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2011-04-15




Closing remarks for the “Judicial Reform and Justice” National Forum, President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj



Mongolians have convened as a nation

Thank you all, you have worked quite hard, congratulations. I heard people talking about how well this forum was organized and that it should have happened sooner. Beginning a task of significance is important. It can be concluded that quite a long time has passed since it has become necessary for the people to hold serious discussions on judicial reform and justice.
“Judicial Reform and Justice” national forum did not come out of the blue. It came about based on our 21 years of effort, social transformation and success. You all remember how difficult it was to transform a Communist regime to establish a society that values human freedom and how much we fought amongst one another to come to this day as a nation. Our elder generation was hit hardest by the transformation that changed the way we lived for 70 years. But everyone made an effort. Everyone including the Government, Head of the state, Parliament, Prosecutor’s Office, Police, Court Decision Implementation Authorities of the previous and past generations made a united effort to establish this judiciary, this society and we have come thus far. We ought to thank those people, communities and the former employees who were all a part of this transformation.
“The inglorious part of history is as much a teacher for me as the glorious.” We ought to talk about things that have passed in a decent, good manner, if not from which we may learn. Thus, we should leave with a positive recollection of these past two days. I believe we shall take many things away with us for our future.
Mongolia has reached the stage of talking about such kind of a reform
Five, ten, twenty years ago, talking about this was not possible. 20 years ago, limited food distribution issue was of highest priority for us. Having a breakfast on the table for our children was on our mind. But those days are gone! The process of establishing Democracy, political organizations, privatization of livestock and other properties were all just beginning.
After striving for a better life for years, people have reached the point where they are able to say “now is the time to live a decent life, make an honest living. Leading the right life is what we are supposed to do”. Today, Mongolia has reached that point. For this, we should be proud as a nation.
This is what our people, our country has achieved during the past 21 years. The time has come where not living an honest life is considered bad. When not living with integrity, one looks shameful. People now understand that working for the government ought to be for the good of the people by leading an honest life. This is the reason why we are convened here today.
This aspiration, this sense was revealed fully at this forum. We did not merely talk about the court and other organizations in this auditorium. When I was watching Eagle TV, a citizen from Uvs Aimag called. We are participating in this forum as the entire nation. The people are putting that much importance on this event. People all over the country are talking about what has been talked about in this auditorium, about right and wrong. We have convened as a nation today. We spoke out all our thoughts throughout the country.
The history of Mongolians isa long one full of pride. We will celebrate the 2220th anniversary of our establishment. Let me remind you to remember one thing from this forum. People are saying this anniversary is the Hun Empire’s, but in actuality, it is the anniversary of the Mongolian polity. Recently, the President of the Russian Federation decreed an order to celebrate the country’s anniversary. This year, we Mongolians are celebrating the 2220th anniversary of our polity which when first established had laws and regulations already in place.
To this day, we as a nation have gone through so much, gained so much, lost so much. Some people say we have lost visible things, buildings. However, we didn’t lose the Mongol individual, Mongol human. Everyone sitting here, your 30th generation ancestor lived, 60th generation existed in this land too. They have come so far through you. Mongol individual, Mongol gene, Mongol blood was never lost, ever precious. And with this, the yearning for an honest and happy life was also never lost. The history of our philosophy and understanding of living an honest and happy life is a long one. Today we are trying to make that yearning into a reality, in this land.
In this sense, I am extremely pleased with the large participation in this event. The Speaker of the Parliament sent us a greeting, even though he is on an official visit abroad. The Parliament Members also actively participated. The Prime Minister emphasized our joint cooperation and support in making judicial reform and strengthening the judiciary. Every decision maker is telling us to implement the tasks for making this society a more just place to live. Parliament Members from any and all parties have approached me to tell “what a necessary, good deed we are doing and how we ought to put it into practice”. Thus, I am of utmost joy to see the sense of just society is established at the high level of governance, among the people, and at all levels where Mongolians are living.
We talk about social responsibility in the public interest. Both government organizations and the judiciary must have a sense of social responsibility. And you all know that sense of responsiblility is defined by public interest.
People are speaking their mind. But government officials are not supposed to be subjective. They cannot talk in such a manner as “in my opinion… I think… because this must be done…or this cannot be done”. Government officials are ought to be dictated by the social values, as opposed to dictating the other. We are ought to be dictated by the law, not dictate it through one’s personal opinion. There’s no such thing as the interest of the President of Mongolia. My rights must be dictated by the people’s interests and wishes. One must not let one’s personal convictions dictate the people’s wishes. I believe this is why so many people have come here today.
Sustainability based on public interest is important
I hear about people talking about sustainable operations. Everyone should think about on the basis for sustainability. That which is based on values for the most can sustain itself throughout the years. It is most distressing to think that a country’s judiciary is sustainabile by having a single official or President be in office for a long period of time. What I am saying is that a system should not be broken by having one person change office, leave it or by one person’s life.
Value should not be based on an individual’s opinion or position, especially if based upon an elected politicians’ point of view. Value must be socially accepted. A country’s Constitution that lasted for 200 years does not represent the President’s personal opinion, or a single individual’s. It represents the people’s wishes, dreams, common interest. That is why it was able to last for 200 years. I believe that if we see what is worth valuing in exactly this sense, and are able to have our organization’s, office’s rights be dictated by the value, we can make the change.
The choice Mongolians made 21 years ago was based upon a publically accepted common value. Therefore, it still persists strong today. People from abroad have come to see how we did in the past two decades. They see a positive future in Mongolia. They can tell that Mongolia is better than a country led by one person, one family, they’re investing in our country. Countries around the world are aiming to deepen their relationship with us.
We went through a tough time. Some times it seems as though we are walking on a smooth path, yet the rocky one is left to be walked on, and vise versa.. We went through a rocky and dusty road for many years. but we are heading close to a smooth road, which we are paving the way. Some believe we are walking on a smooth road but that a bumpy road is still ahead. Such countries are considered unreliable. As for Mongolia, we have walked on a dusty, bumpy, rainy road in the beginning, so we know we ought to walk on a smoother one. We came to know it because we walked it with our lives, our body. A path based on common value and interest. I am proud of today for we have shown each other the kind of path we area heading towards.
We talked about reform, which is ought to be, always. “Reform is not a political campaign. It shall not end after two days of conference. These two days are just the beginning of our nation’s judicial reform” is what the people are saying and I agree wholeheartedly. We are mapping out our road. We introduced 4 draft laws related to the judiciary today. Perhaps 8 new laws might be drafted for approval. We need to make changes in many laws and practices. The more opinions, the more people are better. Like how a mother changes her baby’s diaper every morning, freedom, democracy and reform get tainted without constant care and change.
Just like this, we must make reforms constantly. We shall work hard while we are in office and leave the fruit of our efforts to the next generation. I believe the generation after us will do the same. In order to do that, I must make demand in return.
Just three days ago, I received an official letter from the General Council of the Courts proposing to dismiss Khovd Aimag’s two judges from office. I accepted the proposal. They drank alcohol. We require judges not to drink. When there’s a nationwide appeal to decrease alcohol consumption, those judges may not drink alcohol. If a similar situation repeats, we will do the same. Even if it is a difficult task, especially when we meet face to face, but there’s no other way. But we have to make difficult decisions while we are in office. We cannot pick and choose the easy ones and leave the hard ones for others to tackle. My policy is “for however long you work for the government, you must always aim to do the hard job, sacrifice some resting time, because you will have time to rest later. If you want to take a rest, you can leave the office, such a time will come.” I hope you have the same understanding as me.
Justice is not something only talked about in Ulaanbaatar, at the Government Palace
I have seen many times that if you take the idea of a benevolent action and provide support to implement it; the people can continue that idea and make it into a reality. Thus, I believe our fellow Mongolians can continue this judicial reform as well. I ask all provinces to convene at the Citizens’ Representative Hural to talk about reform in each branch. Perhaps 50-60% of the proposals and issues are resolvable at the provincial level. Thus, there’s no need to try and resolve them here.
I believe this is how our reform will occur. What we will do starting tomorrow is important. People will ask you about the result of this two days event. I ask organizations to discuss this event. Talk about what we’ve talked regarding the police, court decision implementation office, notaries, attorneys, education and common citizens. I ask everyone including those who came from the provinces and soums to talk with each other about this.
Everything said by everyone during this forum is recorded and many diverse proposals and recommendations are coming out of this. I am personally very satisfied with it. As the President, I don’t get the chance to meet with citizens and hear their opinions everyday. Almost 2000 people attended this forum including media representatives and students. We will make a pamphlet out of the recommendations and proposals that have come out of this event for you. Everyone can consider oneself the author of this pamphlet. I ask Heads of the Citizens’ Representative Office to talk about justice with the people of the community. Judiciary and justice are not something only talked about in Ulaanbaatar, at the Government Palace. Everyone deserves to live happy wherever they are, whether it is soum or anywhere else. Talk about whether the soum government administrations are providing the possibility for such a life.
We asked for people’s recommendations on 4 draft laws, now they will be expanded. We will expand the working group by adding a number of active participants to the forum where it would include those recommendations in the draft laws and work on revising the draft. The Spring Session of the Parliament ends before Naadam, so we will work harder and longer. Let’s try to submit the draft laws to the Parliament within May. Any draft law can be approved faster if the draft is developed from multiple points of view. Thus, we need to do just that before submission. I ask the Ministry of Justice to be an active part of the process.
Justice must exist in the enforcing ministry and government. Names of ministries come from the main job of the organization, for instance if employment is important today, then there should be a ministry of employment. The organization resolves issues regarding it and its structure keeps changing. Some countries have knowledge economy ministry and minister. They are at a whole another level than Mongolia. Henceforth we’d call minister Nyamdorj the Minister of justice. I am very happy that the minister of justice and other officials partook in this event.
Lack of scientific mind
Laws and policies must be based on two things. One is citizens’ participation and opinion the other is research. Do we have these in Mongolia? What is our law based on? They’re mainly based on politicians’ feelings, in other words, what Parliament Members think, that’s what they’re based on. Parliament Members write law drafts. This only involves human brain, not social mindset or scientific thinking. Our country is a unique one. It gets dead cold beginning October or November all the way until April. As soon as it gets a bit warmer, mammots and rabbits come out and people start celebrating all different holidays. Then the cycle repeats. The society lives actively for only two seasons. We have little time for active working. On top of all that, election comes every 4 years and changes everything from before. Election year is as busy as a bee hive. Therefore, when are we actually working?
Let’s summarize all the discussion from the event and distribute it to law school teachers and students. Mongolian law students should make their degree thesis on what works and what doesn’t in Mongolian judiciary, whether witness protection is a good idea, what are some of the issues in court and prosecutor’s office etc., these issues have become epidemic in our society. The numerous law schools of Mongolia should be debating on how to cure the epidemic. The recommendations coming from PhD’s should be received by the Parliament, the President, from those we would get the direction where we want to head.
Politicians make political decisions. What kind of decisions are mine should be? Well, I am announcing the need for judicial reform. Today, we have made this decision together with the government and Parliament Members, enough. This is our duty. Researchers and specialists should identify the kind of reform, the way it can be done, how the laws would be written, what kind of wording should be used based on the people’s opinion. Creating a major centralized research center should be established by uniting the research centers at law schools, the Parliament, country development research centers.
100-200 specialists would work at a research center at a major legislative organization. The funding for which is never deducted by the state in any case, the salary of the employees are high, the research done is sent back to the ordering Parliament Members and decision makers with anonymous content. If I inquire about whether it is right to have the same work allotted for the General Council of Courts and the Chief Justice, I should be able to receive a research material within two weeks. We lack such research development. We need to talk about establishing and allocating funding for it.
The Government Palace, the people’s palace
Last but not least, let me thank you again to all the participants. Our Government Palace became the people’s palace for the last two days. We didn’t leave a single person outside the door. Even though this auditorium only holds 800 people, our staff opened extra space to let everyone else in. they put the necessary equipments in those rooms and everyone used them for their discussions. 1600 participants plus 400 people consisting of the working group, the media, service staff and students were here. Let me tell the rest of the state administrations to let the people in as was done in these two days. Receive everyone, open the locked doors and extra space. Mongolians make room at their extra-ger to receive their hosts. The government should also work as such.
Thanks to the organizations and citizens who participated, supported and made this forum possible. Thank you Speaker of the Parliament, Prime Minister, Parliament Members and Minister of Justice.
Provincial citizens, judges, prosecutors, police all came here. Representatives from various sectors have taken part in this event. An American judge also came just to participate in this event. Provincial and soum citizens participated in this event actively. Thanks to those who expressed their mind and were an active part of the forum. Thanks to the discussion panelists, organizing staff, typists, technical assistants and students.
Thank you media representatives. The journalists from the various television, newspaper and radio, who made this event a truly national one, who will continue to work in collaboration with us to create a more just society in Mongolia. The result of the forum has been positive and effective. Thank you everyone again.
April 15, 2011