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132

BBC 07-07-98
REP: Communism collectivieed livestock ownership - now it is private and
families like Oralmaa's have set about expanding their herds:
tape band five
act. oralmaa, English translation as follows:
•If I compare our lives with the Lives of people who live la the city -I'm
aaieh better off. The income of tba family has increased a lot. our living
standard has improved, we have many animals. The animals are our investment i
our assets. People in the city don't have any assets and we didn't when we
lived there. Bach person in our family can now say they own many animals."
REP: There's milk and meat and money to be wade from animal husbandry. Cashm
- that's the fine and highly prized wool of goats - is considered the big
money-spinner because it's coveted in the west. Most Mongolians are trying tc
make the country and themselves rich on cashmere exports. But there' s a
downside to that dependence on livestock - there are now simply too many hea<
of cattle and sheep in the country - and pastures are getting overgrazed:
tape band six
act. gardner
•Overgrazing is particularly a problem around the market centres where cattl<
are being brought in for sale and there tends to be concentration around the
secondary cities • you have overgrazing, you run the risk of killing the gooi
that's laying the golden egg. Through overgraiing the rains come, you lose tJ
topsoil and in the next season you don't get any grass for the livestock to
graze on."
REP: The slow decline in the quality of pastures and therefore herds could ci
Mongolia dear. Now plans are afoot to improve productivity - to have fewer bi
only quality cashmere goats and perhaps even expand the frozen meat industry
which currently only manages to truck a few carcasses across the borders int<
China or Russia. But first there are are other hurdles to overcome:
tape band seven
act. debate in parliament over banking
REP: The critical banking debate in parliament broadcast live on Mongolian
radio stations - when Mongolia's state-run bank merged with a private one
earlier this year there were angry exchanges in parliament as opposition MPs
complained about corruption and nepotism. You might not think £o link this w
agriculture, but according to Douglas Gardner, reform of the banking sector
vital in easing the over-dependence on animals;
tape band eight
act. gardner
"As the banking system gets back on its feet - that will allow peopla to kec
wealth in a bank rather than trying to have more and more livestock as the
place where they put their wealth. I think all those things are linked and •
Mongolia grows and tne banking system gats back on its feet and people see t
bene£it from getting »»»*•< m™ productivity from each animal rather than sinpl
expanding the numbers of animals - tha overgrazing issue will ba addressed i
that fashion."
[bring in tape one band seven - act. of debate again - start fading up undez
gardnera last words, bring up and fade under reporter's next link.]
REP: These solutions are a long way off - Mongolian politicians are still ii
the throes of discussion about the country's future course. And though
Mongolians have averted starvation by going back to the land, they've had tc
change their diet and malnutrition among children is sixty per cent higher-
than it was under communism. Oralmaa and her daughters have chosen their wa j
life - and it'll be many years before they can afford to abandon it:
tape band nine
act. oralmaa, English translation as follows:
As far as my children are concerned - well, they'll probably both ba harden
because at this time in our country, salaries are very low in tha city even
you've graduated for college. But ay grandchildren - that might be differed
my husband and X are working hard to ensure my grandchildren's education - •
by then things might be different. It depends on the transition - whether i
leads to jobs in tha city or not - but for a few years at least its beat to
stay a harder.
133
-*

IPS 26 June 1998

LENGTH: 1053 words


HEADLINE: DEVELOPMENT-MONGOLIA: SPUTTERING ON FREE MARKET TRACK
BYLINE: By Suvendrini Kakuchi
DATELINE: ULAN BATOR, Jun. 25
BODY:
He lost his job three years ago and what he now makes from selling bedsheets and other work here in the
bustling capital of Mongolia is not even a third of what officials say a Mongolian family needs to live
decently.
But former driver Hatanbold considers himself luckier than most Mongolians who are still trying to
make sense of- as well as a living in - the country's fledgling market economy.
The former socialist country had taken a democratic turn in 1990, effectively ending the steady Soviet
support that had kept its economy going for 72 years. Other countries such as Japan and the United
States extended a hand as Mongolia struggled to keep on track while experimenting with a new
economic system.
It managed an economic spurt of 3.3 percent in 1997 while growth this year is expected to reach five
percent. But the east Central Asian country is still striving to keep inflation less than 20 percent.
It is also trying to avert social turmoil as the ranks of the unemployed swell -- more than 72.000 of a
total population of 2.4 million -- and contribute to a rising discontent.
Government reports say the number of poor families grew by 46,200 in 1997. At present nearly 588.000
people, or about a fourth of the population, eke out a miserable existence.
And until he got "lucky" two years ago. Hatanbold, who looks older than his 34 year's, was like most of
the people who were in shock with the chances brought about by the new economic system.
In 1995. Hatanbold had lost his old driver's job that, along with his education and health needs, he had
always taken for granted under the socialist system. He was jobless for a year until he joined the shop
and tailors project called Tsekh'.
The project began in 1996 with a loan of 800.000 tughriks (930 dollars) from a Poverty Fund offered
jointly by World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to improve living
standards in Mongolia.
A father of two children, Hatanbold earns 30.000 tughriks (about 34 dollars) a month that he says he
spends solely on his family.
Given the rising prices of daily commodities, though, his income may not be buying much. Economists
also reckon that for a Mongolian family to lead a comfortable life, its average monthly income should bo
200,000 tughriks ($ 232).
Bu: observers say Hatanbold is right in considering himself fortunate. After all, only a select few are
ch jsen as beneficiaries for the loans offered by the World Bank and UNDP. Indeed, only 25 out of an
average of 3,000 applicants are selected each year to avail of the loans.
Ten people, including women and the disabled, are involved in the project that brings them a steady
income through selling bedsheets and the 'del' (the traditional Mongolian garment) that they sew
themselves. They also run a tiny bakery on one side of the shop.
The group rents a dingy room - actually a renovated toilet -- in a crumbling grey building that is part of a
huge housing complex in the center of Ulan Bator. According to the project's figures, the workers spend
60 percent of their income on food and the rest on rent and their children's schooling.
The work schedules are rotated among the staff. That is why Hatanbold sometimes sews shirts, while
other days see him off to the Chinese border where he buys material for the sheets. There are also days
when he is in charge of selling the items made by the group.
(See next page)
134
*

"On a good day I sell between five and ten sheets," Hatanbold says, his wizened brown face breaking
into a rare smile. Those "special sales days" usually happen at the capital's open-air Black Market, w
hawkers do booming business selling anything from fashionable Chinese-made apparel to rotten appi
But with considerably cash-strapped shoppers always on the look-out for bargains, sellers like Hatard
have to employ much charm and patience for each single sale. To be sure, it is a far cry from the way
life Hatanbold and the rest of Mongolians had been used to, in which the state took care of things for
them.
Ironically, Mongolia itself seems to be having trouble practicing the same self-reliance it now expect:
its citizens.
Economist S. Nyamzagd, head of the Institute of Commerce says the country, which was left withoJ
industrial or commercial base or sophisticated infrastructure when the Russians left, remains heavily
reliant on foreign investment to improve the situation.
"The democratic government is desperately seeking foreign investment that will develop our
transportation, energy, post and communication sectors," he says. "Mongolia has vast untapped natu]
resources and can develop its farming and tourism industries."
Copper, cashmere and gold are still Mongolia's main sources of foreign currency. But revenue from
these commodities has taken a beating. World prices for copper and goatskin have plunged and the
national budget suffered a shortfall of more than 30 billion tughriks ($ 35 million) at the start of the
current year.
At the request of the Mongolian government, Japan provides 10 to 15 billion yen (no\\ just $ 69 to S
million) each year, making it the country's top donor. The assistance is geared toward improving
Mongolia's ageing infrastructure -- mostly related to transport and electricity, which analysts contem
only way of attracting foreign investment.
But Japanese business experts say the going for the country will not be easy. Landlocked, Mongolia
lacks a port and has a small population -- almost half of whom are herdsmen.
"Mongolia has to compete with countries like China and Vietnam for Japanese investment. Both the
countries have the advantages that Mongolia has not — sea ports and big populations." explains
Professor Shinichi Kobuchi, at Asia University in Tokyo.
Most Mongolians believe, however, that they are already on a modernization path thru does not lea'-
them much room to make a U-turn back to the old system.

And many of them are like Hatanbold, who is determined to make life better for his family despite
mounting odds. "Our lives after the old system broke down is hard," Hatanbold says softly, "but we
to do it or be left out of the outside world. We have to be strong and work hard for the next generatic

UNDP - US News for June 26 1998


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135

Far Eastern Economic Review 09-11-97

Enough Already! all tariff protection from domestic industries, sparking yet
Mongolia begins to chafe as free-market reforms bite more joblessness and paving the way for an environmen-
By Lincoln Kaye in Ulan Bator tally reckless rush to extract and export unprocessed raw
materials.
The government also nominally lowered tax rates but
(Copyright (c) 1997, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) stepped up enforcement so that middle-class Mongolians
Leaders of Mongolia 's ruling democratic coalition laid on — the democrats' natural constituents felt the tax bite as
a roasted goat to greet visiting U.S. Senator John McCain never before. Now parliament is mooting a regressive
on August 19. The feast celebrated the triumph of McCain's value-added tax to help ease its budgetary woes.
International Republican Institute, whose advice and as- That was the reform part. But the democrats forgot some
sistance helped the democrats sweep to an upset victory of their election pledges too. Early on, instead of passing
last year, ending 75 years of communist rule in Mongolia a laissez-faire press law as promised, the coalition purged
established journalists and packed newsrooms with their
But the event they were celebrating was more than a year own apologists. And as the economy soured, coalition
old, and much had happened in the interim to dampen politicians helped themselves to conspicuous perks of
spirits at the festivities. Just a day earlier, in fact, the office that even the communists had never dared flaunt.
democrats had been dealt a crushing blow in a crucial by- The democratic mayor of Ulan Bator, for instance, has
election in the mountainous western province of Zavkhan. taken to driving around town in an ostentatious limou-
Over the past year, the once-dominant communists have sine.
regained hold of the national presidency and most provin- To IRI's Mongolian programme director, Kirsten
cial and local governments. The Zavkhan rout wiped out Edmondston, the coalition's main problem is public rela-
the democrats' last hope of achieving a parliamentary tions. "They were great at getting their message across
quorum. before the 1996 election," she says. "But they just stopped
Mongolia's rightward lurch, which brought such high hopes explaining themselves to the people once in power."
in business circles last year, now looks on the brink of Alicia Campi, a former American diplomat who now runs
sputtering out. The democrats have managed to enact her own Mongolia -focused consultancy, suspects a
about half of their "Contract with Mongolia " — the busi- deeper problem. She says the Contract's free-market ten-
ness-friendly manifesto modelled overtly on the 1994 ets encouraging wealth accumulation and manipulating
Republican "Contract with America." But when the Mon- individual spending and saving decisions "might simply
golian parliament reconvenes in October after its current not hold true in Mongolia 's fundamentally nomadic
recess, two possibilities loom. One is gridlock; the other economy, where the concept of immovable property has
is a break-up of the democratic coalition and a new ma- little motivational force."
jority for a communist-led partnership. Either way, it looks Whatever their source, the problems have clearly reversed
like heavy weather ahead for the Contract and its reform- the democrats' fortunes. Within four months of capturing
ist agenda. parliament, the coalition lost a round of provincial and
That's unfortunate, say aid donors and foreign investors, county elections. Then, in May, the communist party
who still hail the Contract as a necessary, if painful, course chairman and Zavkhan member of parliament, N.
of action for a post-socialist economy and society. The Bagabandi, trounced a pro-democrat incumbent to become
problem: So far, the democrats' "shock therapy" has been Mongolia 's president.
far more shocking than therapeutic. "Real income for av- This office carries more than ceremonial status. A presi-
erage Mongolians has dropped by 30% in the one year dential veto of any legislation can only be overridden by a
since we've been in power," admits MP Baterdene twothirds majority of the 76-member parliament. Although
Batbayar, founding chairman of the Social Democratic the coalition has been one seat short of this mark since
Party. "If we don't make up these losses and reverse the the democrats' big victory, it didn't matter much when
trend, we'll be in trouble by the year 2000" when the cur- there was a compliant president in office. Now, all bets
rent parliamentary term ends. are off.
Of course, some of the problems were unavoidable. Within The only way to avoid gridlock would have been for the
a month of the 1996 election, world copper prices col- coalition to capture the last outstanding seat in parlia-
lapsed, wiping out a quarter of Mongolia 's state revenues ment — the one vacated in Zavkhan by the newly elected
and aborting the Contract's budget-balancing pledges. president. Instead, the communist candidate, N.
The new parliament quickly decontrolled all prices, trig- Enkhbayar, won 73% of the vote by offering himself as a
gering a sharp upturn in inflation: Prices have ballooned necessary check on the coalition's ruling majority.
by nearly 4% a month so far this year. Now, even that majority looks shaky. Before the by-elec-
The coalition also halved the number of government min- tion, Batbayar led his Social Democrats out of the coali-
istries, sending hordes of bureaucrats to join the swelling tion caucus to form a separate parliamentary faction. When
ranks of the unemployed, conservatively estimated at 28%
of the working-age population. Then the democrats stripped (See next page)
136

Far Eastern Economic Review 09-1


the house reconvenes, he says, "we'll see what posi-
tion the two other major parties take in light of the new
situation before deciding how to align ourselves." He
doesn't rule out the possibility of joining the commu-
nists.
The SDP holds 15 seats, which joined with the com-
munists' 25 would trump the National Democrats' 35.
Even if the current coalition manages to hang together,
the democrats could wind up bearing the blame for the
short-term woes of economic restructuring, and the
reinvigorated communists could recapture parliament
in 2000, just in time to reap the benefits. But IRI's
Edmondston ventures to hope that the communists
won't be too obstructionist even after their electoral tri-
umphs. "Now that they've won veto power over parlia-
ment, they'll have to assume joint responsibility for the
success of reforrr?," she predicts.
Whatever turn the new parliamentary alignment takes,
Batbayar is confident that reform will still go on. "None
of the parties contemplate a retreat from political and
economic liberalization," he says. "The differences be-
tween us are only tactical, a question of pace."
The public may have other ideas, though, according to
Dashbalbar Ochirbat, a communist-leaning independ-
ent MP. He predicts massive anti-"shock therapy" pro-
tests this winter, bigger than the 1989 demonstrations
that set the communists on the path to political plural-
ism. "The people's suffering has grown too grave to
endure in silence any more," he declares. "I stand ready
to lead them to national renewal."

(See related letter: "LETTERS Mongolia 's Up There,


Really" PEER Oct. 23,
1997)
137

International Herald Tribune 25-06-98


A Mongolian Shopping Spree Fizzles recorders and other items impossible to get under the
Thursday June 25,1998 country's previous Soviet-style economic regime.
By Thomas Crampton International Herald Tribune
"We have got so many new Korean products now," said
ULAAN BAATAR, Mongolia - Asia's economic crisis Nyama, a student at the Economics University here. She
meant bargain shopping for some Mongolian consum- has made two shopping trips to Seoul since December.
ers.
Buying 10 Hewlett-Packard laser printers for $250 each,
They surged abroad on their first Western-style spend- she resold them in Mongolia for twice the price.
ing spree, bringing back planeloads of South Korean
goods and buying four-wheel-drive vehicles from deal- For many Mongolians, the last few months have been
ers here. their first taste of consumer culture. One of the poorest
countries in the world, the average annual cash income
Now comes the hangover. is little more than $360.

The spending binge has ended with a national banking Landlocked between Siberia and northern China, this
crisis as the Mongolian government discovered that no country of 2.5 million people is still making the difficult
Asian nation is too remote to escape the region's eco- transition from a Soviet-style command economy to capi-
nomic downturn. talism.

"Myself, I thought we were an isolated economy, but For more than 60 years, Mongolia was in effect a colony
this shows how we are all inter-related," Finance Minis- of the Soviet empire, receiving massive economic sub-
ter B. Batbayar said in an interview on Wednesday, sidies while selling copper and other natural resources in
adding that the crisis would not slow down liberalization return.
of his country's economy.
Vestiges of this Soviet-era economy, including a lack of
Banks made too many loans for the purchase of foreign financial understanding and an overdependence on com-
consumer goods, helping lead to a rise in bad loans and modities, have combined with Asia's sharp economic
the recent collapse of the state-owned Bank of Recon- downturn to drive Mongolia into a private and public sec-
struction and Development. tor crisis, Mr. Batbayar said.

For nearly a year after currency turmoil swept across The state-owned Bank of Reconstruction and Develop-
Asia, Mongolia's tugrik held a steady value against the ment had been under investigation since February and
dollar, while the price of copper, the country's largest banned from further lending, but it continued extending
export, rose by nearly 10 percent last year. credit worth 4 billion tugrik until the government forced it
to merge with the privately-owned Golomt Bank early this
On the strength of their currency, Mongolian consum- month.
ers began a spending binge in January in crisis-hit South
Korea, where the won had plunged against the dollar. Opposition members of Parliament have alleged corrup-
tion in the deal, highlighting the bank's continued lending
The number of flights to Seoul increased to three per as well as the tight connections between the Golomt
week from the normal one and, according to Mr. Bank's president and the prime minister's party.
Batbayar, virtually every aircraft was full of bargain hunt-
ers. At the same time, as Mongolians began trading tugriks
for foreign consumer goods, the value of the country's
Travelers returned with their baggage full of cheap con- exports collapsed due to falling prices for copper, gold
sumer goods. Then a new Daewoo car dealership and cashmere.
opened here, sending late-model off-road vehicles pour-
ing onto the dusty streets of Ulaan Baatar. Largely attributed to Asia's economic slowdown, copper
prices fell 23 percent in the first four months of this year.
The country's banks helped pay for the shopping expe-
ditions, extending loans worth 15 billion tugriks during Combined with increased overseas spending, the export
the first four months of the year. slowdown sent Mongolia's trade balance spiraling into a
deficit of $72 million for the first four months of this year.
Along Peace Avenue, the capital's main commercial
street, shops opened over the last few months selling
microwave ovens, videocassette (See next page)
138
, - ,
International Herald Tribune 25-06-9
That compares with a surplus of $10 million for the same
period last year.

The currency has come under tremendous pressure, forc-


ing the central bank to spend 15 percent of its reserves
since May propping up the currency at the twice-monthly
foreign currency auctions, Mr. Batbayar said.

Reserves now stand at $80 million, he added.

The falling copper prices are also slashing the already strained
government budget. The state-owned Erdenet Copper Corp.
supplies nearly a quarter of the Mongolian government's
revenue.

This year's budget was planned on a world copper price of


$2,100 per ton but the price has now fallen to nearly $1,600

Erdenet's difficulties have created a dangerous debt chain,


Mr. Batbayar said, noting that the mining company has been
unable to pay electricity its bills.

The company currently consumes approximately 30 percent


of the country's total energy.

"We must privatize Erdenet soon because the state's budget


should not depend on one company alone; it would be better
to earn it collecting taxes," the finance minister said, add-
ing that the sell-off would take place by the year 2000.

Despite the looming crisis, Mr. Batbayar remained optimis-


tic about the progress of the Mongolian economy. "Our for-
eign reserves were zero between 1990 and 1994, so to have
nearly $100 million now is quite an achievement," he said.
139

San Francisco Chronicle 06-01-99


In Mongolia, nomads leave 20th century behind for pas- Some aid workers believe Mongolia's large rural popula-
toral life tion has played a vital role in cushioning the shock of
JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press Writer change. People in Ulan Bator and impoverished provin-
cial towns have been able to get meat from relatives in
the countryside, keeping them from going hungry in hard
times.
(01-06) 01:38 EST HURANDEL HILLS, Mongolia (AP) —
The wan winter sun dipped and died on the frozen horizon, Tsagaan said his life has neither improved nor worsened
losing its vain struggle to warm Mongolia's icy steppe. since the end of communist rule. The 15 sheep and goats
Wind-whipped twists of snow pirouetted in the deepening he bought in 1992 have grown to a flock of more than
twilight. 100. His $17 state pension buys flour for his family of
seven children, many of whom live and study in Zuunmod.
But in the toasty confines of Tsagaan's yurt, heartwarm-
ing talk of family and the future mixed with the aroma of "We don't eat twice, but we don't sleep without eating,"
boiling horse meat. he said.

Shielded from the cold by the thick, felt walls of his circu- That night, supper was soft-boiled chunks of horse meat
lar, tent-like home, the 67-year-old glowed with pride as with potatoes and flat steamed bread, cooked on an iron
his eldest son explained why he decided to follow his fa- stove fueled with dried dung.
ther and take up life on the steppe.
Tsagaan fished out a long pipe tucked down the front of
"To live as free as a nomad is very exciting," Aryuntor said one of his calf-length boots, packed it with tobacco and
with wide-eyed conviction. "This endless land and free- lit it through the stove door, bathing the yurt in warm,
dom really attracts me." orange light and sending puffs of sweet-smelling smoke
into the air.
While millions of farmers elsewhere search for new lives in
cities, Aryuntor — whose name means "Holy State" - is Aryuntor said his parents would buy a new yurt for him
heading the other way. He is swapping the comforts of and his future wife, who teaches dance in Zuunmod. Her
town for a pastoral existence that in some ways is little parents will buy the furniture. They will place the yurt,
changed from when Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan cre- which two people can erect in two hours, next to his
ated one of the world's largest empires 800 years ago. father's and raise their herds together. Eventually, he
hopes to buy a generator, refrigerator and television for
Aryuntor is not alone. One-third of Mongolia's 2.4 million their movable home.
people live as nomads or in small hamlets in the plains,
mountains and deserts of this landlocked country more But first, Aryuntor said he must perfect his nomad skills.
than twice the size of Texas. Some figures indicate that He said he still has much to learn about breaking in young
unlike many other countries, the rural population is grow- horses, how not to overgraze pasture, and how to bed
ing in Mongolia. down animals and make sure they eat enough salt.

In Aryuntor's case, hard economic realities, not just a love "Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is hard. But be-
of the open plains, drove him out of town. cause my father is experienced, I am learning the diffi-
The 25-year-old plans to marry next year. He said the $28 culties. There are many things I don't know," he said.
monthly salary he earned as a dance teacher in Zuunmod,
a town 15 miles from the snow-swept hills where his fa- While he sometimes longs for town, country living has
ther's yurt is pitched, could not support his future family, its compensations, he said.
even with a sideline business sewing clothes and boots.
"I would like to see my friends, talk, have a party. I miss
"It wasn't really working, so I chose to be a nomad," he those kind of things," he said.
said. "I didn't want my wife to suffer because I didn't have
enough money. I didn't want my kids to go hungry." But "here you have boundless space, with fresh air. I
feel happy when I have the precious moment of getting
Many have felt the pinch since Mongolia threw off authori- up in the morning and tending my horses, and seeing the
tarian communist rule in 1990 and began embracing mar- sunset. You can never experience this in the city," he
ket reforms. Poverty and unemployment have increased. added.
A gap between rich and poor has left street kids in Ulan
Bator, the capital, shivering in underground heating ducts
while the newly wealthy parade around in plush cars.
140

Time Magazine Asia 09-01-97


Time #3 9/1/97 Time Asia former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and a Re-
publican Party think tank. The democrats promised vot-
ASIA ers a Mongolian Contract centered on selling off state-run
businesses, many of which were on the verge of collapse
Mongolian Rhapsody after Soviet subsidies ended.

A new kind of entrepreneur leads the charge to rev up Tsatsral and Tsengun were the first to close a deal. With
the former communist nation's ailing the backing of a Czech company, they bought the govern-
economy ment's 51% share of Altan Taria for $1 million—the aver-
age yearly profits of the mill.
BY ANTHONY SPAETH "This is a great opportunity," she says. "It's a guaranteed
market."
In Mongolia, a national delicacy is horhog, a goat stuffed But the deal had some stringent conditions.
with heated rocks that cook it from within. The usual ac- Tsatsral promised to replace the venerable Russian equip-
companiment is bread or doughy dumplings, made from ment, at a cost of more than $5 million, and not to reduce
flour that might very well have been supplied by Tsatsral, the 260-member workforce. "I found that there were 60
one of Mongolia's busiest entrepreneurs. mechanics," she says.
In February, Tsatsral and her husband Tsengun (like many "Which explains why this old equipment worked so well."
Mongolians, they use only one name) took over Allan Taria,
one of the country's largest flour mills, and moved into Enkhbat is a computer engineer educated in the Russian
the executive suite with a portrait of Lenin mounted on the cities of Yekaterinburg and Moscow. In the 1980s, he had
wall. "We haven't had time to redecorate," says Tsatsral, a contract to run the Mongolian government's mainframe
who keeps a copy of Margaret Thatcher's memoirs near computer in Ulan Bator, but when subsidies from Moscow
her desk. "When we do, we'll get rid of Lenin." ended, his contract was canceled. "I
wondered what I would do," he says. "I had no idea."
Getting rid of Lenin has been a strain for all the former Enkhbat and 20 colleagues took advantage of an early
countries of the Soviet empire. Mongolia, which in 1924 privatization scheme that distributed vouchers in public
became the world's second communist state after Rus- companies to the Mongolian population. They amassed
sia, has had an especially tough time. Communists con- enough vouchers to take over their enterprise, renamed it
tinued running the government until last year; their eco- DataCom and, with a $60,000 grant from a Canadian aid
nomic reforms were both painful and incomplete. About organization, started an Internet service provider.
one-third of the workforce is unemployed, and the coun- They now have 1,000 subscribers and dreams of hooking
try's most important resource remains its 28.5 million up the most remote areas of the country.
goats, sheep, cattle, horses and camels. The human popu-
lation is only 2.4 million. The new government, led by Prime Minister
M.Enkhsaikhan, has taken heat for its reformist policies,
But a new herd is massing in Mongolia, composed of hun- which have yet to translate into substantially better eco-
gry entrepreneurs. The thunder of their ambition can be nomic growth figures.
heard nightly in Ulan Bator, the capital, where a lively night- In May, Bagabandi, a former communist, was elected
club scene has erupted, replete with rock bands and mini- President; though the democrats still control parliament,
skirted ladies of the night. Daylight exposes a they are one vote short of overriding a presidential veto.
Stalinistically planned city of new cafes, tailor's shops "Things aren't so good now," concedes Enkbold, 31, chair-
and beauty parlors. "When you look at Mongolia, sure, the man of the government's privatization committee. "It's a
macroeconomic indicators aren't showing any progress," real difficult process, this transition. But in two to ten years,
says Jim McCracken, economic and consular officer at things will be good."
the U.S. Embassy in Ulan Bator. "But when you walk down
the street, you see new businesses starting up every day. Some in Mongolia don't have to wait that long. Tulga, a
That says something good." carpenter, decided last year that his $200 monthly salary
from the U.S. Embassy in Ulan Bator was not enough. He
The new Mongolia is a strange, ever-evolving land. The and several friends raised $3,000, borrowed an equal
widespread religion, a Tibetan-type of Buddhism, is reviv- amount from a bank and persuaded a friend to donate an
ing, along with a reverence for Genghis Khan, the 13th empty apartment for conversion into a cafe. Getting the
century conqueror whose cult was suppressed by the proper permits was the most arduous task; Tulga's wife
Soviets for decades (Khan's face now graces the cur- had to sew him a suit for his endless calls on officials.
rency, displacing a Soviet-era revolutionary hero). The The Donna Cafe opened last fall. It has only two tables
country's historical isolation is breaking down fast: the and a bar, serving plenty of drinks and simple Mongolian
traditional evening entertainment of slurping fermented fare. "People have more money," Tulga says, himself in-
mare's milk in a neighbor's tent has given way to nights in cluded. Tulga and his partners now make an extra $65 a
front of a television set-Baywatch is a hit—with a six- month each.
pack of Coca-Cola. Elections were introduced in 1990,
and last summer a pro-reform democratic government was -Reported by Leah Kohlenberg/Ulan Bator
voted to power after getting campaign advice from both
141

M' • •
IRISH TIME'S
* TRAINING
FINANCE J Thursday, September 24,1998

Asian crisis has already


cost over 10 million jobs
By Padraig Yeates, Industry and Employment
Correspondent

Ten million workers have lost their jobs already this year as
a result of the financial crisis in the Far East and "millions
more" will do so by the end of the year, according to the
International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The ILO's World Employment Report for 1998 also says a


third of the world's workforce of three billion remains either
unemployed or underemployed. One striking feature of
international employment trends is the rapid growth in
female participation in the workforce in all regions.
However, much of this continues to be in part-time
employment.

This year's report contrasts sharply with last year's edition,


which predicted substantial employment growth.

It shows that Ireland's unemployment has been felling faster


than that of any other OECD country, while increases in
real wages have been about average for this group of
developed economies. The report says that the
competitiveness of OECD countries has improved
significantly because of low commodity prices.

However, it also says that these prices reduce demand in


developing countries, as well as the ability of governments
and commercial sectors in these regions to improve
productivity.

It warns that deflation, which could spread rapidly from the


Far East to other parts of the world, would have a

(See next page)


142

The Irish Times 24-09-98

particularly harsh impact on the developing world.

Asian economies in transition to a market economy, such as


China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Mongolia, will face
huge unemployment problems "because of their vast
amount of excess labour in state and collective enterprises".

The report warns that in other Asian countries the "financial


crisis has shown the costs of neglecting social concerns.
The pace of globalisation has been primarily driven by
market forces, and the national, and to some extent
international rules, institutions and practices needed to
render its consequences socially acceptable have been
insufficiently developed.

"Even the high-income East Asian countries are ill-prepared


to cope with their own labour displacement in a socially
acceptable manner, since they hardly felt the need to build
up the necessary agencies and practices."

One lesson that had emerged from the current crisis was the
"volatility of especially short-term capital flows; these can
act as a strong force triggering a currency crisis, especially
in over-indebted economies with fragile banking systems".
The report says the slight recovery in the Russian economy
will be wiped out by "recent turmoil" in the financial
markets.

The crisis in the Far East also threatens the recovery of


traditionally depressed regions like South America and, of
course, Africa. In Africa, the growth rates of many countries
were rising by between 5 and 6 per cent last year because of
good harvests, improved export prices and structural
reforms.

Traditionally one of the worst regions for unemployment,


production growth is still making little impact on
employment

The ILO is a UN-sponsored body through which the world's


governments, trade unions and employer bodies agree
international conventions on employment.
143

International Herald Tribune 23-07-98


Model City of the Soviet Era could offer.
Changes Its Plan
High-rise buildings grew out of the Mongolian steppes. Near
Taking a Steppe Back / Mongolians Return them, factories poured forth cement, well-made leather coats
to Traditional Nomadism and canned meat.

23/07/98 Centrally planned down to the smallest detail, Darkhan's resi-


dential area is built upwind of the industrial zone to protect it
By Thomas Crampton International Herald Tribune from air pollution.

DARKHAN, Mongolia - It took peculiar logic, residents of Buses carried workers on a specially built highway to the
this city say, to erect high-rise towers in the middle of the factories at dawn and dropped them off each evening in front
Mongolian wilderness. of one of the two stores that the city's 60,000 residents used.

There is no obvious reason for Darkhan to exist. There is no The apartments included luxuries unheard of in the harsh
confluence of rivers, unique natural resource or object of Mongolian wilderness: indoor plumbing, electricity, central
religious pilgrimage. heating and special plugs in each room for a radio tuned to
the government station.
But at a site selected seemingly at random among thousands
of featureless hills, the best and the brightest Soviet engi- Now, with the markets of the Soviet world no longer buying
neers transformed this minor railway stop near the Siberian Mongolia's products, virtually all the factories in the indus-
border into Mongolia's trial zone have gone bust.
second-largest city and a paragon of industrial socialism.
Confronted with this new economic reality, Darkhan's resi-
Now, with the collapse of the Soviet system that supported it, dents are physically destroying the city's once highly regi-
Darkhan is stuck with a painful transition from socialism to mented order. Nomadic
capitalism that the governor hopes to cushion with the indig- herdsmen graze animals in the formerly protected city parks
enous economic model: and a market now thrives in the suburbs.
nomadism.
The two government shops have lost most of their clientele
"We are encouraging people to leave their apartments, buy to small wooden kiosks that have popped up amid the apart-
animals and go live in yurts," said V. Vandansuren, go>*ernor ment blocks. Some wealthier shop owners have started smash-
of Darkhan. Yurts are traditional felt-covered Mongolian tents. ing the walls down between ground floor apartments to cre-
•'There is just no way for so many people to live in this city ate enlarged shops.
the way it was designed."

In the last year, the government spent 40 million tugriks WITH few housing regulations enforced, residents with a
($47,000) on training 250 families and supplying them with mind to barbecue meat in the traditional style simply stoke
seed so they could grow crops. Several new companies sell their fire and shove a pipe into an air duct to vent the smoke,
yurts to those leaving their apartments. thus sending the scent of mutton wafting throughout the
building.
"People are so confused with the new system, but I explain
to them that it costs less to live in a yurt," Mr. Vandansuren To earn money, many have turned to trade.
said. "You can feed yourself on herd animals and heat the
yurt with dried manure." Ever since he lost his job at the state construction company
in 1992, C. Lkhagvasuren has sold a green homemade soft
Mongolia, like other Soviet nations in the Soviet bloc, re- drink during the summer months and invested his profits,
ceived massive assistance to create national road and tel- with friends' money, in used cars from Europe.
ephone networks, hospitals, schools and factories. But the
return of Darkhan to traditional agriculture ends a 40-year "There are many difficult times during the drive when you
experiment, which was blessed in person by the Soviet leader must pay bribes to Russian police," Mr. Lkhagvasuren said
Leonid Brezhnev, to bring nomadic herdsmen into modern of the 18-day drive back across Siberia. "But this new eco-
apartment blocks and a socialist mentality. nomic system allows me to show my ability."

Prize-winning architects and thousands of foreign experts The 30-vehicle caravans of used Fords, Nissans and BMWs
were drafted from Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia
and Hungary to build the finest factories the Soviet world (See next page)
144

International Herald Tribune 23-07-98

reap profits of nearly $1,000 per car, he said.

Many who have not taken up the so-called "suitcase busi-


ness" of petty trade leave the model city to return to the life of
nomadic herdsmen.

L. Bayaubajav, 58, was a medal-winning worker in Darkhan's


model food-processing factory for two decades, until 1990,
when he was forced to return to his ancestral occupation of
herdsman.

"There is fresh air and freedom out here. I don't miss anything
about living in an apartment in the city," said Mr. Bayaubajav,
who now lives an hour's drive outside Darkhan. "I started
here with one cow, and now I have 10, along with 40 sheep and
10 horses."

A few minutes away live J. Altan-od and B. Mart, both 22, who
married and moved into a yurt after having spent their entire
lives in the city and without any knowledge of caring for ani-
mals.

"It was very difficult to begin with," Mr. Altan-od said. "You
can't see your friends and don't have any place to go out in
the evening." Arriving at the start of the harsh Mongolian
winter, the couple lasted five months in a grandfather's yurt
before selling half their cows to buy a wooden house.

Despite the hardships imposed on people by the rapidly col-


lapsing economy, virtually all Darkhan's residents, including
expatriate Russians specialists stripped of former privileges,
sounded glad that communism had fallen.

"Under the old system, Russians had good jobs, saunas, a


tennis court and billiards tables, but we could not even talk to
the Mongolians," said Ludmila Voronkina, a Russian nurse
who came to Darkhan a decade ago. "Now my son speaks
Mongolian, and everyone in our family has Mongolian friends."
145
mi.

International Herald Tribune 08-04-98


Chinese Look to Their Neighbors for New Opportunities to ern struggle for power in Central Asia.
Trade
A decade ago, almost no trade and investment came to Mon-
08/04/98 golia from China. Since opening up in 1991, Mongolia's trade
By Thomas Crampton International Herald Tribune with China has grown to $250 million in 1997. Mongolia's ex-
ports to China rose 24 percent in the first three months of this
ULAAN BAATAR, Mongolia - A prolonged period of regional year compared with the same period last year.
peace, combined with the collapse of the Soviet Union, has
brought sharp shifts of trade patterns along the borders of Bv some estimates, China now buys nearly half of every-
China. thing Mongolia exports, including copper sent for accounting
reasons through Switzerland.
Relaxed restrictions have paved the way for Chinese traders to
sell a flood of cheap goods to such poor and formerly isolated As foreign investors, the Chinese, with 260 joint ventures
neighbors as Burma, Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam. in production of clothes an ' milk and in the construction in-
dustry, now outnumber all other natio1 alities.
Consumers snap up inexpensive Chinese-made building mate-
rials and plastic shoes, but many living along the edge of the The strongest effect of Chinese businesses is being felt in
world's most populous nation remain wary of ulterior motives. the cashmere and textiles industries. Mongolian cashmere fac-
tory owners complain that the more pro-active Chinese trad-
' 'Why do the Chinese come here?" asked R. Munkbat, a trader ers buy up the raw goats fur and refine it in China at lower
running a small shop in the Mongolian capital that sells soap, cost.
soft drinks and other household goods, including some from
China. "China is so big that I am sure they want to try to take "I just cannot compete with them on their tight margins,"
over Mongolia again." a cashmere p.ocessor said at a recent investors conference in
Ulaan Baatar.
To China's south, recent treaties with Burma have ended years Government officials also allege that Chinese traders
of bloody fighting and resulted in thriving trade and casino are taking advantage of low tariffs accorded Mongolia through
businesses along the border. But a distaste for the new trade is its membership in the World Trade Organization. Although no
emphasized by merchants who complain about an onslaught new factories have been built in Mongolia, the country's
of low-priced, inferior-quality goods and an often-repeated textile exports more than doubled in the first quarter of this
story that Burma's dogs and cats were being exported to China yearto 10 billiontugricks ($12.2 million)from4.8 billion tugriks
for food. for the same period last year.
' 'Trade can be good, but we must be careful with China
In Vietnam, a traditional enemy of China, Hanoi has frequently and be certain that rules are established," an adviser to Mon-
griped that China is undermining the country's economy with golia's prime minister said.
an invasion of cheap exports. Along the Chinese border in Buna's Shan State, local
merchants and former rulers of the northern states also fear
In Mongolia's case, suspicion of China is deep and historic. the consequences of open trade with their gigantic neighbor.
The 19th century domination by Beijing that ended with the "We're the next Tibet," a prominent hereditary ruler
integration of Nei Monggol, or Inner Mongolia, into China of Shan province told a visitor, describing s flood of traders
remains a more bitter memory than the recently ended 70 years and lengthy convoys of Chinese trucks carrying away Bur-
of Soviet-backed dictatorship. ma's tropical forest.

Wary of Mongolian sensibilities, Chinese business executives


tend to keep a low profile, but Beijing has been actively court-
ing the government. Since 1991, China's president, prime min-
ister, speaker of Parliament, foreign minister and the son of the
late leader Deng Xiaoping have all visited Mongolia.

The concrete result of this increased interaction is a treaty that


completely opens the border between China and Mongolia for
at least 30 days a year.

Beijing's friendship offensive comes as cash-strapped Mos-


cow is unable to keep up a Soviet-era level of influence in
Ulaan Baatar. Diplomats describe the shift of influence in Mon-
golia from Moscow to Beijing as the eastern fringe of the mod-
146

Associated Press 13-01-99


Shaken by economic changes, some Mongolians take to security." He has appeared on TV and radio to appea
drink moderation and plans to submit an amended law against <
holism to parliament shortly.
Associated Press
Hashbat Hulan, a legislator who has called for a state
January 13,1999 nopoly on alcohol production to raise government revei
Web posted at: 1:46 AM EST (0646 GMT) said half of Mongolian adults drink too much.

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia (AP) — It's 10:30 p.m., and Ulan "Mongolians are swimming in an ocean of vodka," the n
Bator's drunks are howling. Out of their mind on cheap liquor, paper UB Post said in a recent article. "It destroys familie
they rant and rattle the iron bars of a police cell. The stink of orphans children."
vodka and unwashed bodies hangs heavy in the air.
By 10:30 on a recent Friday night, the holding tank a
Some are professional men. Others are youngsters, caught Chingeltei District Police Station held 28 people in a re
for getting rowdy in bars. Many are unemployed or poor — cells, each locked with a shiny new padlock. A man in a s
the underclass that has suffered most from Mongolia's switch coat slept outside on the floor of a reception area.
to democracy and a market economy.
One officer shoved a drunk hard as he led him to the cells
In the nine years since popular protests helped end authori- man lost his unsteady footing on the slippery flooi
tarian communist rule, Mongolia has seen once empty shops slammed head first into a wood-paneled wall. Two other
fill with food and goods. An emerging private economy is ers cuffed a drunk who was slow to undress in preparatic
creating new jobs. Restaurants and bars are springing up the cold shower sometimes given to sober people up.
across Ulan Bator, the capital. Entrepreneurs cruise the city
in their own cars and chat on mobile phones. Police who pick drunks up off the street probably save
lives. Winter temperatures plunge below zero, and of
But for many people, change has been brutal. The closure sometimes stumble across people who have frozen to c
and privatization of state firms put many out of work. Poverty the captain said.
has increased and a gap has opened between rich and poor.
The psychological pressures of adapting to the vagaries of "It's very cold. It's very risky for the drunks," he said.
the market after seven decades of a state-commanded
economy are taking their toll. In summer, drunk people sometimes fall into rivers and d
Davaasuren added.
The result, police and legislators say, has been an outbreak
of alcohol abuse in a country that traditionally espoused so- Part of the problem is bad alcohol. A genuine bottle of'
briety. costs the equivalent of S2.40. while smuggled alcoh<
moonshine sell for as little as 35 cents a bottle.
"This transition is very abrupt. There is a lot of unemploy-
ment. They have lost hope, so they seem to find comfort in After po lice bring people in. a doctor checks to see how
drink," said Davaasuren, a police captain who, like many they are. Those at risk of alcohol poisoning, or injure!
Mongolians, uses only one name. fights or frostbite, are taken to a hospital.

"The transition has put too much pressure on people's men- Those not considered a danger to themselves or other
tality," he said in an interview occasionally interrupted by be allowed to go home if relatives pick them up. The n
slurred yells from a drunken woman brought in by patrolling stripped and left in cells with a blanket and tea or jukes
officers and left slumped against a wall of the police station. until morning.

Some longtime foreign residents say alcohol abuse seems People used to drink under communism, too. Damson
less widespread than the toughest years immediately after But back then, police would phone the offices of peopj
Mongolia's switch to democracy, when drunks were often picked up, causing them to be demoted, lose pay or pi
seen slumped on sidewalks. their jobs.
These days, police prefer to take people home if ihey i
But Davaasuren, who oversees a network of seven holding too drunk, the captain said.
tanks across the capital for drunks picked up by police, thinks
the problem is getting worse. As he spoke, another officer phoned the parents of two
Officers made 56,852 detentions for drunkenness in 1997, he men picked up after a bar owner called to complain.
said or a little over 150 a day in a city of 650,000 people.
"We were just drinking." one of the youths pleaded.'
Theft, rape, murder and other crimes committed under the call my home," he said. "I want to go home myself."
influence of alcohol are rising. "Most of the crimes are com-
mitted by people who are drunk," Davaasuren said. Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights re
This material may not be published, broadcast rewi
Mongolia's president, Natsagiin Bagabandi, said experts have redistributed.
identified alcohol abuse as "a potential threat to the national
147

INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY


Mongol Messenger 15-10-97

Survey indicates healthy media


A total of 89 were Iiste4 by re- cent) stating that they watched tele-
COMMUNICATIONS spondents in the survey and the vision, at least one programme, ev-
daily Ardyn Erkh (People's Right) ery evening.
The results of Mongolia's first was the most popular. Some 26 per cent of those sur-
media survey .were published this The survey report emphasised veyed watched UBTV and local
month by the Press Institute of that considering Mongolia's vast TV, 19.1 per cent watched Chan-
Mongolia. territory, poor infrastructure (trans- nel 25,8.7 per cent watched Eagle
Financed by the Soros Founda- port and telecommunications), TV, 14 percent watched SansarTV
tion, the survey of 567 people from small population and scattered and other Cable channels.
19 aimags and cities was carried settlements, the fact that 395 The research indicated that ur-
out by Erich Mustafa, a United Na- people (91 per cent) of all news- ban Mongolians watched more
tions Volunteer (UNV) working at paper readers read Ardyn Erkh television, while those in rural ar-
the institute. consistently was "successful". eas listened more to the radio.
Some 433 respondents (76.3 After Ardyn Erkh, the newspa- Those between 31-40 years lis-
per cent) said that they read news- pers Zasgyn Gazryn Medee (Gov- tened to Mongol Radio and those
papers, but that after reading they ernment News), Onoodor (Today), in the 21-30 age bracket listened
passed the newspapers on to oth- Nyam Garig (Sunday), and Nugel to FM 102.5 and JAAG radio.
ers. Buyan (Sin and Virtue) were listed. About 83 per cent (288) of
The survey indicated that the The survey showed that televi- Mongolians surveyed daily radio
most active reader age group was sion was more popular than radio, listeners primarily listened to
that of 31-40 year olds. with 423 respondents (74.6 per

Mongol Messenger 24-02-99

New media law faces


escalating criticism Dashdondov has also attacked fought Undesnii Erkh's attempt to
By B. Indra the Parliament group working on hang onto the subscriber list of its
the media, calling their work un- predecessor Ardyn Erkh.
The January 1 law which freed satisfactory." To counteract this, he If the temporary committee
all forms of media from state says, a temporary committee of determines that the law is not be-
hands has been lauded as one of media workers has been estab- ing followed strictly, it will choose
the great achievements of lished. The committee has kept up an alternative form of protest,
Mongolia's young democracy. a steady stream of letters to MP's, which it did not specify.
But its implementation process criticizing the media law and its "There is no press freedom if
has been less than satisfactory, ac- implementation. journalists live in corruption, pov-
cording to Ts. Dashdondov, the But hot all is for the worse, erty or fear," said Dashdondov.
President of the Mongolian Free Dashdondov lauds the recent de- "The free press cannot develop if
Democratic Journalists Associa- cision to privatise both Zuuny the old newspapers keep their old
tion. He says the new media law Medee and Undesnii Erkh. 60 per- structure."
is a shambles, both slow and inef- cent of the papers will be sold at "According to the Mongolian
fective. auction and 40 percent sold to the tradition, Mongolians never build
"There is fighting between the staff. a new ger on the basement of an
old and new media systems," he The two national papers have old ger. The time of state mo-
says. been a heavy source of contro- nopoly newspapers is over and it
Dashdondov complains that versy since January 1, when they is time for free press. Free media
journalists are not united ~ the re- were to be stripped of their gov- is not a gift that government gives.
sult of old communist party hacks ernment status. Private newspa- It can only be established with a
at odds with a nascent army of pers complained that the both pa- hard fight. It will be a hard and
young journalists following a new pers maintained advantages. Some long battle."
school of journalism.
Older media workers are try-
ing to hold onto their old jobs, as
well as their state status and mo-
nopoly. He notes that the past five
years has shown improvements in
media reform, but says an uphill
battle still rages.
"There are a lot of enemies of
the free media, some just can't
progress. This proves how fragile
our democracy is. I don't even
know if this really is a democracy.
And it is a shame that foreigners
think we have a democracy. They
believe the lies our leaders tell
them," he says.
148
*

>irn
/ TI l i

Internet-surfing Mongolians embrace new technology


ULAN BATOR, April 13 (AFP) - Mongolia is one of Asia's poorest countries, but
it is embracing new technology with enthusiasm as Internet cafes spring up and
personal computers arrive in some private homes.
Mongolia got its first Internet service provider, Datacom, in 1996 - the same year
it elected its first post-communist government. Since January, two new rivals have
arrived on the scene.
"The level of computer knowledge in Mongolia is rising," said Dolgor Bat-Erdene,
manager of the computer system for Mongol News Company, a news organization
in the capital, Ulan Bator.
"There are more young people who can use the Internet and are getting access to
information through this means."
That is good news for the Mongolian government, which hopes the country's youth
~ 60 percent of the population is under 25 -- combined with a literacy rate of over
90 percent will prove the key to development.
Government officials speak of creating a nation of multilingual, sophisticated
computer users, despite the country's plunging export earnings and decimated
manufacturing sector.
The United Nations has even spoken of Mongolia emulating the "Irish miracle" -
in which an agricultural country bypasses industrialization to become a high-tech
hotbed.
"Mongolians have a knack for learning things," said Atsushi Yamanaka, who
works on an information technology project for the UN Development Programme
"And information can be a shorter way to develop the country "
But there are formidable obstacles in the sparsely populated country amid a
crumbling infrastructure as the authorities sink under mountains of debt.
So while MPs can now scan the Internet on their UN-funded computers ~ the
Playboy and CNN websites are the most popular in Government House, according
to an informal survey -- and Mongols abroad can read Mongolian-language daily
newspapers online, Mongolians outside the capital have to contend with patchy
phone connections and fluctating electrical supplies.

(See next page)


149

Agence France-Presse 13-04-98


Lack of money was identified by university students in a poll as the main barrier to
access to information.

Internet centres cost more than two dollars an hour, while monthly subscription
fees for e-mail range from 14 dollars to 75 dollars for an Internet connection.
And while Mongolian firms import brand-name computers, a stylish Toshiba
notebook is out of reach for most people in a country where the average monthly
household income is less than 60 dollars.
"The computer is a luxury item, a status symbol," said Bat-Erdene. "It's like a car,
not everybody can buy one.
"Private company bosses all have personal computers, in their homes as well as
their offices. It's just for show. They just play games on them. Sometimes they
don't even know how to switch them on."
But many people remain optimistic about Mongolia's future in technology. This
month, a British-Mongolian joint venture is launching the Khan, a desktop
computer designed and assembled in Mongolia
"We wanted to show that you can get things done in Mongolia," said Iain Barclay,
the firm's marketing director. "We need to overcome the prejudice that some
people have against products from here.
"Generally in Mongolia there's a big rise in technology that generates an interest in
computers and develops the market. You can buy a lot more stuff here now, like
laptops with DVD.
"The communications infrastructure in the countryside is improving. And there is
all sorts of new technology coming to overcome limitations of distance and
remoteness."
v
But if Mongolia is to compete in the rapidly changing high-tech world, it needs
access to better computers and better training.
"At the moment we can produce people with the skills to operate computers," says
Bat-Erdene. "But people who train on software need more practice in order to
improve their knowledge."
The School of Computer Science, set up inside the former Construction College,
sends a couple of instructors each year abroad on training courses paid for by the
UN or the European Union.
Lecturer Yumbayar Namsrai admits they have a long way to go.
"We have no master's degree course, for example. But we made a new curriculum
last year and tried to include all the modern subjects.
"The equipment in this school is better than in other universities, where the
network and Internet connections are still not so good. All our students have
network and Internet access, so it's a lot better than two or three years ago."

Previous Story: War on the web shadows conflict in the Balkans AFP
Next Story: It's Y2K crunch time in Australian stockmarket test AFP
150

Associated Press

Mongolia Unshackles
By Michael Kohn
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, January 30, 1999; 1:36 a.rr_

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia (AP) -


"Blue Spot" follows parliament "
"Yesterday," "Today" and "The Day •
straight news.

From newsstands, Mongolia's


more freedom is on the way.

A law enacted Jan. 1 aims to unshackle fron


those newspapers, radio and television starons
i't already in private hands.

law is regarded as one of the most


s nine-year effort to dismantle its co
free-market democracy.

livestock herds have been


(hundreds of thousands of nomads
:. State-owned factories are
overlooks the central square in
•Must stalwarts once rallied.

outlets that once were


The new law bans state ownership of
be privatized. Emphasizing the b
to change their names for

one of the largest daily


'Century News," while

.ices will be pooled


•stem.
151

Associated Press 30-01-99


"Mass media should not be under any political pressure," said
legislator Da. Ganbold. "After elections, leaders and directors of the
state media are rehired to suit government needs. Politicizing
increases and the official information often becomes distorted."

"Mongolians will have access to the most accurate news available,"


said another legislator, E. Bat Uul. "It will change their attitudes,
philosophy and thinking."

Even with the new law, some say little has changed. Editorial staff
and reporters were rehired with the same salaries. Century News was
given a splash of color for a few days, then reverted to black and
white. National Right looks the same as before.

"The only change I can see is the name. Our editorial staff and
policies are the same," said National Right reporter O. Ariuntuya.
"Maybe after privatization there will be a visible difference."

First, however, state media must find buyers. Newspapers are


expected to be auctioned off within the next six months.

But the former state media in this country of 2.4 million people face a
market crowded with publications — most of them private ~ that have
sprung up in democracy's wake. Mongolia has a remarkable 648
registered newspapers and periodicals ~ 1 for every 3,700 people —
although many published just one issue, folded and no longer
operate.

In the battle for readers, magazines and newspapers with names like
"Top Secret" and "Long Ear" have filled pages with gossip and
scandal. Some publications carry racy pictures of scantily clad
women.

One of the most famous newspapers, "Hot Blanket," was closed by


the government in 1996 for printing illegal pornographic
advertisements. With a circulation of 80,000, the newspaper, which
came out every 10 days, was one of the most widely read.

Hot Blanket founder S. Bayarmonkh, a self-styled rebellious


journalist known for scooping stories, has started a new newspaper.

"Alarm," which also comes out every 10 days, has 26,000


subscribers and sells 25,000 more copies at newsstands. The daily
National Right, in contrast, has 15,000 subscribers and sells 3,000
copies on the street.

However, the National Right and other former state media are
expected to win over readers who may eventually become
disenchanted by the tabloids.

"They will make their money off their prestige and accurate
reporting. There is no need for these papers to resort to scandalous
press," said D. Undraa, an employee of the national news agency
152

Science Magazine 22-01-99

NEWS Focus
and offices, is largely empty. Astronomer
Bayaraa Togookhuu waits in vain for West-
ern scientists to show interest in a finely
crafted 20-inch Schmidt telescope once
Science Hopes to Rebound used for variable star research. "A few thou-
sand dollars is all that is needed to upgrade
In Post-Cold War Era it," says Martin Connors, an astronomer at
Athabasca University in northern Alberta,
Canada, who recently inspected the Schmidt
Newly democratic, Mongolia hopes Western links will help it to overcome
telescope. The site's clear and dry air, its al-
its isolation and regain its scientific prowess
titude and location on the opposite side of
the globe from North America, and its polit-
ULAAN BAATAR. MQNGOUA—A decade ago, he says, "but they had no good information ical stability make it "potentially a good
this vast, isolated, and rugged country boast- on Mongolian science and technology. And place for astronomy," adds Bill Chang, who
ed a surprisingly strong research enterprise we had no good information on them." Com- handles Mongolian-related research at the
with 100 research institutes, 3000 re- munications were limited because the second U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).
searchers, and an annual influx of scientists language for most Mongolian researchers is The outlook appears slightly brighter for
from other parts of the East Bloc. "Our ex- Russian or German, not English, Mongolian geologists and geophysicists.
pertise and capacity was very high," says B. The government reacted to the crisis The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty' Orga-
Chadraa, president of the Mongolian Acade- caused by the abrupt loss of Soviet support nization in Vienna wants to place five seis-
my of Sciences and a Moscow-trained physi- by reducing the number of scientific insti- mic stations across Mongolia to keep a
cist. "We worked closely with Russia and tutes to 20, with 11 devoted to basic re- watch out for rogue nuclear tests. Chadraa
[East] Germany." Mongolia's geography search in the physical, biological, and so- says the SI.6 million contract, still under
helped; The Soviets built a series of seismo- cial sciences. And w h i l e government negotiation, would provide the ability to de-
logical stations to monitor nuclear tests spending on science and technology has tect any atmospheric explosions and to
across the border in China, and they funded held fairly steady at almost $3 million measure for airborne radioactivity. Al-
operations at a hilltop of telescopes to ob- since 1991, the end of Soviet subsidies for though the stations are designed for mini-
serve U.S. spy satellites through Mongolia^ oil and other essentials has triggered an in- mal maintenance, meaning few jobs for
clear skies. In addition, the dinosaur grave- flationary' spiral that has eaten heavily into Mongolian scientists, Chadraa hopes they
yards of the Gobi desert were a big draw for purchasing power. "There is enough money will lead to increased contacts between
paleontologists. to keep current programs going, but not Mongolian and Western researchers.
But in 1991 Rus- Another possibility for
sia withdrew hun- Natural advantages. Mongolia greater contact is further ex-
dreds of thousands of hopes a bank of telescopes outside ploration of the country's re-
its troops, and the the capital, the fossil-rich Gobi cent seismic history. "There
generous subsidies desert, and a pristine Lake Chovsgol have been several earth-
will lure more Western scientists.
for outside university quakes in the last 50 years
education and re- RUSSIA near magnitude 8," says Jack
search work disap- Medlin, head of the Asian
peared. Today, the and Pacific geology section
telescopes are shuttered by a lack of mon- for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS),
ey for photographic plates, and which has sponsored four expeditions. The
the seismic stations are silent So pattern of inner-continental quakes resem-
officials in this new democracy bles activity in the US. midscction, and
are looking West for help in Mongolian fault lines are often exposed
building on modest initiatives in rather than buried under layers of rock.
seismology and higher education USGS also is working with Mongo-
and leveraging Mongolia's natu- lia and several other Asian nations to an-
ral assets. Those efforts, the coun- for a n y t h i n g new," says alyze the continent's mineral deposits. The
try's researchers note proudly, Chadraa. At least one-third next step, says Medlin, would be for Mon-
reach back 700 years, when Mon- of Mongolian researchers golia to conduct its Own mineral assessment
gol emperor Kublai Khan organized the first have abandoned science since the end of and environmental survey, at a cost of sev-
international academy of sciences in Beijing. the Soviet era, he estimates. "The good eral million dollars. A USGS team will re-
But creating those links won't be easy for people are leaving to go into business and turn to Ulaan Baatar in late spring to dis-
a country that largely banned Westerners for politics," says Bekhtur mournfully. cuss the plan, which would require outside
half a century. "The situation was very diffi- Bekhtur's mountaintop institute, on the funding. In the meantime, a number of U.S.
cult," says Bazaryn Bekhtur, director of the outskirts of the capital, once was a beehive scientists have received NSF money to
Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics, sit- of activity. Soviet intelligence services came work with their Mongolian counterparts on
ting in the traditional round nomadic tent for a firsthand look at U.S. spy satellites and everything from dinosaur fossils and grass-
called a ger still favored by Mongolians, clues to their intended targets, while scien- land ecology to the pristine depths of Lake
Bekhtur was visiting a group of Canadian as- tists conducted regular astronomical re- Chovsgol. A proposal from the Mongolian
tronomers camped out on a vast plain 50 search. Today, Bekhtur's annual budget of government to set aside vast tracts of land
miles south of the capital to monitor last fall's about 575,000 has been only partially ap- for conservation purposes could provide ad-
Leonid meteor shower. "We tried to set .up propriated, and its bank of 10 telescopes, ditional research opportunities.
some cooperation with Western countries," along with a large building for classrooms Such cooperative efforts can only do so

www.sciencemag.org SCIENCE VOL 283 22 JANUARY 1999 (See next page)


153

Science Magazine 22-01-99


NEWS FOCUS
much to improve the country's science, how- subsidizes 30 graduate students at Denver former Soviet Bloc. Nevertheless, day-to-day
ever. In the long term, Mongolian administra- and at other U.S. universities. life remains bleak. "Mongolia is a small
tors acknowledge that a better educated pop- Chadraa, who also holds the position of country, and there is little support for sci-
ulation will be essential. And that means sup- university rector, acknowledges that the ence," says one Mongolian researcher, noting
plementing the country's only major universi- UCD relationship is a gamble. "It's hard for that "science is at the bottom of the list" of
ty. So in 1997 Chadraa convened a former us—the textbooks, the tuition are very ex- programs funded by the country's Ministry of
Russian high-rise building into a campus, pensive, and we have spent a lot of money Enlightenment, which supports education,
called the Ulaan Baatar University, that is run developing th: s." But such a connection is a culture, and science. That is the harsh reality
by the University of Colorado. Denver vital step towa-d raising a new generation of in a nation of tew roads, schools, and exports,
(UCD). The unusual arrangement, which English-speal searchers. For their part, and whose airline is hard pressed to pay for
UCD pioneered in Moscow and Beijing. UCD officials see the arrangement, which maintenance on its single Airbus jet. But
gives the 60 Mongolian students now en- they hope will at least break even, as an op- Mongolian researchers arc betting they can
rolled a chance to leam English, earn a U.S. •unity to expand their presence in Asia. extend the country's history of international
degree, and apply for srudy in Denver or oth- Mongolia's efforts to build a peaceful contacts to bolster its scientific prowess.
er U.S. universities. The academy and its U.S. democratic society and create a market econ- -ANDREW LAWIER
partner share the cost of the S4000 annual tu- omy win praise from foreigners, who contrast Andrew Lawler is a staff writer on fellowship at the
ition. In addition, the Mongolian government it with the chaos enveloping other parts of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Mongol Messenger 05-11-97

Information centres the


key to local developmen
History reveals that primitive based on democratic values and
• Citizens Information Services Centres have been
men began to settle in Mongolia human rights and defines the na-
nearly 300,000 years ago. The term opened in six aimags to enhance the capabilities of ture of decentralisation and self-
Mongol means "brave people" and local communities. UNDP Local Governance Advisor governance.
their origin lies with the nomadic Within the framework of the
tribes. MAHINDA MOflAGOLLE tables the history leading Partnership for Progress between
Usually they loved to migrate to the birth of the public information project. the United Nations Development
from one place lo another due to Programme (UNDP) and the Mon-
geographic and political reasons. (Chan declared Mongolia an inde- a f u n c t i o n i n g market-based golian Government, the UNDP
Even today animal husbandry is pendent country. The Russian economy, liberalising domestic programme on Governance and
[foe mainstay of the country. revolution in 1917 greatly influ- and international trade, freeing re- Economic Transition the
The political history of Mon- enced Mongolians. In 1919 China maining price restrictions, intro- Decentralisation and Democracy is
golia is full of adventures and sto- invaded Mongolia and Bogd Khan ducing a floating exchange rate for supporting the consolidation of
ries of the rise and fall of different asked for help from Russia and in the local currency and announcing democracy and decentralisation ef-
monasteries. In the third century 1921 Russian and Mongolian sol- privatisation programmes. forts of the Government. The pri-
BC the great Huns, whose huge diers defeated Chinese forces. Since 1990, significant steps mary focus of this project is to
empire extended from the Great In 1924 the Mongolian Peoples have been made towards establish- implement a participatory ap-
Wall of China to Lake Baikal in the Republic (MPR) was declared. So ing a stable democracy in Mongo- proach in local development man-
former Soviet Union. for another 67 years, until 1990, the lia, including promulgation of a agement in six of the country's 21
During the period of Chingis Socialist government (under Rus- new Constitution, formation of a aimags.
Khan and his sons in the 13th cen- sian influence) continued. government following free and fair The success of Mongolia's full
sury, the Mongol empire expanded Mongolia took its steps to- elections and commencement of transition from a socialist system
from China to the Black Sea and wards democracy in 1990. The administrative and economic re- to a democratic market-based so-
included China, Russia, Iraq, Iran Mongolian Government amended forms. ciety, is mainly dependent on the
and some other countries. How- the constitution to permit multi There has been, however, a sig- people's prticipation in develop-
ever due to several reasons over the party elections to be held in July nificant reduction in the level and ment activities. Therefore, build-
next four centuries, the vast 1990 due to the large pro democ- quality of public goods and ser- ing capacities in local civil society
Mongol empire broke in to sepa- racy protests. However, commu- vices available to the people dur- is one of the main objectives un-
rate parts. Some of the reasons for nists won the election, securing 85 ing the transition period. der this project. So the establish-
this decline were lack of sound per cent of seats in the Parliament. The Government has under- ment of Citizens Information Ser-
economic links, local politics and The Constitution was again gone significant restructuring. vice Centres (CISC) was given pri-
lack of proper communication. amended and an election was held Many functions, which were ority and these centres are now pro-
D u r i n g this period the in June 1992 and the first non-com- strictly controlled centrally, have viding computer training, advisory
Manchus (enemies of Mongols in munist government was now been decentralised to the ter- services, opportunities for distance
China) were winning the wars and established.!n July 1996 a new ritorial units. These units have little education and access to the Public
were able to send many Mongols Government took power with a experience in public service deliv- Management Information System.
nome. So during the Qing Dynasty strong platform for further ery system design and manage- At present this project has been
(1644-1911) China controlled decentralisation and strengthening ment. They also do not have suffi- already introduced in Tov,
Mongolia. After the great revolu- local governance institutions. cient funds to operate effectively. D u n d g o b i , Hovd, Hovsgol,
tion in 1911 China became the Re- So far the Government of Mon- The Constitution of Mongolia Ovorkhangat and S u k h b a a t a r
public of China. Meanwhile Bogd golia has kept its promise to build has provided a governance system aimags.
154

International Herald Tribune 07-07-98


Mongolia Gets Its Own Media Mogul ended in 1996 after the defeat of the Communists i
July 7, 1998 golia's second free elections.
MEDIA MARKETS
Asserting a new editorial independence and the
By Thomas Crampton International Herald Tribune the state-run newspaper to criticize the newly forrrw
lition government, Mr. Baldorj sparked an acrim
TERELJ, Mongolia - Since the time a spelling mistake national debate that ended with
almost landed him in prison, Ts. Baldorj's career as a Parliament's voting to fire him. Half of the staff
newspaper journalist has improved considerably. newspaper resigned in sympathy, joining Mr. Ba
start a new publication.
Within the last two years, Mr. Baldorj has borrowed enough
money to build the country's largest media empire, en- Few fault the editorial quality and independence
compassing five publications, including Onoodor, the first publications, but Mr. Baldorj's critics say that only t
privately owned daily newspaper in Mongolia, as well as a his Communist connections could he have mo
radio and television station. quickly from editor to media baron.

"He is our Mongolian Rupert Murdoch and could become "Maybe political connections have helped nv
prime minister if he really wanted, but I think he prefers to nesses," Mr. Baldorj said. "But people say contrc
stay in the background, pulling strings," said D. Ariunbold, things about me because my business goes well
editor in chief of the Mongol Messenger, the state-owned
rival of an English-language newspaper owned by Mr. He denied that he had any ambition to become prir
Baldorj, The UB Post. ister but said he planned to take "a more active rol
leadership" of the People's Revolutionary Party in 1
Despite keen capitalist instincts, the soft-spoken and election.
bohemian-looking Mr. Baldorj - who, like other Mongolians,
goes by his first name and the initials of his father's name Onoodor claims a circulation of 10,000, about one-
because family names were banned by the Communists of all daily newspapers sold in Mongolia, and Mr.
who formerly ruled the country - puts his moral and finan- has expanded his media empire to encompass bro
cial support behind the descendants of the Communists. ing as well as a stable of publications.

"The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party has more Financed largely through borrowing, Mr. Baldorj h
experience in governing and they are much more quali- "dio and television station as well as four weekly n
fied than the current government," Mr. Baldorj said through pers. One covers sports, two are for children and 1
an interpreter. "The party has ers and the other is the English-language UB Pa
changed; this name is just a hangover from the old days." Mr. Baldorj's publications are put together by 100
ists in two rooms using three phone lines and 12 c
Mr. Baldorj, 45, is in some ways himself a hangover from ers.
the old regime, and critics say his party connections have
been crucial for the fast growth of his business. It was Starting a publishing business was by no means;
under the Soviet-backed Communist governmentthat Mr. nal idea in post-Communist Mongolia. When cen
Baldorj reached the top ranks of the state propaganda ended, Mongolia's highly educated, opinionated a
machine, pressed citizens began churning out new publics
becoming editor of the official daily newspaper, Ardyn Erkh. the dozen.

But this job almost ended with his imprisonment. While From barely a handful of state-run newspapers und
working at the newspaper under tight deadline one evening munist rule, there are now more than 200 official
Mr. Baldorj switched one letter in Mongolian, transform- tered titles. Many of the publications are tabloid ii
ing "the Soviet premier" into "the Soviet complainer." and mentality. Titles include Top Secret, Disgustir
Reading his mistake the next morning, he feared the worst. and Hot Blanket.

At the time, the atmosphere of distrust was so strong that Mr. Baldorj started Onoodor with financing of £
members of the state censorship committee censored one from an American business contact. His highly pd
another and reporters were exiled to the Gobi Desert for frontation with the government guaranteed goc
minor infractions. when the first edition rolled off the press -ess ti
months after he had lost his job at Ardyn Erkh.
"I was very worried, but finally I did not go to prison for
the spelling mistake," Mr. Baldorj said. "They just cut my "All 8,000 copies sold out in the first morning,"' Mr
salary by 25 percent for three months." The incident said. "The government's direction was stiB une
passed, but his career at the newspaper people wanted to know which way the wind woui
155

UB Post 08-09-98

Mongolia prepares for


a magazine explosion
By Jill LAWLESS publications that are interesting
to look at, top photojournalism
- all the things newspapers

M
ongolian newsstands
are bursting at the don't cover," adds South.
seams. But while the "We've seen newspapers mov-
content of the country's publi- ing to more colour, more photo-
cations is varied, their form is graphs, and that shows a desire
not. New: L rules this coun- for quality."
try's publishing industry. The That quality comes at a
few glossy magazines for sale price. Tusgal, with 70 colour
are imports from Russia. pages, will sell for between Tg
When the democratic revo- 1500 and Tg 2000 - not much
lution unleashed the tide of free cheaper than an American publi-
expression in the early 1990s, a cation like Time, and too expen-
flood of newspapers poured sive for many Mongolians.
forth. It made sense. The cheap- With only 1000 Internet
and-cheerful technology of subscribers in Mongolia, Ger
newsprint is low-tech, acces- has an even smaller market
sible and inexpensive Suddenly within the country - though.
everyone could be a publisher. South is quick to point out, the
But Mongolia's increas- UN has established pubic-
ingly sophisticated media land- access Internet centres in Uiaan-
scape is about to go glossy. baatar and several aimags.
Tomorrow (September 9) sees And he says a print version
the launch of Ger(Home), is planned to follow.
Mongolia's first on-line maga- "Distribution is the big
zine. A b i l i n g u a l quarterly problem right now." he says.
funded by the United Nations, "We have to see how we can
it combines entertainment — organize distribution to reach
articles on the changing sexual the whole country. 1 know more
attitudes of young Mongolians magazines will be launched
and the country's vibrant pop soon in Mongolia, and hope a
scene — with information on distribution network may grow
the work of the UN and other out of that."
NGOs in Mongolia. The editors know Mon-
"We want something thai golia's magazine market and
will tell the stories of Mon- magazine technology are in their
golians and their experiences infancy. Although companies
over the last eight years — both like Admon and Interpess get
to Mongolians and to the rest of more sophisticated equipment
the world." says David South, by the month, the capacity to
communications coordinator at produce quality publications is
the United Nations Devel- still limited - the first issue of
opment Programme Tusgal has been printed outside
This month also brings the Mongolia.
premiere issue of Tusgal Human resources need to
(Strike), billed as the first full- develop as well, Tsendjav
colour, general-interest maga- admits.
zine in the new Mongolia.. "To produce a monthly
Publishe'd by Mongol News magazine you need highly
Company - the privately owned qualified journalists. We don't
media group .whose stable of. have that right now. We're still
pubhcations'ihcludes the daily- seeking them out."
newspaper Onoodor and The But he is confident this will
UB Post - it!offers a lively mix; change - and quickly, too, if the
of sport, culture and celebrity; pace of development in the past
articles, also aimed primarily at eight years is anything to go by.
the young. "During socialism, Mon-
These two publications are golia had many magazines, but
just (he top of the stack. Mon- it all stopped after 1990," notes
golia's two best-known printing Tsendjav. "It was a question of
houses, Admon and Interpress, economics.
are.said to be working on titles "At first we don't think we
of their own. can earn money from this. If you
Mongolia's quick-to-leam want to make money you have
capitalists sec a gap -- and they to wait two or three years. So
want to fill it. what we are aiming for at first
"In Mongolia there are is to build up a readership.
many newspapers, but no "I t h i n k in two or three
world-class magazines," says years, living standards will
Tusgal's editor-in-chief, Do. improve. People will have more
Tsendjav. "On the streets you money to spend on things like
can see a lot of publications that magazines. But we don't want
aren't exactly magazines but to wait for people to get enough
you can't call newspapers, either money. We want to be the first,
- newspapers that appear every so people will develop an in-
10 days or two weeks. terest.
"We want to fill this space. "There will be competition.
We want to produce the first Nowadays a lot of business-
colour magazine that will reach people understand the impor-
world standards, something tance of the media. 1 welcome
close to Time or Newsweek." competition. I t ' l l make us work
"There's an enormous thirst harder. It's good for every-
for quality journalism, quality body."
Information called key to development
OS
lor inieneciuai mtiubines is

O
nce u p o n a time, information and communi-
there was a great cations.
empire, covering a But Mongolia's current
third of the earth. It may information and communi-
sound like a fairy tale, but it's cations systems are inad-
the true story of Mongolia in equate to meet the country's
the 13th century. goals.
Now, however, it's a dif- A survey of students from
ferent story. Mongolia today the Mongolian National
has weak industry and a weak 'University and Mongolian
economy. Technical University revealed
According to World Bank that many - 80 per cent - do
figures, as much as 36 per not believe ail the information
cent of the population lives in they get from newspapers,
poverty. which they consider the main
source of information in the
The solution to Mon-
country.
golia's problems may lie in
And they say access to
developing its intellect as
computer technology is even
much as its economy.
worse. Many said they rarely
Wasn't it the intelligence
go to Ulaanbaatar's two pub-
of our ancestors that allowed
lic-access computer centres to
them to build such » mighty
seek information from the
empire 700 years ago? How
Internet, because the Tg 3000
else could such a small popu-
(U.S. $3.40) fee is too high.
lation - less than a million at
Datacom, currently Mon-
the time - survive and thrive golia's only Internet service
in a time of war and strife? provider, offered free Internet
A United Nations Devel- The United Nations Development Programme thinks computers M* toy to Mongolia's future.
access to universities for two
opment Programme-backed years but stopped in 1998, year ago in the Ulaanbaatar So far, the CNN and Playboy vast territory with such a an ICT blueprint which
project hopes to develop "Now there is a computer mayor's office remains little- websites have proved the most scattered population. But I've reflects public opinion of how
Mongolia's intellectual centre at the School of Com- known. popular. found it's not so bad. Because it should be in the country,"
Industries. puter Science and Manage- Similar centres have been "The first stage of the people here have a talent for notes Yamanaka. "Testing the
"Intelligence gives a ment for all universities," says set up in the capitals of Tov, project was to provide de- learning things. opinions may take a long time.
l u m m y one more chance," L. Baatarkhuu of Datacom's Ovorkhangai, Khovsgol and cision-makers with better "Once people are Well So the Summit might be in the
Myi Atiiuhi Yamnnaka, who Customer Service Centre. Dundgovaimags. but Internet communications and infor- aware of ICT - and, more summer."
w i n k s mi UNDP's Infor- But he admits one centre access outside the capita] is mation systems," explains importantly, if the government Yamanaka says that the
mation mul ( iimmimicirtlons cannot possibly meet the de- sketchy at best. Yamnnakn. "Now we arc try- would focus on it — capacity project is sowing the seeds of
iMlmnlugy (ICT) project. mand, and he agrees thai "We want the centres to be ing to touch the grassroots, the can be built easily." development, and hopes the
M... i,. , l i . , i . In grilnnl Internet fees are too high for real communications centres, public " To this end, the Soros results will been seen in 2010.
•l,-il mill many ntudents. with crowds of people freely n collaboration with the Foundation and the project are By then, products stamped
. . . . HI "Monthly fees of between exchanging information," sayi Soros I o u n d n l i o n , U N D P planning a national ICT Sum- with the words, "Copyright
' I Iml i Mil In M ill. 1 , 1 , i U S SI* and U.S. $75 are too Yamanaka. plans to provide furul sec- mit for 1999. GC
Mongolia" may be appearing
....... in much for Mongolians But I Ic says the centres supply ondary schools with computer "The first step is to prepare on the world market.
II.. , 1 , 1 . . , , .,,. .... i ..,|,, , running «uch a service is very ncwspupeis, bulletin bo«rdn facilities
pM4M»lliin 111, 1. 1. 1, i M,! ...... ,vr " and maga/.inei "In Ihr "('nildrcn must know what
Oiiiililr »f Ulnnnbnmnr, countryside, pnpen and uihri Iri-hnolngy it, they should at
• l"l •< ....... • 1 , .,,, !,,„!
, , , u i | i i i l r i in i r\t is nil hill publications are alwiyn laic loii loui-li i''c computer
.illh.ii. .,! .I,,|I.M I,,
«l«il ,,,• « .......... In), IIII|HI*M|I|||- So at lean Ihc centres give kcyi," >»y» Ysnunskn
U. III. 1. 10 " Mir..K i |,,,,|,.,,,,ini. proplr accesi to itcih nrwi " Ihr challenges, he
I., lii l|i mi i I M,III|',I]I,I .lli.i ,i Another sulr ill Ihr pin,,. i v,n In mm, „„ ( ,,,ii,,,|..i
157

UB Post 23-09-97

Mongolians media-hungry,
national survey reveals
Capitalism has spawned free-for-all in newspaper business

M
ongolians are country - respondents especially popular. Local
hungry for news, identified a staggering 89. television has some way
finds a study by But only a few of these to go to catch up. UB TV
the Press Institute of have established a solid and local aimag stations
Mongolia. But while most reader base. The are watched by only 29
appreciate the government newspaper per cent of daily viewers,
proliferation of Ardyn Erkh remains far while 19.1 per cent tune
newspapers, magazines and away the most into Channel 25 and 8.7
and electronic-media popular - 91 per cent of per cent to Eagle TV. This
outlets in the 1990s, a readers, look at it - suggests that, for all its
significant portion would followed by Zasgiin flash, Eagle TV has not
prefer quality over Gazriin Medee and found a solid audience for
quantity. Onodoor. its sports-dominated
The first-ever But more than one programming.
Mongolian mass media third of the newspaper State radio also tops
survey polled 567 readers surveyed - 37.5 the list, thanks in large
Mongolians from across per cent — said they part to of its countrywide
the country on their would prefer to have broadcast reach, followed
reading, viewing and f e w e r publications of by UB Radio and Blue Sky
listening habits. The higher quality. This stands Radio. There's a
results show that in contrast to radio and generational divide,
Mongolians yearn for fast, TV, where a large majority though, with under-30s
accurate and factual expressed a desire for favouring the pop-music
news. greater choice. dominated 102.5 FM.
Newspapers are the Nearly all the Among the report's
staple source of respondents admitted to other findings, four
information. Some 76.3 watching television; 74.6 respondents complained
per cent of those polled said they tune in everyday. of gossip being printed as
said they read Radio is less popular, with news, while four others
newspapers, 44 per cent 67 per cent of those polled thought there was too
of them on a daily basis. saying they are daily much pornography in the
And 55 per cent of listeners. media.
interviewees said papers News is the main Access to the media
were a source of useful reason people turn on the remains an important
information. Only 23 per television, and the state issue, especially in rural
cent expressed the same broadcaster is easily the areas. One respondent
opinion of television, 17 most popular outlet in said airplanes should drop
per cent of radio. both,radio and TV. All the newspapers and
The print media daily television watchers magazines as they fly over
industry in Mongolia admitted to tuning into the aimags.
remains in a state of flux. state station at some point Another suggested
The market economy has in the day. Its newscast, journalists be sent to war
brought a flock of new watched by a majority of zones so they could learn'
newspapers to this all respondents, is how to report.
158

UB Post 27-10-98

Journalists seek access to information


Ensuring the free flow of Mongolia's new press government and state in- with the courts, not the Mini-
information was the topic of freedom law - which comes stitutions to convey such stry of Justice.
a meeting of journalists and into effect January 1 — stres- information to the media — And he said the state had
Members of Parliament or- ses that the public should and this has many journalists a duty to distribute all in-
ganized by the Mongolian have access to official in- worried. formation not classed as
Journalists1 Association and formation. • At present, independent secret.
the Press Institute of Mon- But it does not create a media outlets complain that Delgermaa went even
golia last week. legal mechanism compelling official information is given farther, saying journalists
only to the government press. should be free to publish any
"Even though it is stip- information they obtained
ulated in the Mongolian Con- from official sources.
stitution that citizens have a "The people charged with
right to seek and obtain infor- protecting 'secret' infor-
mation, the responsibility to mation should be held re-
distribute information is not sponsible in cases where such
included in the law," charged information is published,"
G. Akim, editor of the she said.
newspaper II Tovchoo. The long-awaited press
The sympathetic MPs in law, which bans censorship
attendance promised to take and calls for the privatization
up reporters' concerns. Both of the state-owned media, has
B. Delgermaa and J. Byamb- been seen by journalists as
adorj voiced support for praiseworthy but vague.
UB Post 05-05-98 greater legal safeguards for A parliamentary working
journalists. group is in the process of
Byambadorj said the working out how it will be
power to censure and shut
Journos yearn to be free down the media should rest
implemented.

By Ch. BAZAR, Press Institute of Mongolia

Mongolian journalists want a free press - but there's no consensus


on how best to achieve it, accordingto a survey by the Press Institute
of Mongolia and the' United Nations Development Programme's
Democracy and Journalism project.
The survey polled politicians, journalists and consumers of the
media between February and April of this year on the state of press
freedom in Mongolia.
A legal framework for media freedom was supported by 57.81
per cent of 64 journalists who participated in the survey. 53.13 per
cent supported financial independence for the media. 51.56 per
cent favoured banishing media monopolies. 42.19 per cent wanted
media privatization, 42.19 sought greater public access to
information and 40.63 per cent favoured prohibiting all forms of
censorship.
Mongolia'sconstitutionguaranteesthe right to expressopinions
and to publish, seek and obtain information, But the poll indicates
journalists feel there are real obstacles to enjoying these rights.
The main barriers are financial dependence, cited by 65.63 per
cent of respondents, dependence on the state by the major media
outlets (60.94 per cent), moral failure of journalists (46.86 per cent)
and lack of courage on the part of journalists (46.88 per cent).
Participants were frank in accepting that poor f i n a n c i a l
conditions prevent them from being the "voice of truth." And many
pointed to government agencies' practice of distinguishingbetween
state and independent media as a bar to reporting accurate
information. The resulting inaccuracy harms the public reputation
of the new-bom independent media.
In all. 46.88 per cent believe state officials provide obstacles
to journalists obtaining information, while 68.75 per cent think
govemmentofficialsshouldbe legally rcquiredto providethemedia
with information.
159

UB Post 03-06-98 Mongol Messenger 17-12-97

Public mistrusts Internet


journalists: survey centres
Readers like newspapers but
don't trust them, according to
a recent survey by the Press
cent - said press freedom in
Mongolia was al an initial
stage, while only 10 per cent
launched
Institute of Mongolia. thought it was fully guar-
The poll, designed to gauge anteed. TECHNOLOGY
public attitudes to press free- And a majority of co-
dom as the government pre- nsumers - 96 out of 161 — felt
pares <o debate a new mediT legal regulation was needed to
Free walk-in Internet centres
law, surveyed 161 media con- enshrine press freedom. But officially opened in Ulaanbaatar
sumers, as well as groups of only 19 newspaper readers and Tov Aimag last week.
politicians and journalists. supported privatizing the state- Funded by the Mongolian
More than two thirds of owned media as a solution. Government and the United Na-
consumers, 68.32 percent, said Indeed, 76.4 per cen! of tions Development Programme
they rely on newspapers for consumers felt Ihe state should (UNDP), the new Citizen Infor-
daily information, while 93.17 have its own media. mation Service Centres (CISC)
per cent cited TV as a source The largest group of media use the latest in information
of everyday news. consumers, 67.08 per cent, technology to bring Mongolians
But fewer than one in 10 thought a media law should closer to the vast range of infor-
consumers-only J3of 161 — enshrine open access to in-
formation.
mation available on the Internet.
thought newspapers publish
realistic information. The Press Institute hopes The computers are also
They cited a number of the survey will influence law- linked to the Mongolian
reasons for this, the top ones makers. Government's online database
being journalists' lack of sen- "Neither consumers nor and offer public email boxes to
sitivity to consumers' desires journalists can fully enjoy their send messages between centres
(43.48 percent), unwillingness constitutional rights to obtain, throughout Mongolia.
of government officials to give search, find information, to The Ulaanbaatar centres are
information to journalists speak and publish," conclude located at Sukhbaatar Square
(41.61 per cent) and the the pollsters. (the former AGFA film develop-
media's dependence on the "Their rights are violated. ing shop located in the Ulaan-
government and the state "It's high time for a law
aimed at regulation of issues
baatar mayoral office), and in
(36.02 per cent).
Some 60.87 per cent of like status of press and media Zunmod at the Tov Aimag
readers felt that not checking outlets, their independence, governor's office.
the authenticity of information freedom and journalists' A further six centre are ex-
was the chief quality a jour- rights, obligations (and) re- pected to be operational by the
nalist should avoid, followed sponsibilities." end of 1998.
by violating people's privacy The report refrains from In addition, the UNDP
and reputations (54.66 per outlining what form that law launched its English language
cent). should take. homepage earlier this month -
Most respondents - 60 per http: //www.un-mongolia.mn. A
homepage in Mongolian lan-
guage will be available next
month.
UB Post 16-03-99

Internet cafes brew change in Mongolia Interact access for Tg 2400 an


tries, it's a ms.ji.-ir event in ture to Its unforgiving climate One of the first, the Unicorn
Mongolia, which joined die -Mongoliansareloggiruj,on in centre in flie Ulaanhaalai Bank hour, and boasts Longer
Internet revolution only three ever-greater numbers. building, provides Internet opening hours (9 aon to 9 p.m.
years ago. Aivd it's getting easier for access for Tg 2tiXi an hour. It on weekdays) rJiafl most of the
In 19%, Dalacam, the inem to do so. has friendly and efficient staff other centres. Tea and coffee
country's first Internet service DatsGom's Magicnet sys- but is <adl>- lacking in atmo- are available in the bright but
provider, gave Mongolians ihe tem now faces competition sphere — and, at most times, rather spartan room.
chance to ride the informatitfo from the Bodi Computer-mo heal For atmosphere, check out
superhighway. Aid agencies Mongolnei and a third But several brand-new the slightly nrkiejfTg 2500 BE
By Jill LAWLESS I ike (fee United Nations and Ihe provider, Micom. owned by Internet cafes allow lilaan- hour) Bodi-run cafe on S«wJ
Soros F«J n tei cm soon stepped Mongolia]-! Telecom. baatariles Hie chance 1* sip Street, west of Ihe Slate Circus,
Brigcri primary-colour an,

W ake up and-smell the in to help ge» government


coffee, Ulaanr>aa»ar offices and NGOs online.
- the Internet cafe
has arrived in Mongolia.
Despite myriad technical
problems - the resulJ of every-
Tbe resin, most observers
agree, wiil be lower rales and
beUer service.
And more and more public-
while they surf.
Damom's new cafe, in the
Centre forScieiwfic and Tech-
nological Information - sieps
stripped wood and ibe chants
to down a gia» of beer or wine
as well as coffee give it the
atmospheric edge over Us
WJute that way be nothing thing from Mongolia'* creak} access Internet centres are away from -the National and
new in many developed coun- telecommunications infrastruc- springing up. in USannbaatar. Technical universities - offers competitors.