D.Battsogt: Faction leaders negotiate among themselves and impose decisions on members

Trans. by B.DULGUUN

 The following is an interview with MP and the Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science, D.Battsogt, highlighting important aspects of the 2014 Spring Parliamentary Session and future plans of the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science.

During the closing of the 2014 Spring Session, you said some harsh words to leaders of parties and coalition groups in Parliament. Were issues of the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science listed on the agenda for the 2014 Autumn Session?

I only told them that there shouldn’t be cases of approving laws through negotiations between party and coalition leaders. If things are done in this manner, what’s the point of having 76 members in Parliament? Laws to be discussed in the following sessions have become dependent on [faction] leaders’ perspectives. For example, our standing committee submitted over ten legal drafts but only two were scheduled for discussion in the Autumn Session.

Important social issues should be tied to the economy and money. Laws related to them are being postponed. For instance, it was possible to approve government policy documents for medicine and medical equipment.

In the meeting of the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science, we finished the final discussion for the above legal draft and prepared it for approval. It only takes a few minutes to discuss and approve it during the session. However, this draft was left out due to pre-negotiated legal drafts and the provisions of faction leaders. If it was approved, it would have been put into effect right away.

How do you assess the outcome of the Spring Session?

I think many issues were covered during the Spring Session. It was a busy period with an overload of issues to be discussed and position related disputes. Concurrent to economic challenges and state budget revenue, there were many other problems.

Parliament approved many issues that weren’t planned within the boundary. For instance, issues concerning minerals and economy within the framework of the 100 day plan for intensifying the economy. From this aspect, the Spring Session was effective. Nonetheless, there were also many time-consuming things.

The “Double Deel” bill was able to come to the final stage for approval after half a year of discussion. The majority of the MPs are also in the government.

There are critics saying that the government has become more powerful than Parliament. It’s unfortunate that this sort of issue was talked about so much and then disposed of without any results. A considerable amount of time was wasted on matters related to the positions of ministers.

This sort of issue should be discussed within a week, and if the respective minister is to be dismissed, dismiss him or her. If not, then forget about it. Due to prolongment and breaks for many issues, it wasn’t resolved. It’s a fact that laws and provisions that would have been approved were deferred.

In conclusion, the outcome of the Spring Session was average. Besides accomplishing many things, there was an equal amount of questionable issues.

People are suspicious that MPs approved important laws during the last few weeks regarding issues of public interest and of the dismissal and appointment of ministers. Can you comment on this?

I agree that the case that was resolved as stated above. It was a session with strong politicization, party interests, and split groups. Everyone will agree that laws were rushed and approved hastily on the last day of the session.

If Parliament starts discussing a law, until the approval, everything should be decided in detail. MPs should be deciding things based on their own opinion. However,  all of this is now decided through agreements between parties. This is wrong. It shouldn’t be like this.

I hope these mistakes are fixed in the following sessions. It’s very unfortunate that MPs are giving more credit to the dismissal and appointment issues of other people instead of issues in front of them that are the legal drafts being processed for approval.

What kind of laws did the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science submit? How effective was the work?

Our standing committee had a big workload. We finalized the Law on Protection of Cultural Heritage and submitted the finalized Health Insurance Law for approval.

We worked very hard on government policy documents for education and organized discussion sessions. Outside of school, teachers are able to meet their students for discussions. We’re doing our best to develop laws that will benefit our lives when adopted.

Although we prepared government policy documents for medicines and medical equipment, it unfortunately didn’t receive approval. It’ll probably be approved in the Autumn Session. We also finished discussions for the Joint Pension Law.

We did a large discussion of the Domestic Violence Law and Pension Reform laws. For these reasons, I think the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science is working considerably well.

That’s why there isn’t any politicization or division during standing committee meetings.

What are you expecting to happen if the government policy documents on medicine and medical equipment is approved?

Chaotic drug trade and prices will be supervised and controlled. Activities of Medicine and Drug Administration will be improved. Unfortunately, party leaders approached this issue with their own agendas, so it was postponed.

Did you resign from your faction, the Justice Coalition, due to these sorts of issues?

There were many aspects where I disagreed with the faction leader. In my opinion, there shouldn’t be cases of faction leaders negotiating among themselves and then imposing their agreements on faction members.

If leaders start to make decisions for others and force them to follow, there’ll be no one to represent the people of Mongolia. In my case, I don’t want to follow someone’s orders or get compressed into a policy box, but be a representative of my voters.

Does it make a difference when you don’t have a faction?

At the moment, I haven’t faced difficulties as an independent member without a faction. Instead of being associated with a faction and compressed in a box, being the chairman of a standing committee is much easier.

I don’t discriminate against members based on their party. This side of me is better for members. Due to this, the operations of our standing committee are more progressive and less argumentative.

When you announced that you were withdrawing, there was a presumption that you’d be giving up your position in the standing committee. Do you have any comments on this notion?

I’m ready to give up my position as the chairman of the standing committee if the faction decides that they’ll change the chairman, as it was given to me under the Justice Coalition’s campaign. On the other hand, faction members want me to do my work until my term ends.

In the Autumn Session, what kind of issues will the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science discuss?

Our standing committee has discussed and transferred many issues for final discussions. For instance, there are government policies for science and education sectors.

Following the government policy documents for the education sector, there will be a significant amount of changes made to the Education Law. We’ll also be submitting several legal drafts, including drafts on the Health Law, Social Insurance Law and Pension Law.

Generally, the standing committee’s workload during the Autumn Session is heavy. In the culture sector, we submitted the Library Law, and we’ll renew the government policy on arts and culture. The standing committee will start a large discussion session on filmmaking.

The Mongolian government needs to focus on filmmaking. Foreign films are coming into Mongolia in large quantities. TV series that distort Mongolian history are being screened. Through these films and series, foreign countries are implementing their cultural policies.

Mongolia, on the other hand, is lacking in this aspect. Therefore, in the meeting, we discussed how much demand-supply for a series there is in Mongolia. We gave advice to the government underlining the need for parliamentary support on this. It’s also crucial to start installing funds in the state budget for filmmaking.

It’s said that the number of young men doing military service increased after the Mongolian series “Special Force”. In this manner, filmmaking needs to be developed. Furthermore, labor policy will be introduced. Like so, our standing committee has a lot to do.

Source: http://vip76.mn/content/26038


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