Friday, October 29, 2010

Right to Sleep

UB Post

October 29, 2010

This is one of many things that were lost for residents of Ulaanbaatar City. Conspired government officials have stolen from us not only our lands of kindergarten, playground and other properties of public ownership, pure air and sidewalks but also our right to sleep.

We all no longer talk about how the city is noisy in day times and almost got used to it.

Noises of construction and repair works in every street and every building, of car signals and of hammers smashing down the concrete walls has been increasing day by day, raising the question about how many people cannot sleep because of such noises. Construction of a building almost inches close to your building will continue all night long. Thousands of residents who went to beds after long working day, particularly elders and infants cannot sleep well till the morning. Many of them just call to police because there is nothing they can do. The police line 102 will answer we cannot do anything if there is no direct threat to human safety, please call to 310005. The person on duty, who is on this number, would say: “What can I do on my own, but I will forward to management”. Such scene repeats every night and the days are going by. Unfortunately, there is no mechanism to stop activities responsible for all noises in Ulaanbaatar City, which don’t allow residents sleep well. Don’t hope that the group of people called ‘city parliamentarians’ would care if you sleep or not. They are too busy with their “job” to get an estate or catch up a profitable business while in office. In civilized and democratic countries, there is a special law or regulations regulating the noise in the city.

Noise is classified into the classification of pollution like air and some special requirements are put against it. In most of megacities of the world, car horn is prohibited at night and the trespasser is subject to penalty. It is also restricted to use loud speaker at railway station. Any construction work between 06.00pm and 07.00am hours is totally forbidden. Any and all men who infringes it, is levied high fines so that it never repeats again. The United States Law of Noise Pollution says that any infringement of standard herein is fined US$25,000 per day or is imprisoned up to one year. In civilized countries, early it is legalized to fine for example if loudspeaker’s volume is high audible to neighboring house or street, or audible beyond hundreds of steps.

But today noise standards are expressed in decibel (dB). For instance, human whisper generates 20 dB, normal dialogue between two people in 1 or 2 meters - 60dB, sound of truck - 90dB, gas hammer – 100dB, rock music - 110, take-off by B747 aircraft – 120dB respectively. If it is higher than 130 dB, the ear will pain, further drumhead will be damaged seriously. A WHO research indicated that 3.0% of people dying because of heart diseases due to noise-related stress. A man feels uncomfortable in the sound higher than 45 dB and cannot sleep in the noise higher than 40dB.

Kid’s learning capacity is completely lost in noises above 55 dB, and they even get into stress. Metropolitan residents must take care of such impact of noise and demand city authorities and central government take efficient actions. They are obliged to serve the people. Instead of serving the people, they indirectly support seizure of all of citizens’ rights and properties and are even involved in. Look at these numerous buildings built and being built between two buildings in Ulaanbaatar City.

They build buildings blocking windows of families and sidewalks. Residents first will react with strong protest. They go to all competent organizations, including the government, courts, khoroos and apartment owners associations, and make sensations, in the hope that they will serve for the people’s sake. All organizations will pledge to take necessary actions. Very soon, all parties will get silent because all got what they wanted – the money. Since the money is paid to make residents silent, the owner of building will do whatever he or she wants, but the residents, who sold their comfort for small money, will stay awake whole night saying no complaints no matter how the noise is.

Exactly like this way, your right to sleep is sold and conspired at the end. City authorities, government officials and building owners cannot choke back laughter looking at that residents cannot get asleep at all. Because, they all live comfortably in big houses in mountainsides which they acquired by means of conspiracy by lying the people that mountainsides are part of national park, far from big city’s noise and polluted air. My metropolitans, have a good sleep … if you can!

Translated by P.Shinebayar

Friday, October 22, 2010

Counterfiet Medications

UB Post

October 22, 2010

“Mongolians used to be poisoned with foods, but now we are poisoned with drugs” said the Health Minister S.Lambaa (Unuudur Newspaper. 2010.09.27. Page C3)

You are right, Mr. Minister. We, the citizens, already know that we use counterfeit drugs poisonous for our health. Those who lost their loved ones because of using poisonous counterfeit drugs, knows even better.

Citizens of Mongolia want to know only about why your drugstores are not stopping to sell counterfeit drugs and what you, Mr. Minister, are doing to stop this kind of crime as the highest competent one in charge of population health. You said “Drug control is carried by the State Professional Inspection Agency, but originally the Health Ministry must take control of drugs”. Can Mongolian Government and state-run agencies control themselves? State controlling agencies are all already in entrenchment.

In principal, we, the citizens, don’t care about where is your Government’s controlling and inspection body. The only thing we want and demand is You, as a cabinet member, put a control, no matter professional or devil’s, as soon as possible and stop exploiting your people by counterfeit drugs. If you cannot find out who is the importer of counterfeit drugs, punish such importers and stop this crime immediately, then it would not be useful even if you take control of drugs and set up that new agency as you said.

New seedlings can be planted only after weeds are pulled up by the roots. Even innocent young kids die on hospital beds because hospitals inject counterfeit injections. Wondering if You are in power to stop your subordinate who force patients to buy counterfeit drugs or not?

As Minister for Health, can you publicly announce how many companies are licensed to import medications in Mongolia, when did they get such licenses, on what grounds the licenses are suspended and how many of these licensed companies are linked to current and previous ministers, deputies and to those authorized to issue licenses? The citizens doubt that You can announce all these publicly.

Generally, such kind of information is always open for public in any democratic state. Besides, You are the Minister from the Democratic. If you can, publicize it and the citizens will judge your right and wrong very soon. Carry sudden inspection in drugstores to find out how much of all drugs are counterfeit products and publicly announce by each drugstore. Then expose how these counterfeit drugs came here. There won’t be any trouble to find out it because there is no doubt that the money from counterfeit business always goes to its counterfeit dealers. After that, find out who gave licenses. If it is difficult to know where they came from, talk with customs.

Ask why individuals bring foreign drugs in their hand luggage. Then reveal if they pay taxes or not. Also ask why drugstores do not use price tags on drugs they sell. Ask why drug price is fixed by a drug selling lady, who is able to easily define your purchasing power instantly due to your appearance and look, better than Statistics Office of Mongolia. Deal with all foreign and domestic hospitals and all drugstores, who make superb income from selling the drugs in retail like tobacco.

You, Mr. Minister, and your “colleagues” must have noticed the following while undergoing expensive medical treatment abroad. In a civilized country, it is recommended to refuse from the drug if its package is opened or damaged and, in case of using such drug, the people are warned that the manufacturer will not be responsible for the quality of its drug. Do the authorities care that everything is vice versa in MĐľngolia?

If not, please tell us who must care of it. This is not all about medications. The same situation exists for all products, tools, apparatus related to health and everything associated with hospital is counterfeit. Are all these food supplements and herbals are real?

The most of natural supplements and herbals come from Russia. All television channels in this country are discussing that Russia leads in the world by its imports of such counterfeit products. Do we only bring original ones? The only official, who has the competence and authority to expose, publicize and deal with all these, is You.

It is your basic duty to do so. Your previous ministers have not done this and they have not been punished for not doing this. Because political parties in power never charge each other with responsibility. It is always like that “one feudal is replaced by another feudal”. Though you, the politicians, were excited to pass a national program so-called “Healthy Mongolian”, finally it appears that there is no healthy Mongolian. Don’t You and your ministry staff really know that there are a number of successful practices about how to stop counterfeit drugs and medical equipment? Ask the citizens if you cannot find out such best practices.

Minister Lambaa, you are the first person to become a health minister despite the fact you’re you are not a doctor. Minister is not required to be a doctor, it is enough to be a good manager.

Therefore, deal with the half of things written here if you have a desire and willingness to be a good manager. At least start it. Just set a standard.

Maybe the counterfeit drug businessmen altogether would unite their wealth and influence to change you somehow in order to defend their dirty business. But if you manage to do half of this at least, You will easily win next elections again.

Translated by P.Shinebayar

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Lost in Storm

UB Post
October 15, 2010

Our government is always with events and acts just only to ‘extinguish the fire’. It is obvious that the man, who always goes downwind and is lost in storm, is not able to think and plan something. Probably the government had suddenly noticed last week that almost 40% or 1.1 million people of total population is able-bodied, 140 thousand of them had gone abroad and 200 thousand is unemployed, only 1/5 of all able-bodied population are active job seekers and the rest just rely on their monthly incomes. As their reaction, they said they are going to do two things: first is to pass a law on export of own citizens abroad and import of foreign workers to Mongolia and the second is to create a national integrated information network of labor market registration and information.

The government lost in storm seems like just following its nose. The problem of labor force in Mongolia is that job seekers do not have satisfactory skills to meet requirements of vacancies and that their professional diplomas and certificates do not guarantee its concepts.

By creating a giant registration and information system, you cannot just make the labor force skilled and qualified. Our government acts in a way of “racketeering” of foreign investors and is overdosing that some 3,300 specialists are to be prepared in three years with the investment of Oyu Tolgoi as if they have managed it. The health minister and his deputy made a mountain out of a molehill by laying a foundation stone for the building extension of Maternity Hospital No.1. Indeed the money for the extension was “donated” by Boroo Gold Company.

Foreign companies have not entered Mongolia to build a school or a hospital. They are forced to finance all these. It is obvious that they will deduct such costs from the tax they will pay later. It is legitimacy that foreign companies must run operations and pay taxes as the others do and the Government must collect the tax to make necessary investments according to a certain plan.

Don’t you think it is a good idea to order each foreign investor entering Mongolia to build a particular facility, without the need of ministries in charge or parliamentarians? If the government could act in far-sighted and planned way, then the development benefits would be sufficient for all citizens and would provide equal opportunity for education and employment. An industrialized country means the one, whose citizens have job and are paid enough to have sufficient livelihood. There are two basic reasons why the minimum wage rate is so low in Mongolia. Firstly, social and health premiums and income taxes imposed on wage are high. Secondly, the labor productivity is low.
Labor productivity of Mongolians is low in Mongolia while it is high abroad, which means there is no fair competition in any business field. Let us have a look at labor force problem in case of mining industry. The mining industry creates fewer jobs compared to the investment made to the industry. However, we must use existing opportunities in a proper and beneficial way since this industry is only sector that makes big money for Mongolia. Though Chile and Peru both allowed huge investment to their mining industries like we are doing now, the results were relatively different. The poverty rate has significantly reduced in Chile, but it did not change in Peru. If 44% of Chilean population was below the poverty line (US$1 income per day, or less) in 1987, after two decades it has reduced to 18%.

Today, the average salary rate is US$800 in Chile. Chile has taken a number of significant actions to diversify its economy and improve the population livelihood; the most attractive one is how it solved its labor force. Three keystones of Chilean reform strategy were to make its human resource high quality, carry out business reform capable to create value and to develop basic science on strategy.

Out of several steps towards building the quality human resource, the most noticeable step was rational and efficient solution of issues concerning jobs and employment. First of all, they had a thorough investigation into functions and requirements of jobs in each mining company and summarized results according to each sector. Afterwards, they had defined which training framework, practice and skills are in demand and had prepared teachers and instructors at first.

They involved all concerned parties to this mission to establish standards of skills for every worker and work out training schedule meeting this standard. Workers are trained and evaluated under this standard and training schedule, to get their professional certificates. Because the latest standards of training, examinations and evaluation from the beginning were prepared not under own standard but under the standard approved by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the worker is capable to work in any mine in any country once he got that professional certificate.

Generally, it is quite better and more effective to directly copy best standards in the world for local application and use knowledge and experience of specialists efficiently, than preparing or correcting them on your own. It has been many years since Chile has used a translated version of French civil and criminal laws, without making any corrections or alterations. In Chile, the Cabinet selects ministers from technocrats, not according to political membership but to their skills and knowledge.

There was a time when thirteen ministers out of 15-cabinet member of Mongolia had been doctors of sciences. Anyway, the time has come to adopt a strategic policy intended to replace nonrenewable mining resources with renewable knowledge resource and implement it in all fields step by step.

Translated by P.Shinebayar

Friday, October 8, 2010

Inclusive Growth

UB Post
October 8,2010

In recent times, economists are saying that the measurement of a country’s economic growth and success by Gross Domestic Production is no longer satisfactory and the Japanese first suggested the application of a new measure called “Inclusive growth” instead.

Last week, Chinese leader announced at the 5th APEC Human Resources Development Ministerial Meeting in Beijing that China will accept the inclusive growth as its major development indicator.

The inclusive growth means the delivery of economic growth fruits to all people from every social classes and further measuring the economic growth in relation to social progress.

There has been no occasional policy in China.

The Chinese leader’s announcement is the sign of China’s reform in its basic economic and social policies. Up to now, this nation has pursued Deng Xiaoping’s ideology “Let some people and some regions get rich first.” to make its economy open. Behind the country’s GDP which grew in two digits over the past three decades, there has been significant distinction in the outlook of regions and livelihood of population. Compared top ten percent of China’s population income against the bottom ten percent, the gap rate was 7.3 times in 1988 and in 2007 it reached 23 times, a Beijing University Professor Li Xi says.

There is a high probability that this gap rate is quite higher than in China. Our professors, scholars, researchers and statisticians may have own calculation and have their say. China has created infrastructure nationwide, providing all cities with modern system of road, lighting water and electricity and many big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin have become beautiful modern cities not worse than of any country of the world.

How it came that our population income gap is higher than in China when there has been almost no noticeable work done in terms of infrastructure of public utility in Mongolia? In other words, in China its wealthy people got rich by doing grandiose works and productions and conquering the world with their products, but why Mongolian rich people are getting wealthy when they created and produced almost nothing?

Ulaanbaatar City dives in smokes and dust, chokes over road traffic and its population on the verge of fleeing.

The main problem of our development is that only few people misuses the government power, seizes public properties and lands and that most of them get rich by depleting the mineral-rich land or reselling licenses at higher price, not producing any added value in the society.

Because only few people benefit from natural resources though the natural resource is the property of all people and economic growth do not affect all social classes, Mongolian government needs to pay special attention towards this change and trend emerging in global economic strategic policy. In order to development growth involves everything, every one must benefit from development fruits.

The government must make sure and guarantee that everyone has equal opportunity and rights to employment and education. If the gap between rich and poor would expand at current speed in Mongolia, then those people, who could not benefit from development, might seek for justice in their own ways and approaches, which could lead to social disorder.

It is time for the government to foresee all this and pay attention to granting the opportunity of getting involved in and benefiting from economic growth to every single person. Mongolia needs inclusive growth too.

Translated by P.Shinebayar

Friday, October 1, 2010

Crying Over Spilt Milk

UB Post

October 1st, 2010

Recently the head of the state professional inspection agency has announced on media that it has suddenly “learnt” that the pollution of Orkhon River is critical and that has “revealed” those guilty. Several companies like “Altan Dornod Mongolia”, “Mongol Gazar”, who mined gold in basins of Ul, Shiirt, Ulaan-chuluut and Ulziit rivers that flows into Orkhon River, has kicked away the ladder and had not taken any actions to rehabilitate the environment or at least repair garbage dam to stop water pollution. Thus, business operation licenses held by these companies will be annulled, said the Agency.

Further, the rehabilitation on the above mine sites will be carried by specialized companies at the government costs, after which the government costs will be compensated by the above guilty companies. The Government is about to approve such costs this week. It is like crying over spilt milk. This is just an example of how the Government fails to do its work. The Government of Mongolia has ceased listening to citizens and now serves not for people but for themselves. Either the officials in central and local governments have no knowledge and skills or they just pretend that they have them.

They inspect, suspend, extort and give to own people the activities associated with the business operation licenses only when they need or at any time they want, which disturbs the stability of Mongolian State. Firstly, Mongolian government does not listen to it citizens and serve only for those with money and wealth, regardless of nationality.

Mongolian people had been demanding the authorities take decisive actions by reminding and warning from very beginning that hundreds of rivers and lakes have polluted and perished, thousand hectares of forest and pastures have been destroyed and hundreds of families has left their native lands that lived for thousands of years in the process of exploitation of gold and other minerals. They shouted until they lost voices, but it was fruitless. The above case that has just been exposed by the professional inspection agency, had been reminded and warned by the people for fifteen years.

The Ongi River Movement was recognized and appreciated not by Mongolian government but by a prestigious international organization in overseas, which awarded the movement with the largest accolade in the world for grassroots environmentalists. Though inhabitants of Tsenkher Soum, Arkhangai Province had fought from the very beginning, the unaccountable government officials, who are obliged to obey to law ‘gave up’ to corruption and let inhabitants left only with ashy grass instead of beautiful river. It is sad that many places in our homeland are becoming just like moon surface. The Government decided that we, taxpayers, must pay for the rehabilitation costs of places, from which foreign and domestic barbarians left these places destroyed to dig gold.

Secondly, before issuing a mineral exploitation license, it should make sure that a fund for environmental rehabilitation is created from very beginning of exploitation.

Such funds are accumulated over many years and spent according to a definite plan. In case if the company is bankrupt or transfers its license to a third party, the purchased company will continue adding money to the fund and when the exploitation completes, the fund’s money is spent for rehabilitation. Industrialized countries require minimum difference when photos before and after exploitation are compared.

In our country, though the public institutions and agencies pass various regulations and normatives related to rehabilitation, they never implement them at any administrative level and now even say that “it is because of a deficiency in legal system” as if they don’t know about that. Only those who took minerals, must rehabilitate the nature they destroyed. Thirdly, when the government activities start to serve for a certain group of people, state controls and inspections are used only for trespassing others’ properties and for removing someone from a post, further deteriorating the principle that the state policy and its implementation must be stable and continued.

Once, the professional inspection agency dug up serious violations in activities of that times’ City administration and the Cabinet was about to discuss about defraud by city officials. This story ended up with the retirement of the Cabinet and the promotion of the city mayor to Prime Minister. Ongoing issue related to the chief of Anti-Corruption Authority might be same as this story.

All issues in Mongolia will depend on how the politicians would deal on with each other. Like this way, the government has become a tool to support political parties and misappropriate mineral resources of Mongolia in a way profitable only for few people. The government actions will never succeed without improving the accountability in government and correcting the above-mentioned three deficiencies and further affecting the country’s security. It is time for present and future politicians to re-think over these problems seriously.

Translated by Shinee