tusgal’, a local non-governmental organization that was founded in May 2019. Interestingly, Sambuudanzan stresses that his federation and member associations are now in charge of the agenda-setting for the next four years. The Tegsh Tusgal would provide only technical and financial assistance for the federation to carry out their plans. 

Photo: Sambuudanzan in Arkhangai aimag (with the permission of Sambuudanzan)

Although opportunities are limited, Sambuudanzan sounded positive about the changing attitudes of the provincial administration. Instead of organizing ad-hoc demonstrations or protests, our guest emphasized that he is being part of the policy-making process starting from a bag (the lowest administrative unit in a soum) to soum and to aimag authority. In that way, the policies toward people with disabilities have a long-term effect.

Unlike non-governmental organizations in Ulaanbaatar, where almost all funding agencies operate and accessibility to networks with experts is a given, non-governmental organizations in the countryside lack the capacity and resources. They are all volunteer-based and just following their inspirations and passions.

Photo: Sambuudanzan with his young athlete students (with the permission of Sambuudanzan)

Para-Olympic

After a tragic accident in 2002, he went through physiotherapy to be able to walk with a cane. As he walked through the aimag center, he felt people looking at him with pity and care. He did not seize to work hard – making huushuur (traditional food), driving trucks, and even carrying out handicraft project. One day, he heard about the National Paralympic Championship in Ulaanbaatar and convinced three other colleagues to participate in that championship. At that competition, he felt that he could compete in shot-put and discus throw. After setting up a team and preparing throughout 2009, a team of 12 athletes from Arkhangai province won the national Para-Athletic Championship of the following year. Since then, he participated in many competitions, including the Asian Para Games in Guangzhou. And he even won three medals in shot-put, discus throw, and javelin when competing in Japan; thus, he was inspired to train more intensively. Then, he began training young athletes for the national competitions of powerlifting and also weightlifting. Now during his free time, he coaches and provides opportunities for those who want to get into shape and bodybuilding at his fitness club. He proudly said that people now do not see him as a disabled person, but rather seek sporting advice from him, or see him as a role model for young athletes.

Covid-19 Impacts

Sharing similar insights about the severe impacts of Covid-19 on people with disabilities, Sambuudanzan described the difficulties for those who need regular medical check-ups and treatment. Two outstanding issues were also the loss or significant reduction of the household income and the increased domestic violence.

Photo: Sambuudanzan winning a medal from 2015 National Open Athletics Championships for Persons with Disabilities (with the permission of Sambuudanzan)

Listening to his candid and insightful conversation, we felt his courage, perseverance, and passion. He did recall the moment when people disparaged him pointing out that he had only fourth grade education as he was elected to become the president of the federation. But he did not give up. He continued his education and even received an MA in sports coaching. Despite many difficult periods, he stayed on course and followed the example of his dad and dedicated himself to his goal. He proudly said – that he has never been ashamed of who he is and lives happily today. His motto for people with disability: create your own fate and life because no one else will do it for you. At the end, our guest shared his two dreams: (1) to prepare leaders who work at the policy level for the federation in the next four years and (2) to see champions arising from his young athletes.

The Untold podcast and blog post are made available by the generous support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Mongolia. We also want to thank our editor Riya Tikku.

Posted in Civil Society, Countryside, Health, Mendee Jargalsaikhan, Olympics, People with Disabilities, Sports | Tagged | Leave a comment

EIAS Talk: Political Transformations, Upcoming Presidential Election

I recently discussed Mongolia’s political trajectory toward the June 9 presidential election with Lin Goethals and Allesandra Tamponi at the European Institute for Asian Studies.

Posted in Democracy, Elections, International Relations, Party Politics, Politics, Presidential 2021, Video | Leave a comment

Untold Blogpost 6: Do Not Stop at ‘CANNOT’, Focus on the ‘HOW’

By Mendee Jargalsaikhan

Before the pandemic, Ms. Kimiko used to travel to the ger district in a crowded bus to teach her students – who were all not in one place like kindergarten or school, but they waited for a kind-hearted Japanese teacher at their home. She doesn’t mind walking through impassible summer mud and the icy, slippery winter streets, nor the choking smog of burning coals and woods in the ger district. All she cares about is how to teach her students with disabilities and how to change the attitudes of their parents. Ms. Takahashi Kimiko came to Mongolia in 1998 for a two-year volunteer assignment as a kindergarten teacher and lived in the third largest city – Darkhan. Her passion of working with children brought her back to Mongolia in 2004 to work at a private kindergarten. In 2011, she established her own non-governmental organization to help children with disabilities. It was another touching podcast throughout which we felt her love for children and the unbending commitment to her dream of helping children with disabilities.

She Has Never Chosen Whom She Would Teach

The most challenging aspect of working in the development sector in Mongolia is to cope with excessive financial paperwork – she sighed – as she works alone. Otherwise, she likes to work in Mongolia. Even though there has been progress in increasing educational opportunities for children with disabilities, she pointed out there were a number of challenges. Teachers are not prepared to work with children with disabilities since they are already overwhelmed with 20-30 students per kindergarten classroom. There are private kindergartens, but it is not available for all disabled children. So, Kimiko san ventured out to help those who cannot go to kindergartens and schools – and she helps only those parents who allowed her to teach their children. In other words, she has never chosen whom she would teach depending on the location or level of disability. She insisted that she would never build or establish a kindergarten, or day care centre, because that is the job the Mongolian government should do. Therefore, she does not want to build a kindergarten or day care centre. She wants to work with a child when the parents are around. It seems to me that her key principle is to focus on the ‘can do’ and being creative about getting a child interested in learning, repeating, and experiencing with joy.

Just prior to the pandemic, she had 17 students – who live widely distributed in the city of 1.5 million population. In one day, she teaches three children, spending about an hour with each child. She said one hour is exactly enough and she does all her best to use that hour effectively. In winter days, she gets out of the ger district around 4 pm before it gets dark and prepares her lessons for the next day. In her teaching, she uses the same book for all children, for example, a well-known story of The Gigantic Turnip, but her teaching method would be different: there would be drawing or colouring activities for a child with Down syndrome, memorizing or speaking exercises for a child with intellectual disability, and concentration activities for an autistic child. And she proudly highlights that this is a mutual learning process for a child, the parents, and herself.

Photo: The books Kimiko san published (with the permission of Takahashi Kimiko)

How to Teach Children with Disabilities

Treat a child like an adult, not always in ‘evii evii’ style (Mongolian words often used to spoil little children). The most important task is to build trust. If someone is always critical or does not pay attention, a child knows and will not have a mindset for open communication and collaborative learning. Also, one must be interested – as in her words, if the mind moves, the body will follow. So, one must be creative when in comes to getting the child’s interested and triggering their curiosity. Throughout the podcast, she advises anyone who is working with a child with disabilities not to stop at ‘chadahgui’ (cannot do). If you do focus on ‘chadahgui’, you’ll end up with ‘odoo yanaa’ (a Mongolian phrase used to express in fear or uncertainty), and you cannot think about the future. Rather, you should carefully assess what your child can do and cannot do. Again, you need to be creative about getting your child interested. In this way, you can imagine a realistic future with your child, and help your child continue doing things that they are able to do or are interested in doing. Even if your child does not know the ABC (alphabet), there will always be something that he/she can do. Here, Kimiko san shared one of her projects. The project is named ‘goyo ireedui’ (nice future) – which helped parents with disabled children to think about the future together. This strikes us an important exercise for all of us to do together with our children – pondering together to construct our imagined future of the children, us, and the community – instead of acting as if we knew what is best for them. As Kimiko hinted, parents should help children to see different opportunities rather than imposing their options on them.

Photo: Kimiko san providing workshop (with the permission of Takahashi Kimiko)

Many Mongolian parents asked her why their kids do not speak and how to improve their speaking. So, in response, Kimiko san published a book with speech improvement exercises and teaching methods for Mongolian parents. We felt this book is a valuable book since it is based on her personal experience of learning the Mongolian language in her thirties and having worked with children over two decades.

Differences Between Japan and Mongolia

‘Zam’ (road, sidewalk in Mongolian) is a key difference between Japan and Mongolia. It is difficult not only for disabled people, but for everyone. Kimiko san shared her astonishment over the great balancing skills of Mongolians – on these uneven, often slippery (during the winter) roads and sidewalks. For all of us, it is hard to imagine how parents are struggling to navigate on these uneven, poorly maintained, slippery sidewalks with their disabled children. Otherwise, she thinks, there is no major difference between Japanese and Mongolian parents with disabled children. They share the same feelings and experience similar challenges. They are worried about the future of their children-though conditions and opportunities might be different.

This takes us back to the Mongolian situation. Parents who live in the soum (an administrative subdivision within the province) probably have limited access to a computer/internet and to experts whereas parents who live in the city may have more opportunities. Yes, indeed, one of our previous guests talked about the challenges for disabled people living in the ger district. Although they are in vicinity of the city, they experience similar challenges as those who live in the countryside. Regardless of their location or country, parents with disabled children face similar challenges and are wary of the future.

Photo: The books Kimiko san published (with the permission of Takahashi Kimiko)

Advice for Us – Mongolians

‘In Mongolia, people are very helpful and always ready to help. This is unique.’ Besides this praise, she wanted to share her critical view of us. People talk about many good ideas and demonstrate their eagerness to do something about these ideas. But soon, they stop answering their phones and disappear. It is as if when they talk, they look up the sky and imagine all good things, but they do not look down to their feet – or think critically about the implementation. So, it is important for anyone who wants to pursue their good ideas to have a detailed plan – with first, second, and third steps. If it does not work, take a little break, and then try to figure out the causes and find ways to move ahead. If you do, Kimiko san assures, the gradual improvement and success will follow.

As one thinks about continuous small improvement, things would already be improving. Here she pointed to one example. She liked a café – that employs adolescents with Down syndrome. To make things easier for customers and employees, the café could use a little check-box menu – on which customers can write their names and mark their orders. This would prevent any embarrassing situation between the customer and the employees with Down syndrome. It will increase the confidence of these young people who are eager to work.

This was another pleasant podcast – listening to a courageous, determined Japanese teacher, who is fluent in Mongolian and an expert of local bus routes. And she has a big heart, passion, and a dream of helping to change the attitudes of parents with disabled children. I felt her weeping inside – when she talked about how parents have changed as she showed how to work with their children with disabilities.

The Untold podcast and blog post are made available by the generous support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Mongolia. We also want to thank our editor Riya Tikku.

Posted in Education, Health, Human Rights, Japan, Mendee Jargalsaikhan, People with Disabilities, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Who is KhUN presidential candidate D. Enkhbat?

By Marissa J. Smith

With one party member in Parliament, the KhUN party has the right to register a candidate for the presidential elections on June 9, 2021. They announced on May 12 that D. Enkhbat would be the candidate.

On April 30, #Уухай! Clubhouse ran a conversation on Clubhouse and Facebook Live with Enkhbat, which was also transcribed and posted on Ikon.mn. Julian, Bulgan, and I collectively decided that it was a substantial conversation and merited an English-language summary for our readers.

This post describes and situates some of the questions and concerns brought by participants, as well as Enkhbat’s replies and comments. According to the Ikon transcript, the session lasted for four hours, and it appears that some questions were asked by prominent politicians from KhUN and the DP(s) (and formerly from the DP(s)), including Munkhsoyol and Oyungerel. Overall, the conversation reflected major concerns about Mongolian politics leading up to the Presidential elections articulated recently on the blog, particularly the concentration of power in the hands of a president, a single party, and/or the parliament.


During the session, Enkhbat touched repeatedly on the need for Mongolia to diversify its economy beyond mining, touting internet-based education. This is not surprising, given Enkhbat’s position as former CEO and founder of Datacom, which oversees the country code top-level domain “.mn,” and which operates with a commercial license according to Wikipedia. He was also asked about his part in translating Khan Academy  into Mongolian (which he said is intended to spur Mongolian-specific content creation by Mongolian educators) and his business development project, Karakorum Digital Academy.

Less well known may be Enkhbat’s past as a politician. He was, according to Alan Sanders’ Historical Dictionary of Mongolia (2017) the single MP from the Citizen’s Alliance (which included the Green Party, prior to it and Enkhbat’s union with S. Oyun’s Civil Will Party in 2011) in the 2008-2012 Ikh Khural and according to his LinkedIn profile, a “co-chair” of the Green Party from 2007-2011. One participant was quick to establish Enkhbat’s past with the audience, reminding it of Enkhbat’s “going to the meeting” while “other leaders watched TV at home” during the tumultuous post-election events of July 1, 2008. The interviewers in general did not hesitate to dive into his past, and also asked Enkhbat specific questions about his views on the future shape of Mongolia’s government, detailed below.

Institutions and Civic Participation

Enkhbat spoke about institutions and civic participation without prompting, and also responded to questions asking why he “left politics” by saying he had not left, but participated in organizations such as the [Open Society] Forum.

A few relevant quotes:

business and education issues, especially teacher initiatives and ethnic identity, are not just political issues. We are once again pushing all these issues to the other party and government. I don’t think the party system is wrong. But what is the main problem of the party system? The problem is that we have only a party system. Mongolia has made state political democracy. We have parties, a parliament and free elections. However, they did not establish any real or other social institutions. Professional associations, youth organizations, and various interest groups, especially civil society, are not institutionalized and organized. That’s why we bring thousands of Mongolian issues to the other party and politics. There, the party has become a channel for decision-making without competition, so it is rotten and bankrupt.”

“You can support a political party, make a political career and help yourself without becoming a boss. After that, social integration can be involved in many other things. Not necessarily a political party. You can participate in various non-governmental organizations, cooperative work and movements. That’s why I’m not asking young people to be leaders, but be involved and make decisions about their lives. Get involved in politics. Maybe you’ll like it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it or not.

Democracy works when everyone participates. Democracy will not be made by 76 members [of Parliament] and one genius President. Probably because people think that political parties are more developed today, people are active in it. So go into politics for three or four years. Just participate in the election and work as a supporter. Then tell me the answer in four years. If not, then stop. If you are interested, go ahead. In other words, this is the working environment of democracy. Now watching TV and waiting for democracy will not work. Therefore, young people must participate in some way.”

Presidential vs. Parliamentary and/or Party Dominance

Enkhbat was asked repeatedly about his views on the power of the presidency, and the condition of political parties. Notably, he did not argue strongly that either a presidential system or parliamentary system was better or more suitable for Mongolia (though stating why he would favor parliamentarism), but rather that the issue was to make the system in question function. He stated repeatedly that the president should be a “unifying” force involved in Mongolia’s position on the world stage, the Parliament should be strong, and that parties should be professional, but democratic and open. Interestingly, he did not have much to say specifically in support of campaign finance measures that have been touted by other KhUN members, though at least one question provided a clear opening (“What should we do to eliminate the ‘moneyed’ election?”).

the world is full of bankrupt countries with a presidential system, and the world is full of bankrupt countries with a parliamentary system. The question is not whether we have fully implemented or established it, but rather the form of governance. Parliamentary governance is not bad, but we have underperformed with our party system. Nor have they established civil society or social institutions in general. Any car that is incomplete is bad. There are no three-wheeled buses or trucks. Instead, parliamentary governance is appropriate for Mongolia. If it were possible to start from scratch, I would choose parliamentary government. Mongolia is a small country. There are many risks involved in centralizing power over national independence. We cannot have such a fragile state. Therefore, there must be a proper system and a comprehensive parliament.”

“We need to support our parliamentary system. Maybe if we had chosen a presidential system 30 years ago, we should have improved it. Now that the parliamentary system has been chosen, it needs to be improved. I don’t believe that children who do poorly will learn better when they start a new notebook. I don’t think we need to oscillate back and forth. Because to start all over again, especially for such irresponsible countries as ours, will only deepen the crisis.”

“[Q.] If you become president, will you be able to curb this monopoly power of the president?

D.Enkhbat: […] the position of the president and the leader must be based on principles. We need to further strengthen our parliamentary system. Uncertainties must be eliminated. Reducing the current power of the president is not the goal in itself. The goal is for the Mongolian parliamentary system to function properly. If indeed the power of the President must be curtailed in order for the Mongolian parliamentary system to function properly, this must be the case.”

“political parties have not changed at all in 30 years. That is why the parties are holding back society. This is followed by problems with the political party system, especially internal party democracy. We must protect the interests of party members by law. Following the electoral system, personnel policy was lost. There is no merit-type human resource system. The main source of the current governance crisis in Mongolia is the political party system. That is why we need to move towards a healthy election and political party system. In addition, the unity of the Mongolian state has been lost. It is re-elected. In other words, we have a four-year lease of power to those who donate money to the state through the rent system. It is disintegrating the state. Therefore, governance issues need to be addressed by making the public personnel system agile and professional.”

“For a political party to remain healthy, the participation of its members must be guaranteed by law. Parties are not private companies. The right to enter, leave and leave a social institution called a party must be open. Therefore, the most important factor in the transformation of a political party is the personnel system. A party member needs to build a pyramid that follows the party’s values ​​and ideology and continues to move forward. In other words, let’s get rid of the word party. This is a labor-power system. The basis of human resources to lead the country.”

“[Q.] If you become President, can you be independent of the party you are nominated by?

Don’t be friends without principles. If you can agree on the principles on both sides, you can work very closely. In other words, if the values ​​and principles are the same, you can work with any party on certain laws and certain issues. So I don’t like to talk about someone being loyal or close to KhUN, MPP or DP. But if the rules, principles, and work of the game are the same, it doesn’t matter which party you belong to. Therefore, on the one hand, the president nominated by the KhUN party must stay away from the political party in accordance with the laws and constitutional principles of Mongolia. On the other hand, if you have the same values ​​as your political party, you have to work as closely together. That’s the principle.”

International Relations

On Russia and China:

“We will never be separate from Russia and China. But [Mongolians] don’t study, don’t know, don’t understand what they [Russia and China] want. They are talking about a business project to make only one deal. The problem is not in the business project. Strategically, we need to understand how to live together in one region.”

South Korea and Japan (but especially South Korea) were mentioned several times as exemplars of development in tune with national specificities.

[Q]: What exactly are the spiritual values ​​and unity of Mongolians? How do you see Mongol studies?

I am very surprised at one thing when I go to Japan. At first glance, everything is Japan, [and also] at first glance, a 21st century modern country, technology. So there is a combination. In the same way, Mongolian identity, the ability to differentiate, or the ability to unite us, is to some extent inevitable in our history and culture. We just need to study how to shape it in the 21st century. We have to study Japan and Korea, we can’t guess. This must be constantly debated and tested. Even the Koreans realized that they were wrong only by trying. We need to prepare the ship and the car to go there now. And you have to be steadfast.

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Untold Blogpost 5: “3D Printing Makes Prosthetics Easier and Brings it Closer”

By Mendee Jargalsaikhan

Our guest is a young engineer, Mandakhnaran, who makes 3D-printed arms for children. It strikes us that there are very few people who know about the 3D-printable prosthetic devices in town.

Mandakhnaran graduated from the New Mongol Institute of Technology and now he works as a mechanical engineer. In 2019, he was inspired to create an arm for a child using the 3D printing technology. This led him to study more about 3D-printed prosthetics – the technology, materials, and international practices. Mandakhnaran made his first 3D-printed arm for a little boy – which the young engineer created himself and, of course, the boy and his parents were happy. We are grateful to Mandakhnaran for taking time off from his busy schedule to explain the basics of 3D prosthetics.

Photo: Working on the hand design (with the permission of Mandakhnaran)

The 3D Prosthetics

To print an arm prosthesis, you would need a digitally simulated model, a 3D printer, and ABS filament or thermoplastic. There are three types of filament: CPE – expensive, high-quality, ABS – moderately priced, commonly used, and PLA – the cheapest, less durable. After taking the measures for an arm or leg to be attached, you use the computer graphics to design the model (known as 3D modelling). It would take a day or two, and then the actual printing could be done in two days. Since it is made of plastic, any type of cleaning product can be used. Depending on the type of plastic (CPE, ABS, or PLA), it would last over at least six months. And you can replace or fix any broken parts anytime.

Photo: Designing the arm (with the permission of Mandakhnaran)

Comparison with Other Available Options

There are two options for people needing artificial limbs. One is the prostheses factories. They use the traditional methods and materials. It would cost around 1,000 – 1,400 USD. They are sturdy, meaning they are heavy and expensive to replace or repair. The other option is ordering the pre-produced resin prostheses from China. It would cost 160 USD. One needs to order and wait for at least two weeks for the delivery. Once ordered, changes cannot be made to the order. Because of its material, it is smelly and produced in only few colours. Mongolian prostheses factories find it difficult to manufacture prostheses for children because they grow fast, and their materials are quite heavy for children. Therefore, it would be costly for parents to change their prosthesis as they grow.

3D Prosthetics Better Choice

Mandakhnaran argues that there are three advantages with the 3D-printed arms. For one, it is reasonably priced, since its cost varies from 50 to 300 USD depending on the type of materials. Second, it will take 3-5 days and it could be partly repaired immediately. Third, you have options. He recalls one of his clients, a boy who got an ugly coloured arm prosthesis from China. So, he was ashamed of the appearance and smell of his prosthetic arm. This brought him down and he lost confidence. When Mandakhnaran was working with him to select the design and colour of his new arm, the boy said that he wanted a robot arm. With this new arm, his spirit was uplifted, and he is now happy to show his arm to his classmates. So, with the 3D-printed arm, you can select the design of your arm. When Mandakhnaran mentioned that we can attach more gadgets to it, the movie ‘Inspector Gadget’ came to my mind.

It was touching to hear that one boy drew a big “A” letter with his new arm – that made him, his parents, and Mandakhnaran so happy. Although that boy cannot draw a perfect little “A”, he apparently inspired Mandakhnaran – who now thinks about adding more gadgets. Several times, Mandakhnaran pointed out that he is ready to make 3D-printable prosthetic devices for anyone who needed. It seemed to me, this young engineer needs a challenge to push him to make discoveries. He participated in a start-up competition with his innovation. Even though the judges agreed on the 3D-printed arm being interesting, they all concluded that it is less profitable. Against this mindset, Mandakhnaran is determined to help children and people who need prosthetic devices.

Photo: 3D arm (with the permission of Mandakhnaran)

Positive Takeaways from His Japanese Experience

We need to talk to people with disabilities and they are nice people, Mandakhnaran highlighted. He studied in Japan for his fifth and sixth grade. In his class, there was a student who lost both his arms and legs. Soon, he realized there were children with disabilities also included in other classes. Since these students studied together with the disabled student from grade one, they all knew each other very well and treated each other with respect. Like all earlier guests, Mandakhnaran explains the importance of an inclusive education environment for all.

Impact of Covid-19

Our pandemic related question gave another opportunity for our guest to highlight advantage of the 3D printing technology. If parents could take the exact measures, they would not need to come by in order to get the artificial limb. All could be done and delivered in distance during the pandemic. If someone requires getting a part of the 3D-printed arm, it could be done without seeing each other.

If the government or private businesses supported Mandakhnaran, he would help more children – uplifting their spirit. He did not hide the fact that he spent ten days to make his first 3D-printed arm because it was all new for him. Moreover, he was using the institute’s only 3D printer, which was quite outdated. But a long-awaited Iron Man arm made his client happy and, for sure, we know he was showing off his Iron Man hand to his friends. When Sainbuyan and I were debating whether to invite Mandakhnaran as our guest, a good, old friend doctor of mine said – ‘It is a miracle, if someone makes a 3D-printed arm in Mongolia’ and explained the challenges of people with amputations of extremities. We do not know at the moment, but wholeheartedly believe that we need to support this young Mongolian mechanical engineer’s passion and dream of helping people with disabilities.

Photo: He also made a Mongolian Ironman with 3D printing (with the permission of Mandakhnaran)

The Untold podcast and blog post are made available by the generous support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Mongolia. We also want to thank our editor Riya Tikku.

Posted in Education, People with Disabilities, Podcast, Younger Mongolians | Tagged | Leave a comment

Guest Post: An Election with Handpicked Candidates?

By Max Duckstein

On May 6, the election commission confirmed the receipt of the third and last candidate for the upcoming presidential elections: S Erdene. In the hours before, the deputies of his own party urged the commission not to accept his documents, resorting even to starting a hunger strike on Ulaanbaatar’s central Sukhbataar Square. The now culminating conflict is already swelling for months and not only threatens Mongolia’s biggest opposition party but also the credibility of its election system.

Reforms in the Democratic Party

After losing the parliamentary elections in June, the then-chairman of the Democratic Party Erdene had to resign according to the party’s statutes. His deputy and former General Secretary Ts Tuvaan agreed to lead the party until a new chairman would be elected. Together with a group of upcoming young politicians like P Nurzed, they managed to lead the party to relative success in the local elections shortly afterward. As a next step, the provisional leadership planned to fundamentally revise the party statutes. The new statutes were to be adopted at a party congress and new leadership elected at the same time. However, plans for a party congress were halted as a result of the first-time local outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in mid-November 2020 and the subsequent lockdown.

Since the old party constitution requires internal elections after the resignation of the chairman, the new leadership around Tuvaan came under increasing pressure to pass its planned party reform. On December 7, they finally managed to pass the reforms digitally. Around that time Erdene started to appear more often in public again, criticizing the new leadership and the sitting president for his supposed influence on the party. It is believed that Erdene holds a longstanding grudge against Pres Kh Battulga, blaming him for the lost parliamentary elections and his subsequent downfall. His sudden resurgence after months of silence surprised many inside the DP nonetheless, after he had initially vowed to not interfere with the rebuilding of the party after the election defeat. Soon thereafter Erdene made public statements that a DP under his leadership would not nominate president Battulga again, raising suspicions that this was the reason behind his comeback. Mongolian election law states that each party represented in parliament is allowed to nominate only one candidate for the presidential elections. A candidate not nominated by a party with at least one seat in parliament is barred from registering.

A conveniently daring exploit

On December 25, 2020, the former party chairman pulled off a coup that has not been fully illuminated to this day: He convinced the Mongolian registration authority to issue a new stamp for the DP to him. With the stamp comes the ability to sign documents for the party and represent it legally. Why the central registration authority provided him with a new stamp and subsequently revoked the one that was held by Tuvaan remains to be explained till today. While more cautious observers guessed that he pretended the old stamp was lost, some saw this as a starting point for a plot to split the country’s largest opposition party before the upcoming presidential elections. Although it is hard to explain how Erdene could have pretended to lose a stamp he officially handed over to Tuvaan months ago.

Besides carrying the official stamp, the registration of new leadership and new statues at the Supreme Court are required under the Mongolian party law. To the surprise of the new leadership, the court rejected the registration on January 14. They argued that the COVID-induced digital format of the party congress was not explicitly envisaged under the old party statutes. Now possessing the newly registered party stamp, Erdene petitioned the court to be registered as chairman again. However, the Supreme Court denied this as well, since the old party statutes required the chairman to step down after losing national elections. The court’s decisions left the party in limbo unable to move forward in any direction. In the meantime, both stamps are regarded as not legitimate by the courts. Solving this dispute with judicial means will take months. To overcome at least some of the uncertainty, both camps announced internal elections on March 28, calling more than 200,000 members to vote. While the DP around Tuvaan called on members to fill out ballots by hand in their home provinces, Erdene now tried his hand at conducting a digital membership vote resulting in the election of the only locally known 42-old M Tulgat. To prevent another legal setback, the DP led by Tuvaan held an additional in-person party congress on April 3: In eastern Ulaanbaatar, 1,200 delegates gathered in an open-air parking lot to confirm the election of their new party head Ts Tsogtgerel, a newly elected member of parliament from Uvs.

Reaching a dead-end

Following the old party statutes, both Erdene and the DP had to elect a candidate for the presidential elections on June 9. The sitting president Battulga did not appear on the election ballots since the Supreme Court controversially ruled him out for a second term on April 16. Finally, on May 1 Tuvan announced that N Altankhuyag won the internal competition. A former DP prime minister and the only current member of parliament that was elected as an independent, campaigning for an equal and fair distribution of Mongolia’s natural resources. Simultaneously, Erdene was announced as the surprise winner of his own elections, resulting in the other candidates, all members of parliament, and nearly all local DP chapters distancing themselves from him.

While the ongoing legal disputes over legitimacy did not lead to any substantial problems until this point, the closing deadline for the parties to submit their candidates to the central election commission lead to a change. The head of the commission, a close friend of the MPP’s presidential candidate U Khurelsukh, was appointed by the MPP government. Following Mongolian law, the election commission required the DP to submit only one candidate until 6 pm on May 5. Although they extended their deadline until midnight, neither Altankhuyag nor Erdene withdrew their documents. Ultimately, the commission decided to only accept Erdene’s documents. They claimed that the last legally undisputed change in leadership in the DP was the 2017 election of Erdene, leaving parliamentarians in disbelief. Five of them started a hunger strike on the central Sukhbaatar Square the same night that still lasts on May 6 protesting the decision. The police stopped their supporters from handing them blankets to protect them during the night and some journalists were barred from entering the square.

An election campaign with convenient opponents

While it is easy to dismiss all of this as internal problems of the notoriously quarrelling DP, it poses more serious questions regarding the vulnerability of the Mongolian electoral process. Keeping in mind that the initial re-issuance of a stamp to Erdene by the central registration authority seems to have been illegitimate, there was no way for the DP to avoid this situation. Submitting the country’s largest opposition party to endless court battles following a seemingly faulty decision by the central registration authority that ends in not registering their elected candidate for the formally highest position in the state has uncomfortable connotations.

After the Mongolian Revolutionary People’s Party recently merged with the governing Mongolian People’s Party, allegedly in exchange for three ministries, there are only two opposition parties left in Mongolia’s parliament that could nominate a presidential candidate. The Democratic Party’s ability to do so was now crippled twice after the recent events and barring the popular sitting president Battulga from standing as a candidate. If the Khun party’s candidate D Enkhbat will succeed to gather the anti-MPP vote remains at least questionable after the recent conflicts between the DP and the Khun party.

Mistakes can happen in any bureaucracy. In Mongolia, Khurelsukh seems always to profit politically from them though. This seems especially convenient now as his own image is damaged in public opinion. Following his resignation as prime minister using a minor protest as an excuse, many distrust his ability to lead the country through difficult times. Restricting the major opposition party of the country twice in the attempt to choose a presidential candidate and forcing a weakened and ostracized candidate on them seems more than timely. Khurelsukh will certainly enjoy an unusually easy campaign start this month.

About Max Duckstein

Max Duckstein is Senior Policy Analyst at the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation’s office in Mongolia. He obtained his Master’s degree (M.A.) in Sociology at Bielefeld University. As a scholarship holder of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) he spent a semester in Russia as visiting researcher at Saint Petersburg State University.

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