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Public outrage changes course

 By B.KHASH-ERDENE

Shortly after the public fury that forced law makers to retract the newly proposed Land Law had just begun to fade, the talk by law makers of building Chinese-standard narrow gauge railroad from Tavan Tolgoi coal mine to the Chinese border has rebounded in public protest.
Social media and the press are in a frenzy, with anger clogging up Facebook groups and Twitter feeds such as the nationalist Dayar Mongol (DM) Facebook group.
“I hope the [Chinese standard] gauge bill is dropped today in Parliament. We see the members who are pressing their buttons while the public is clearly against it. Although they say that the masses are brainwashed, I want to say that we are different,” said one DM post with dozens of comments and likes.
Currently, all of Mongolia’s railway infrastructure is built with Soviet standard, broad gauge railways. The narrow gauge proposed by Parliamentarians is the international standard and used in China, which makes it convenient for transporting coal to China from Tavan Tolgoi mine.

While it was noted by experts that building a narrow gauge railway would save money and make coal shipments simpler than a broad gauge railway, other experts pointed out that the narrow gauge cannot be connected to Sainshand soum, where trillions of MNT worth of industrial projects are expected to unfold, as it uses broad gauge rails.
The amount of anger and frustration expressed by the public on social media has been attributed largely to nationalist political views and Sinophobia, anti-Chinese sentiment. It is also worth noting that the public has just experienced a huge wave of uproar at the Land Law, and that the wave has not yet subsided, which makes it seem as though the reaction towards the narrow gauge bill is disproportionate.
The Land Law, which was retracted by the Prime Minister last week, allegedly contained clauses that would make it possible for foreign citizens to purchase and own land, which was met with widespread anger from the public at large.
Individuals, organizations, media, outspoken nationalists and patriots rallied people on social media to stand against the law and urged their representatives to retract it from Parliament.
Some politicians reported that they received appeals and threats from voters through their social media outlets and by phone, demanding retraction of the bill.
Various media, including Mongol TV, reported that if passed, the law would allow foreign citizens and organizations who have been in Mongolia for over six months to own land for 60-100 years, which triggered mass concern over national security and deep-rooted Sinophobia among Mongolians.
Mongolia’s history and culture teaches reverence and the cherishing of one’s land, and with a relatively small population of three million, Mongolians believe that foreign ownership of land is a serious national security issue.
Before retracting the law due to overwhelming negative reactions from the public, in defense of the law it proposed, the Democratic Party faction in Parliament said that wrongful representation was made to the public about the law, and that no clauses allowing foreign ownership were included. They claimed that legal terms such as land use, acquisition and ownership were misused to give a misleading representation of the law.
It is safe to say that the retraction of the bill was caused by public uproar. The public has demonstrated its power, but it also needs to consider that building a railway to China is of critical importance. It will help boost production and exportation in Mongolia, which in turn will help out the economy. The public must not abandon reason because of preconceived notions, and consider the facts before condemning decisions that could be vital to Mongolia’s future.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=10294

Posted by on Jun 27 2014. Filed under Онцлох мэдээлэл. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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