"Money" president on the horizon
The presidential election is on the near horizon, and the three political parties who have seats in the parliament have selected their candidates. The Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) has nominated its party leader and Speaker of The Parliament M.Enkhbold, whereas the Democratic Party (DP) nominated Kh.Battulga, who is the leader of the Mongolian Democratic Alliance faction. Candidate by the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) is its party leader and former president N.Enkhbayar.
In 50 days’ time, we will choose the person who will be leading our country until 2020. The President of Mongolia, whose term is four years and can be extended only once, is the head of our state and the leader of our people.
The president is the General Commander of the Mongolian Army, and has the right and responsibility to sign international agreements, appoint and retrieve ambassadors, award state honors and medals, issue pardons, and chair the National Security Council. Also, the president has the authority to submit proposals to the parliament on appointing the head of the judicial general council, members of this council, judges, the General Prosecutor, and their deputies. Therefore, the judicial branch of our government, which is the guardian of our independence and justice, depends on how the president is performing his duties.
What do people know about the presidential candidates?
Here is a summary of the information gathered from traditional and social media on the three candidates for the upcoming presidential election.
Kh.Battulga has a high school education and started accumulating wealth as a small-time trader. He received tens of millions of dollars from a South Korean company named ‘Nomurang’, but never paid it pack. He spent some time in jail after secretly importing alcohol without paying any customs duties. Having managed to take control of Bayangol Hotel, Talkh Chikher and Makh companies during the great privatization period, Battulga is now an extremely wealthy man and is the owner of Interbank and Capitron Bank. His favorite movie character is Don Corleone from the Godfather, which is why he named his first company ‘Genco’ after one of the characters in the movie. There have been reports around Battulga, who is a wrestler, beating up people. He has been elected as the Member of the Parliament, as well as cabinet member several times. Although people say that Battulga spent the 280 million USD he obtained from the bond funds on building a railroad, what has really been done is nothing more than uncompleted dirt dams. He advocates for building the railroad using wide gauges only. A video of President Elbegdorj questioning Battulga on this issue was shared publicly. The financial report of the Democratic Party is not disclosed to the public.
M.Enkhbold graduated from the National University of Mongolia. Having worked as the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar (1999-2005), Prime Minister, and Member of Parliament, Enkhbold is currently the Speaker of the Parliament. During his tenure as the mayor, he misused the Ulaanbaatar Fund to illegally sell and benefit from publicly owned land, and started the land corruption network. It allowed anyone to build anything in any location as long as they have the money, which is the reason why our drivers are spending their day in their cars today due to traffic congestions. Enkhbold divided the pies of organizations such as Ulaanbaatar Bank and Ulaanbaatar Insurance among his own people. He is also a race horse trainer. The financing of his political party is not even clear to the party members – let alone the public. A voice recording of him discussing about selling seats in the government for 62 billion MNT was leaked, but he denies it, saying the tape was fabricated.
N.Enkhbayar previously worked as Member of the Parliament, cabinet member, Prime Minister, and President of Mongolia. He studied literature in Moscow, and spent a year in the University of Leeds in England. When the previous MPRP took its current name, changing to MPP in 2011, Enkhbayar kept the discarded name (MPRP) and acquired the leader’s role in the party that had only a few members who stayed. Despite being given a sentence of two years and six months by court in 2012 for abuse of power, Enkhbayar spent a certain amount of his supposed jail time in the hospital, and was freed from the sentence following President Elbegdorj’s pardon granted on 1 August 2013. His sister Enkhtuya and his assistants, who have been declared as suspects of corruption cases, are still pursued by the INTERPOL. The financing of MPRP is not publicly disclosed.
Some people are calling the three presidential candidates as godfathers of mafia, land theft, and corruption respectively. This portion of the people does not trust any of the candidates and are deeply concerned about potential consequences. Meanwhile, others have contrasting opinions and are actively supporting the candidates. The only thing everyone agrees on is that Mongolia’s upcoming presidential election will be another "money election".
Clearly, when there is a money election, it is inevitable that we would have a "money president" or President Money. However, not everyone knows or fully understands that the source of these large amounts of money contested during elections is actually our money.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, said that “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” Mongolians are about to know what this actually means. One would wish that the political party members knew that their political party would rapidly cease to exist if they keep exchanging their right to vote for money.
What do people not know about the candidates?
Adam Smith said that justice is what is left as a value in the society after the injustice is punished. The history of mankind shows that the countries achieve flourishing development when there are conditions for people to achieve their individual objectives in their own ways, as long as the rules of morality and justice are not broken. Such freedom only exists in a country where private property is protected, free competition is promoted, and the size of the government is minimal.
The conditions that nurture economic freedom and a stable business environment are created by capable government and economic institutions only. And, the effectiveness of these institutions depends on the leader of the country.
The difference between North Korea and South Korea clearly demonstrates that the livelihood of people depends heavily on whether the president of the country understands how capitalism works and effectively deploys his or her authority to support free competition and let the market regulate itself.
But, we – the Mongolians – do not know whether these three candidates for our next president can use their authority in such ways, or if they have the capability, education, and desire to take such actions.
Their respective political party members do not know it either. Yet, they have finalized these nominations almost unanimously. It looks like the media has also had their mouths shut. As a result, the public discussions are focusing on mere appearance and image, debating on who has Mongolian blood and who acts in the Mongolian way.
The people of Mongolia are not practicing the right to know the ideology and capability of the people who will be taking this influential power and authority and be essential to the fate of our country over the next four to eight years. Greek philosopher Plato (428-348 BC) said “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
Mongolians have not developed the skill to unite under one common goal to protect our shared interests, and we do not have a strong civil society to support that yet.
Mongolia will not truly have democracy as long as our media is not truly independent as well as professional, and unless a strong civil society is formed. Until then, we will keep having money elections that produce "money kings" who strengthen the democratic dictatorship.