AsiaGlobal Voices

Trending Opinions From Across the Region

AsiaGlobal Voices is a curated feed of summaries of opinion articles, columns and editorials published in local languages in media from across Asia.

The publication of AsiaGlobal Voices summaries does not indicate any endorsement by the Asia Global Institute or AsiaGlobal Online of the opinions expressed in them.
There are No Set Standards in the Tourism Sector
Sunday, July 2, 2023
There are No Set Standards in the Tourism Sector

Amarjargal Munkhbat, columnist, in The UB Post (May 18, 2023)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Lyallla)

There are No Set Standards in the Tourism Sector

A tour operator in Mongolia cooperated with a foreign company to take well-known people on a trip around the country. But the manager of the foreign firm shook his head and said, “Mongolia is not yet ready.” Tourists who have come here have found, from the attitude and service they receive, that many things have not meet their expectations. Electricity and hot water are cut off; food does not arrive on time. When the tour operator complains, they are practically threatened to be kicked out because of their demands.

This is the reality behind the scenes in our country which has set the goal of receiving one million tourists in 2023 and 1.5 million in 2024. It is implementing a comprehensive initiative called “Year to Visit Mongolia”. Yet, there are almost no places that can comfortably accommodate 10 or 20 people, let alone absorb a million tourists. Unfortunately, the reality is that our tourist camps and resorts are distinguished only by their filthiness, the smell of damp and mold, and the inflated prices.

The main reason for the poor implementation of tourism service standards is weak supervision. There are many entrepreneurs who believe that there is no need for strict standards in this industry. If Mongolia aims to develop tourism as a priority and compete in the international market, it has no choice but to pay attention to standards. The most important indicator is tourist satisfaction. But satisfaction is the result of quality service. Setting standards would be the main driving force for providing accessible and quality services.

Fair Remuneration Needed for Cultural Workers
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Fair Remuneration Needed for Cultural Workers

Misheel Lkhasuren, columnist, in The UB Post (February 9, 2022)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Carsten ten Brink)

Fair Remuneration Needed for Cultural Workers

The pandemic has proven the intrinsic value of the cultural and creative sector at generating social cohesion and economic growth in times of crisis. 

Mongolian artists are seeking to embrace the latest technologies and merge Western techniques with Mongolian subject matter. The Ministry of Culture of Mongolia is even pursuing an e-culture policy. The ministry explains that cultural creations and resources must be combined with technical innovations to produce new types of products and put them into use. However, judging by the current situation, it does not provide enough revenue to support a professional career in Mongolia.

Even in Mongolia, major festivals and concerts are being held online. However, current monetization models in the digital environment are not sustainable for most artists. All streaming revenues effectively go into one big content pot, and artists’ royalties are allocated according to the overall market share of artists on the platform. This favors a small number of major international artists and acts.

New legislation and collaborative projects involving companies and civil society organizations, which benefit artists without hindering their presence on platforms, are needed to guarantee the viability of artists around the world. 

The social security net for artists in Mongolia was already inadequate but the pandemic has exposed just how vulnerable workers in the cultural and creative sectors are. Public expenditure worldwide in the creative industries declined in the years preceding the Covid-19 pandemic, which in turn, led to an unprecedented collapse in income and employment in the sector, magnifying the already precarious working conditions of many artists and cultural professionals.

No measures are being taken to protect and support cultural workers in Mongolia. There is no real protection for them, no equal distribution of financial support, and no minimum wage.

Protesting Is A Right Not A Crime
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Protesting Is A Right Not A Crime

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan, journalist, in The UB Post (July 15, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: @ajplus on Twitter)

Protesting Is A Right Not A Crime

The Constitution of Mongolia and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulate that everyone has the right to the freedom of peaceful assembly and to the freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of their interests. Yet, the government and law enforcement authorities are severely violating this fundamental right, a new study finds.

Amnesty International Mongolia has conducted a new study titled “Law Enforcement During Covid-19”. The first chapter focuses on the right to protest and assess how Mongolia handled public demonstrations. In the wake of the pandemic, the government, State Emergency Commission and Ulaanbaatar Mayor’s Office passed a number of decisions and resolutions “limiting” the right to protest. Nevertheless, the public has held peaceful demonstrations, marches, online petitions, vigils, unintentional mass demonstration, people-less protests, flash mobs, sit-ins, and civil disobedience to express their objection, disapproval and dissent toward the decisions and measures enforced by the authorities.

As for the resolutions passed by the Ulaanbaatar mayor to limit the right to gatherings, Amnesty International has concluded that it is within the right of the mayor to make such a decision within the city territory. These resolutions also provided for the imposition of penalties and the arrest of anyone who organizes or participates in a demonstration or assembly during the pandemic.

Mongolia must review its laws and regulations to ensure all citizens can exercise their rights, especially during the pandemic. The current legal system has limited the freedom of expression and right to protest, causing distress and harm to all sides. The more detailed the law and due process, the better and quicker issues can be resolved.

The Flood Season Begins – And The Budget for Drainage Is Insufficient
Monday, July 5, 2021
The Flood Season Begins – And The Budget for Drainage Is Insufficient

Misheel Lkhasuren, columnist, in The UB Post (June 14, 2021)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Michael Eisenriegler)

The Flood Season Begins – And The Budget for Drainage Is Insufficient

After heavy rain in Ulaanbaatar, roads and road tunnels are flooded every summer, causing inconvenience to pedestrians and drivers. Due to insufficient of storm drainage system, residents have no choice but to jump over and tread the puddles and pools that form after rain. In some cases, floods make it impossible for people or even cars to travel.

This shows that the surface drainage system is not well developed in Ulaanbaatar. Moreover, there are not enough drainage and drainage wells. An estimated 180 billion MNT (US$63.2 million) is needed to rehabilitate 1,100 km of roads in Ulaanbaatar and install drainage lines and wells. With such a budget, the city’s roads will not have water-related problems.

This year, however, only 1 billion MNT (US$351,000) was budgeted. In other words, as the budget was halved, it is clear that the construction of drainage pipes this year will be less than last year. Furthermore, it is unclear when the city will get rid of flood issues.

Roads are being repaired every year, and new roads are being built, but no drainages are being built with them. In any case, roads with drainage pipes are very rare in Ulaanbaatar. This summer has once again reminded us of the need to build more drainage. If it is not possible to build additional drainage on existing roads, it is important not to repeat the previous mistakes when building new roads.

The Missing Policy Pillar in the Time of Covid-19
Thursday, December 31, 2020
The Missing Policy Pillar in the Time of Covid-19

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan, journalist, in The UB Post (December 24, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Byamba-ochir Byambasuren/ILO)

The Missing Policy Pillar in the Time of Covid-19

All policies carried out by developed, developing and emerging markets can be categorized into two main pillars: supporting households and citizens, and supporting businesses and keeping jobs. When the pandemic hit, the government leaned more towards supporting households, through increasing the child money allowance, improving food coupons and such. On the employment side, the government reduced the social security premium and assisted through unemployment support, which lasted till November. Although household support will continue through to the end of the presidential election in June 2021, there is not much policy targeting retainment of jobs, supporting businesses, and avoiding bankruptcies.

Unless the government addresses the missing pillar, a vicious cycle will harm the people and economy alike in the medium to long term. A cycle of poverty usually starts with unemployment as businesses shed employees or close doors, which concurrently pushes households into poverty as unemployed workers struggle to find a new job.

What is missing – money or political will? It cannot be true that there is no support to save businesses because politicians are such cowards and refuse to spend. If Mongolia is to become a country that propels children to compete on the world level in the near future, we must ensure that their parents at least have a secure job to facilitate that opportunity.

If ailing jobs and companies disappear, it will be at least few times more expensive to create new ones and, more importantly, it will take years to recover to levels prior to Covid-19. Meanwhile, the socio-economic costs will devastate not just the poor, but everyone except the super-rich. In seven months, our country may have a new president, prime minister, and minister of finance. For those seeking the top jobs of the country, one message: Do the right thing and do it now!

Is Corruption the Only Legacy of Mongolian Boomers
Friday, November 6, 2020
Is Corruption the Only Legacy of Mongolian Boomers

Myagmardorj Buyanjargal, writer and translator, in The UB Post (November 4, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: munkhzaya0/Pixabay)

Is Corruption the Only Legacy of Mongolian Boomers

Reports have been made public that the general director of a state-owned mining corporation had used company funds to pay his daughter’s tuition fees at the University of Toronto in Canada. While many considered this a clear example of abuse of power, some also raised the question of whether such a benefit for the director was covered under his contract. 

I believe that it was theft from the state budget. It may very well be true that offering such advantages or benefits to the director could be allowed under a contract to bring good management to state-owned enterprises. However, it does not look like this was the case. There are absolutely reasonable legal grounds to open a criminal case and investigate the issue further unless there is some important information yet unknown to the public. 

People are questioning why it is taking this long for the relevant authorities, such as Independent Authority Against Corruption, to take necessary measures on this case. If we are to believe that Mongolia is a country with a rule of law, rather than a rule of men, the people deserve to know why no follow-up action was taken immediately upon the release of such an allegation of obvious corruption.

Human Rights: Was Giving the Ruling Party Another Landslide Win Worth It?
Monday, August 10, 2020
Human Rights: Was Giving the Ruling Party Another Landslide Win Worth It?

Myagmardorj Buyanjargal, writer, in The UB Post (August 7, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Sasha India)

Human Rights: Was Giving the Ruling Party Another Landslide Win Worth It?

It is not necessary to explain how the ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) won another landslide victory in the parliamentary elections. But consider the polls from a human rights perspective.

The most recent potential human-rights violation of the government is that it let a Mongolian woman and male driver stay in no-man’s-land for two days, refusing to let them enter their home country. The student had travelled from the Czech Republic since the government’s efforts to bring back citizens from abroad due to Covid-19 have been dismally slow.

When a large number of Mongolians were demanding that authorities let her in, she was stuck between Mongolia and Russia because customs authorities told her to go back to Russia. While the authenticity of this explanation may be in question, no reasonable man would be surprised if this explanation was authentic as the government closed the border indefinitely in mid-March. We perhaps need to remember that the Constitution prohibits the extradition and exile of citizens to any other country in any case.

Another very clear example of human rights violations would be the decisions issued by the State Emergency Commission (SEC) and the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar ordering mayors of districts not to accept any request to organize any kind of meeting, including peaceful gatherings and protests. According to the Constitution, citizens shall be guaranteed the privilege to enjoy “freedom of thought, free expression of opinion, speech, press, peaceful demonstration and meetings”.

If we follow this pattern of a quiet “abuse” of human rights, it started even before the election. When the authorities have things to hide, most likely there will be human rights violations. Is this the beginning of a gradual undermining of human rights? If so, was it worth giving the MPP another landslide victory?

Distance Learning: Is it Working?
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Distance Learning: Is it Working?

Enkhnaranjav Tumurbaatar, columnist, in The UB Post (April 20, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes

Distance Learning: Is it Working?

This is the first time that online lessons are being offered due to pandemic prevention in Mongolia. Students have been complaining that e-learning is not effective and some of them have asked for a refund of their tuition.

A student at the Mongolian National University for Science and Technology said: “The courses provided by teachers are ineffective, and most of the materials are searchable on the internet. We lack information on how to register our lesson attendance, when to complete assignments and ways to ask questions from teachers about the things we don't know. Everything is unclear. Provincial students cannot attend classes and drop out. Many students work to earn their tuition fee. Ineffective online lessons are a waste for them.”

A student at the Mongolian National University of Education complained: “It was not possible to attend online classes because of the poor network. When my phone connects with the slow internet, it takes a long time to load. The government's decision neglects provincial students. How can provincial students make up for lost time if they miss classes? We need to be given that opportunity.”

No one was ready for this situation. However, it is a shame that students complain that they don’t want or can't adapt to online classes. Some students are demanding too much – government stipends, free public transportation, and free access to the internet. Students need to understand that they are adults and are responsible for their own welfare. Understanding that the crisis has impacted all of us, not just them, and working with others to find the best way to resume their learning will be a much more effective attitude for achieving their goal. Distance learning itself is not the problem; it is an opportunity that has benefited millions of learners around the globe.