The office of the President of Mongolia, Public Relations & Communications Division

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2009-10-01




Better for the Nation Make One Step Forward Than for the Leader Gallop Alone



Speech by Tsakhia Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia, at the Opening of the Fall Session of the State Ikh Hural




Mr. Chairman and the distinguished members of the State Great Khural,
Distinguished Members,
Mr. Prime Minister and Members of the Covernment,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

This session of the State Great Khural is special as it coincides with the second decade of the new choice made by the Mongolian people. During this historic period, Mongolians remained faithful and committed to their new choice. No doubt, Mongolians will further remain the true owners of their homeland, fates and liberties, withstanding and overcoming myriad tests and challenges of time.

Over the past days, the countries of the world focused their attention on the issues and challenges facing the humankind. Of these issues, global climate change has been at the center of global deliberations. Mongolia has been an active participant of the discussions.

The world’s leaders have been able to attain identical stance on the most debated issue over which viewpoints and positions were divided. Almost everyone agrees that the world climate has undergone a change. It is not the time to dispute over a phenomenon now. We need action, we need solution. Generally speaking, the situation is getting out of control. Yet, if drastic and resolute measures are taken, there is a hope to better the situation, say scholars and experts, as well as doves and hawks, representatives of political division. This common global phenomenon evolves as an uneasy challenge threatening the very existence of the nature.

We know well the situation we are in Mongolia. Most part of our lands are threatened by desertification. Over the past 10 years, about 30% of our rivers, springs and wetland dried up. And it’s not a secret that Mongolia is warming up faster and more intensely than the world average. “Extreme climatic changes are becoming more frequent with ever aggravating damages and consequences. Inescapably, your country is one of those to be most severely hit by this” – reminds the Nobel Prize Laureate Gore. And indeed, this past summer, we saw unprecedented rainfall in some areas and a snow storms in the midst of autumn just a few days ago.

These climatic changes were caused by human behavior. Since they were caused by humans, the situation can be rectified by human action as well. Let’s make today the point of departure to actions and response. As a simple example, in order to avoid bitter reproach of our future generations that we should have warned them of the dangers, I spoke to the schoolchildren on the climate change on the first day of school this year. Now I officially appeal to the highest decision making authorities in the country that we just can’t afford not to accord attention to climate change.

There are ways and possibilities to rectify the situation. We need to unify our positions, make the decisions and persistently implement those decisions. The developed countries, blamed as the main causes of global warming, and the poorer countries, the victims of global warming, as well as the countries and regions on a fast and ascending trend of growth and development are all agreeing to convene in Copenhagen by the end of November this year to take decisive measures in this regard.

Clearly, for Mongolia’s climate change response, the situation cannot be changed if we, regardless how old we are, how rich or poor we are, what jobs we have, do not change any daily routine practices and behavior. As the President of the country I will work actively in the country, in the region and internationally to pursue timely and effective response to climate change. I call you all to support with your active engagement and participation.

The Policy and Action Plan of the President of Mongolia has been approved recently. My program has two founding pillars – “Nature-Human” and “Human-Nature”. Our work is to result in the improvement of the lives and living environments of our people, which eventually is to enhance Mongolia’s competitiveness. Therefore, the gist and essence of my Action Program is Citizen Centered Policy, Nature Friendly Development and Competititve Mongolia.

Certainly, a Mongolian, a Mongolian citizen is capable to compete with others with his or her liberties, independence, self-reliance, and talents and skills. Mongolia is able to compete in the world with her pristine, beautiful, unique nature. A Mongolian possesses merits and qualities bestowed by nature. The Mongolian nature has as if human qualities, live qualities as well. Both a Mongolian man and Mongolian nature have proven in many different ways their competitiveness. And continue to prove.

Yet, what is the current state of competitiveness of the Mongolian government and government agencies and organizations! When compared with policies and actions of other governments, where we are? We should compare ourselves not with the bad records, but with and against good records. The competitiveness of the Mongolian government is directly linked to the life and work of a Mongolian citizen.

Not only Mongolia’s natural environment is degrading, but also the indicators of public health and quality of life are deteriorating to alarming levels. According to the WHO surveys, 80% of our children and youth are below the world average by the level of physical development. Average morbidity rates have increased by 160% in the last 10 years. Mental disorders and pathology incidence per 10000 population increased by 30%, and in some areas, even by 50%. One of every 5 Mongolians is addicted to alcohol, and more than 90% of crimes are committed in the state of alcoholic influence. Alcohol and alcoholism emerge as a misfortune of not just one family, it has become our national tragedy.

Evidently as well, we need to undertake a comprehensive survey on safe and healthy livelihood and gene pool security of Mongolia and undertake step-by-step measures to enact and implement necessary policies and actions. Security of a Mongol citizen is linked to the security of Mongolia in all aspects. Therefore, I deem it right for myself, as the President of the country, to revise in its entirety the National Security Policy Concepts to conform to the new realities and conditions.


Members of the Great Great Khural, and my fellow citizens,

I did speak in the past of the facts when the governments collapse not because of external attacks but from internal disgrace. Nobody in Mongolia questions today the existence of corruption and bureaucracy in Mongolia. Everyone at all levels recognizes and agrees that the corrupt practices are exacerbating, their magnitude is ever widening and the social cost and damages are further increasing. In the politics, in our society we see apprehension and anxiety. Therefore, distinguished members, let’s make the decisions, let’s work.

Let’s start the establishment of justice in our country with a judicial reform. This reform is to encompass a broad range. The whole judicial system from the start to the end – from filing a case to enforcing the court decision- and the legal basis and procedures need to be reformed. The scholars and experts, the practitioners and theorists all stress the need for such a sweeping reform. And the public demands such a change. Of course, collectively we will undertake this reform. At the high level, consistency and harmony of the policies and actions of the Parliament, Government and President are critical for success.

We all want the Mongolian government bare a good name, a good esteemed moral conduct. Every political and civil servant wants to earn the trust and support of the people. That trust and support depends on how just and fair we are, how strongly we instill justice and fairness in the society. People’s trust and support for politicians can be earned only when justice becomes the order of the day. Establishing justice is not an election promise of any one political force. This is a demand of the people who elected us. This is the sincere wish and desire of the people who we ought to serve, whose wishes we ought to fulfill, whose interests we ought to protect. This is, in fact, one of the core duties of the policy makers of Mongolia.

Of course, any reform dies out without a man. Justice ends when law is biased, when law is compromised. Here we don’t need a politics where one supports and the other one rejects, and where one protects and the other one demands. Attempts by public servants to seek somebody’s patronage and backing, and to try to save their lives together will not live long either.

Every person in this hall knows that there are possibilities to establish justice in Mongolia. The failure to translate these visible opportunities into real acts is what we call “bad politics, bad policy and bad performance”. The weakness of any government, of any policy maker is expressed by the very failure to make the impending decisions, to adopt the impending laws, and to dismiss the irresponsible officials. The people have to only benefit from our decisions, the people have to be happy about the decisions we make. What is the point of having a government, a power when the decisions are not made where solutions are clearly visible. We waste time, the golden time just by discussing and arguing about trifles, and engaging in empty chats. Any policy, any good aspiration and idea are worthless when people are exasperated and blame the government for inaction. Let’s realize this.

If we are to strengthen independence of the judiciary, we must improve the law on cours and the judicial system. We must conduct a management and personnel reform.

Unwillingness to leave his job or being undisciplined by the Court must not serve as a justification for an irresponsible and unethical official who misuses his power to remain in his/her position. Instead, officials must serve the state loyally, honestly and ethically without any violation of the law or serious misbehavior amounting to a breech of duty. If an official violates this guarantee, his term must end. People already consider that many people in this sector have already put an end to their moral terms in this way.

If the General Prosecutor, his deputies are held under the hostage of the organizations they are supposed to prosecute, and as they say, they are unable to discharge their official duties, they must be released from their positions. If it is true that the courts, the judiciary is not able to fully secure justice, the current authorities of the courts must be replaced. If the Agency to Combat Corruption is unable to perform its core duties, is not able to dig into to the essence of an issue, and are held under the auspices or pressure of oligarchs, moreover, if the Agency to Combat Corruption turns into an Agency to Comrade with Corruption, the leaders of this organization must be held accountable.

We should not let the justice roam in the streets and injustice dwell in offices. Those who speak in the name of justice are prejudiced, are treated ill. A worker who demands justice from his employer loses his job, loses his bread. People tend to fear to demand justice both inside and outside the organization they work for. Power holders continue to intimidate regular citizens and workers. At the same time, officials who have a duty to uphold justice but are unable or unwilling to do so, have been using legal protection in their interests totally carefree and indifferent about what is happening with the justice.

At the high level of the government the due decisions must be duly made. And the need for these decisions to be made is factored by our common collective interests, by inherent entitlements to development and prosperity, by the demand and call for justice. I do believe that the Parliament will be able to make such decisions.

The floods of the past summer brought grief and pains to many Mongolian families. One of our dailies carried a story about a six-year-old child left orphan by the disaster. When this child turns sixteen, I do not want to see the then Head of State be talking the same issues that I discussed earlier. We cannot let this child become a beggar in the street. We may not let any public official deprive this child of the right to a better future, full, happy and dignified life. Our these and other bad practices need to be changed for better. Everyone in this hall has a faith in his or her future, has children, and some have even grandchildren. When shall we stop talking about irresponsibility and end our irresponsible practices?

People are tired of corruption, poverty and empty official talk. The public is exhausted by injustice. Myself either, wouldn’t want to be speaking at every opening of the sessions of the Parliament and be talking the same things. Yet when and if necessary, on necessary issues I will speak in this hall.

On another note, regulation procedures for discussing at the Parliament session of any comments or initiatives of the President on an issue debated at the Parliament, are not clear and not streamlined. I will introduce an issue on this matter shortly to the Parliament. Please discuss and resolve my proposal.

To repeat, let’s make the necessary decisions in a timely manner for the sake of our future, for the people who invested their trust and confidence in us. Let’s help our people get jobs and professions. Let’s support them in their efforts to improve their livelihoods. Till when shall we afflict our people under the burden and pressure of price hikes and bureaucracy? A Mongol citizen needs not government pressures and tight watch, but a government’s care and support. We need a government and judiciary free of burden, free of hassle and stress for the people.

Distinguished Members of the State Great Khural,
We have endured a global crisis. Mongolia graduates from it with a twin deficit – fiscal and trade deficits. Witty and crafty nations emerge from the crisis having turned it into possibilities and opportunities. We desperately need a shrewd monetary policy, which supports the people. The construction sector, which was just flourishing a few months ago, should have emerged from the crisis as a winner and not a loser as it has, if only it was managed skillfully and followed fair supply and demand rules. Unfortunately, as a result of the Mongolbank’s unwise policies, in the aftermath of our passive, irresolute behavior, because of “too many cooks with different recipes for the same dish”, we didn’t succeed in this front. And we lost a huge chance to win from the crisis. I urge the Parliament to discuss and promptly ratify in the coming days the Mortgage Backed Loans Law. As an independent country we have to act expeditiously, making necessary decisions and effectively mobilizing our legal, financial, monetary capabilities and resources. While some argue that the crisis is over or we are just in another phase of it, we have to bear in mind clearly that our people remain unemployed, without income, and in fact, for many, even thousands of Mongolian households, the crisis is not over.

Had we provided cheap funding and credits for domestic industries, had we backed up their services and production at the time when we just started talking about the crisis, we would have all won from the crisis. Only by supporting each other, only when Mongols help Mongols, shall we be able to graduate from crisis. Only when a Mongol supports a Mongol, shall we withstand the competition, and will emerge as winners. Instead of seeking help and support from others, from outside, we need to seek and render assistance and support to each other. Even if we just fairly little support each other, a Mongolian makes a stunning success. This support should be reflected in government policies, decisions and actions. Competing with others, we shall find our market, secure our space, and aspire development. From this respectful rostrum, I wish to call the government and the people to support and help each other.

One of the social groups in desperate need for help, and a group which has fenced its opportunities in the livestock shelters are Mongolian herders. As I speak today, Mongolia’s livestock herd population accounts to over 50 million. At its peak, our annual meat consumption is 8-9 million heads of livestock. At best seasons, the capacity of Mongolia pasture lands is to feed no more than 30 million heads of livestock. Now this capacity is being further eroded under the multiple risks and threats – soil erosion, desertification, drying up, heating, drought and floods. As of the moment, some 15-17 million male livestock is in fences for slaughter. The herd is growing, yet no buyers, no markets are found. Indeed, the situation our meat and livestock products industry is in is grim, as grim and desperate as one would feel under a siege.

We need to immediately address our veterinary service. We must produce final goods using our animal originated raw materials and look for exports market. This is especially important for meat and meat products. Almost every Mongolian will benefit from the marketing of meat and meat products. Industries will revive, people will get jobs. Students and those who migrate to urban centers will start earning. Commerce and trade will expand. Everywhere we shall see boosted economic activities. What we need now for this sector is government participation, policy, initiatives and concrete actions. Livestock is growing, but the benefits from livestock breeding is shrinking. All herding households have loans, for which interests and principals are due. So let’s take concerted efforts in this area. We have the wealth, so there will definitely be the ways out of the situation. At the same time, we should also reckon that our urban residents live difficult lives too. Our issues will be resolved once and if we provide opportunities, open up rights for our citizens regardless where they live – in cities or countryside.

Our farmers are going to harvest quite well this year despite the fact that difficulties were encountered. “Atar-3” campaign is yielding good harvest, and soon Mongolia will be able to meet her domestic needs for wheat and vegetables with her own harvests. Now we need to work on effective marketing, storing and protecting the crops, and support the farmers by taking necessary actions and decisions. I heard, quite a big stack of last year’s crops is rotten in the storage facilities. I believe the relevant authorities are seeing to making sure that good policies, good decisions are not doomed in the wrong, bad hands.

We all understand that we must pay a special attention to our public health. The key to health reform is in the insurance system. Everyone sees and hears that today health care is a Number One item on the agendas of the governments of the world’s leading countries. For enhancing public health, initiatives for mobile, dynamic and healthy lifestyles, sports and athletic competitions, contests and races are important. I am convinced that we can draw a very concrete series of actions, to be supported by both the public and the government.

Education is inarguably a sector which defines Mongolia’s future, yet which needs a substantial reform. One of the keys to develop this sector would be identifying the optimal financing mechanism for student tuition at the university and college level education. On the other hand, a student tuition remains a factor strongly affecting a household budget. We will hold an extensive discussion, conduct comprehensive studies, study others’ experiences and lessons and will come up with the necessary solutions. At any rate, we are working to resolve the financing and associated legal matters on this issue, and as promptly as possible. Education, at it all levels and instances must be a model of justice and showcase of democratic norms just like any other vitally important social sectors.

In this manner, I could speak here about solutions and decisions for a host of issues. When we compare the world we live in today with what it was a few years ago, I note that when we encountered an issue in the past we would start looking for a solution to the issue, we would engage in a wide and broad search for an effective clue and answers. However today, thanks to information technology progress and thanks to globalization, the solutions are clear for everyone, they are open and accessible. It is a matter of a will, a commitment, and a desire to adopt, accept or choose from the solutions.

If a Mongol businessman or an entity would like to succeed as a businessman, let’s adopt the world’s best doing business benchmarks. If we want to have the best schools, let’s work to meet the world’s standards for best schools. For a best student, best teacher, best doctor, and lawyer – let’s aim to reach the world’s benchmarks and standards to aspire only the best, only the highest performance.

There are even measurement criteria for the best economy, for the best country. If we want to effectively fight with corruption, let’s first make our anti-corruption laws consistent with the UN Anti-Corruption Convention to which Mongolia is signatory. If we have our own good laws on property and contract rights, our doing business index would improve. If our judiciary becomes just and fair, our whole society would have made a major stride forward. If we embark upon resolute reforms in our health and education sectors, our global ranking is to advance as well.

The share of administrative and bureaucratic cost in our GDP needs to be drastically cut. If we delegate power to local communities, business initiatives and groups, the burden of the central government is to notably alleviate, and functions and responsibilities are to become more concrete, thus progress will be achieved in the overall development modus operandi of the country. We need to arrive at a system whereby a citizen is able to benefit from the taxes he or she pays and wealth he or she creates. Speaking of which, I shall introduce a concrete module on tax revenue and expenditure structure. I ask you to support and cooperate with me in the implementation of the module.

Dear friends, people of Mongolia,
The core principle I have pursued since I swore in as President of Mongolia has been the principle of adhering to and safeguarding my people’s common, collective rights and interests. President is seen as the symbol of national unity. National unity is expressed through common, collective interests of the people. The enforcement and implementation of these collective interests necessitate justice. I deem it the core duty of the President to work to create the environment where we all together, collectively are enabled to aspire progress and prosperity.

“It’s better for ten people make a step forward together than for one person make ten steps alone” – goes a saying. Instead of the leader galloping somewhere ahead alone, it’s better for the nation to make one step forward together. Every time we unite for the same purpose of bringing prosperity to our people, how ever hard the path is, how ever complex the process is, Mongolia will have made steps ahead. In a democracy, decision-making process is usually complex and time-consuming. Yet, molded with patience and persistence, the decisions made in this manner are long-lived and generate universally beneficial returns. And the reason for that is broader circles of people, wider interests were able to partake in the decision making process.

Mongolia discussed the Oyu Tolgoi project for many years in order to make a responsible decision. And even today, even here we might encounter someone or someones who do not agree, who are not satisfied and who feel tempted to criticize. Yet, upon talks and discussions, the legitimate government made its decision. The Members of the State Great Khural present in this hall today have made an important contribution to reaching that decision. Indeed, our Parliament was able to demonstrate that it is the supreme representative of the people’s interests. The predecessor Parliament as well as earlier Governments had also worked to their best. Our citizens, our public have stated their positions, tabled their demands, thus making a tremendous contribution to the deal.

Soon we will open our doors to an investment of a colossal by any standard scale. This is an agreement we reached and the solution we found in the light of our realities. Certainly, things will improve and harmonize as we move ahead. We did our best not to lose time. This agreement is one of the major solutions we collectively achieved since our transition to an entirely new social order. At the end of the day, our innermost hearty desires and willpower converge at the point where national security and national interests are concerned, which cannot and may not be compromised for anything.

I was guided by this supreme willpower of a Head of State. By settling on the Oyu Tolgoi Agreement, our whole nation, our firm one family of Mongols has made a step forward together. I congratulate you all, I congratulate the people of Mongolia.

It’s nice to have natural wealth. And it’s right to utilize these resources. Yet, a question arises - how do we spend the revenues we generate from minerals, which perhaps could be the hardest challenge we may face. We have promises made to our people. We will work to translate into reality these promises. On the other hand, how do we avoid the “resource curse”, an undesirable upshot, which still troubles many nations and countries? In a country with non-transparent, unjust, irresponsible public service, mining revenues become not a source of growth, but a cause of relapse. In an unjust society with biased laws big money creates big problems. Few enjoy prosperity, and most fall into abject poverty.

The world has some good recipes and many bad experiences. In fact, we did speak about this for quite a long time. We spoke about the rights for citizens to become the genuine owners of the wealth, and to secure these rights by law. Provided the citizens become the true owners of the natural assets, spending will become fair and open, and control will be exercised over the disbursement of revenues. Let’s think over and over again.

There is a notion that the revenues generated by mining cannot be spent back for mining. The benefits are said to be even greater if the mining revenues are spent for other economic sectors and development programs. Certainly we will spend for public health and education. We must spend for infrastructure, technological progress and production of final goods. Equally important is to spend for consolidation and strengthening of democracy and justice. We must invest in empowering our citizens and making our judiciary just and honest – briefly, being a democratic country we must invest in our democracy and in our people.

We have resolved a major issue having discussed it for many years. We will have to make other, similarly important decisions in the years to come, and those decisions will come to affect the lives of many generations of Mongols. I wish all of us exert profound vision, wisdom and patience.

Distinguished Members of the Parliament, dear friends,
Earlier, I reminded you of a six-year-old child, and the future this child anticipates. Who he will be in ten years, what life he will be living in twenty years depends to a great extent on the decision makers of our times. This year, thousands of six-year-old children, winged with bright dreams and wishes, just like the child I spoke about, enrolled in school past September. They will discover the world, and learn of the earth we live on. Also, they will study the history of Mongolia.

Everyone knows what a legendary history and what a glorious state our ancestors built. The world knows. Our ancestors were the founders and participants of creation of the world’s of a new order. Yet the most notable virtue our forefathers bestowed upon us is the great integrity of the Mongol nation.

The Great Mongol State had a great integrity, had a great fame. The Great Mongol state was a state of law. Law which was just, fair, and enforced. The Great Mongol state was a just state.
Great Mongol state respected faith, and the versatile intellectual freedoms. Our forefathers were builders and creators, they supported free trade and business. They welcomed new technologies and facilitated to communication and postal outreach. There are many other spectacular accomplishments and virtues of our ancestors, you just name them.

That was the time when Mongolia earned a good name. The Mongol nation had a sound fame. All of our forefathers cherished that good name and endeavored to keep the name clean. They were men who would “rather have their bones broken than the names stained”. “The citizens of the Great Mongol State did not steal, didn’t lie” - read historical accounts. Citizens of the Great Mongol State protected and loved the nature, revered national culture and traditions, listened to the seniors and elderly. Travelers from overseas were surprised to discover how neat, organized and industrious the people of the Great Mongol State were. Our fathers and forefathers were themselves men of a great fame, and therefore, were able to build such a great state.

I state all this here, dear state officials, and my dear people, to call you all for holding in the highest regard the good name and glorious fame of Mongolia, to make Mongolia a country of even better name. We do have all possibilities to make Mongolia such a country. The historic choice our people made for our freedom two decades ago is the most salient precondition to pursue a good name.

Only free people, using their freedom are able to create wonderful things, create their own history. Only free people do demand from their governments equal opportunities and justice. Only free people can be the owners of their actions and causes, and be held accountable for them. Only freedom does offer the space for the people to be the true owners of their homelands, to use the available opportunities. Freedom serves as the fertile soil to nurture patriotism. The essence of patriotism is integrity. Let’s all together foster patriotism to aspire Mongolia’s integrity.

Triumph of justice in Mongolia will enhance the integrity of the Mongol nation. If the world speaks of Mongolia as a country with just courts, with laws enforced and with transparent government, our nation’s integrity will be harnessed. For good education go to Mongolia, for good hospitals – see Mongolian doctors, to create, build something new – explore Mongolia, to live a good life – off you go to Mongolia – maybe, to create such a country, to make Mongolia such a country, we might need time. Yet, the historic mandate to start creating such a land rests with us, and no one else. We must work hard and harder.

Mongolia’s fame and integrity are being articulated by our athletes and artists. A young Mongol man stars at a ballet in a New York classical theatre, a Mongol girl sings opera in Italy. A Mongol athlete wins our first gold medal in the world championship in judo wrestling and another boy brings the first gold from the boxing tournament. A Mongol girl contributes another silver medal from world’s freestyle wrestling championship, adding and enriching the pool of Mongol marvels and achievements. And amazingly enough, instantly, literally, in Mongolian time count, while a herder goes out to gather his flock of horses, Mongol girls and boys tame the world’s arena of fame.

Another source of pride for our nation, another group of Mongolian citizens who consolidate the good name of Mongolia is our men serving in the peacekeeping operations. Carrying on the courage and perseverance, skills and talent of Mongol warriors of 800 years ago, Mongolian peacekeepers are fulfilling with honor and veracity their mandate for peace in the places of war and crises. They are the heroes of our times, of modern times.

There are many Mongolians studying and working overseas. They not only support their families and relatives financially, but also bring vigor and dynamism to our development efforts, new opportunities, and new knowledge. From this rostrum, I extend my sincere congratulations to all my fellow citizens for building and enhancing the pride of our nation. I would also like to thank foreign countries and international organizations who have helped us during the most challenging times of our life. Thank you.

All the prides I stated earlier testify that Mongolia’s future, Mongolia’s tomorrow is bright. Add to this our unique culture, traditions, and our history. Add our respect and care for elderly and inspiration of the young. Add the virtues of a Mongol man, the virtues of our Nature. Also add the flexibility of the vision of our state. Recall and beware of the human rights and values that just cannot, may not be violated even when the martial law takes effect. Add the citizens’ participation in making and implementing state policies. Let’s never make decisions to taint the integrity and good name of our nation. If such decisions are made, let’s rectify them immediately.

If all this is achieved, Mongolia will be a nation of a good name and fame, a good integrity. All conditions to foster such a name will be created. Our children will take pride in their beautiful motherland, they will read a beautiful history and shall continue creating such a beautiful history.

In conclusion, I once again urge our public servants at all levels to equally treat our people and our nature.


Let my Mongolia dwell eternally.
Thank you.