76 Columbus’ from the Banana Republic

The time has come for us to be straightforward and call the things that have names by their names, just like livestock are given different names based on their looks. In a country where lawmakers put their personal interests above the job they are supposed to do, all profits from economic activities are only shared by small groups of individuals, whereas ordinary people are given the burden of repaying debts that are not theirs.

Such a state might look democratic from the outside, but its government has already become a tool operated by a few individuals who use the name of their political party to get wealthy and improve their own livelihood. As a result, ordinary people are never able to improve their living standards, no matter how hard they work. People eventually see their life go past them while they keep losing faith in their government after every election. The basic requirement for the development of Mongolia is a government without corruption, rather than the prices in the mineral market. The process of creating a corruption-free government has lately been given the name “towards a smart government.” However, a smart government must start with a transparent political party.


In the beginning of the 20th century, the American writer O. Henry first used the term “Banana Republic” to describe certain Latin countries whose economy was mainly dependent on a single product: bananas. The governments of those countries became fully influenced by the banana business and served those interests only.
The U.S banana market was controlled by a single company that eventually dominated the markets of Latin American countries, where there was cheaper transportation and labor costs and a favorable climate to grow bananas. The monopoly bribed the high-ranking government officials of those less developed countries to make favorable decisions that kept their costs low. The politicians of those countries put their own interests before the interests of their citizens.
Mongolian political parties that have obtained ruling power by winning elections never reveal how their campaign expenditures have been funded. Wealthy people who have never been members of winning political parties can buy high ranking positions, as long as they make big enough donations to winning political parties. How can you explain the fact that no one, either the political party or the public, raises this issue for discussion? These individuals conspire to issue land permits and mining licenses illegally to obtain huge amounts of money from both national and foreign parties. Afterwards, they use a part of the huge sum to make donations to a political party in return for their protection. Who is going to put an end to this trend?
A country where there is a corrupt government is called a banana republic regardless of whether they actually grow bananas or not. What other name would be more suitable to a state that is afraid of talking about reality and keeps the press quiet by paying them and establishing secret agreements?
Lawmakers of a banana republic excuse themselves from abiding by the law. A private sector employee will be fired straightaway if he skips work days, constantly comes in late for work or disappears for days without letting anyone know where he is and what he is doing. However, it is a completely different case if you are a Member of Parliament in Mongolia.
Almost every newspaper has reported that Members of Parliament participate most actively in issues regarding their self interests, such as budget allocation and appointments.. When other topics for discussion are on the table, they don’t bother attending the assembly, ignore their primary responsibilities and travel abroad, sparing only the tiniest amount of time to visiting the electoral district they represent.


Lately, Mongolians are having a hard time understanding what the job of a Member of Parliament is. How could we, ordinary citizens, understand what their job is when the Members of Parliament themselves do not get it? What happened in the last few days proves it. The Members of Parliament stopped going to assemblies because they can no longer understand what their job requires of them.
Parliament sessions, standing committee meetings and working group meetings have constantly been postponed due to an insufficient number of members in attendance to reach a quorum. As a result, the decision-making processes have been greatly slowed and parliament has become unable to function. Having moved out of his depth due to the increasing disappearance of Members of Parliament, the Speaker has taken disciplinary action by recording attendance with fingerprint scanners and requiring the MPs to speak in the order of their fingerprint scanning. He intends to stop the usual practice of those who leave their ID card with their neighbor and having their attendance recorded by and votes cast in absentia. It is really amusing that they can even “Mongolianize” parliamentary sessions.
We attribute Christopher Columbus’ name to people who have no idea about where they have gone, where they arrived, and where they were afterwards. Poor Columbus got lost on his voyage to India and ended up discovering a new continent without realizing it. Mongolian Columbus’ do not know why they go to work, what they are doing there, and what they have done when they return home in the evening.
Their line of work has the name “legislative branch” written all over it. However, our Columbus’ go to an entirely different place called the “executive branch”. They also tend to freely choose any of the two as their first destination; so many other people sit there waiting in one place, when they are in the other. The difference between the Parliament of Mongolia and the Government of Mongolia only exists on paper. Our country today has 16 ministries and 19 ministers who are all members of parliament except two. One member of parliament is “doing” two jobs at the same time, although each of the jobs require more work than one person can properly handle.
On some rare occasions, our Members of Parliament show their faces to the people and manage to sit through an afternoon long enough to raise their hands and pass some laws. However, the laws they come up with have lives of a few months and most of them tend to interrupt normal business operations, hold the private sector back and disrupt free competition, which is supposed to be the basis of a market economy. It is embarrassing to kick the foreign investors out, then chase after them and beg them to come back with fake smiles on our faces. This is the quality of the laws the MPs make, and their most important job is making laws.
In this country, there is no mechanism whatsoever that holds these Columbus’ accountable when they do not show up for work, or fail to do their job when they do show up. This institution that bears the name of “parliament” is currently formed by a few empty palaces with fancy designs, and some disgruntled employees at the Secretariat.
As the overall capabilities of our ministers and MPs are weak, we must prepare them and grow their capabilities before having them make laws. International organizations send officials abroad to help them gain more experience. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank are lobbyists who are notably good at it.
Most of the Columbus’ hardly file any reports for those experience-gaining trips. For them, it is nothing more than a good tourism episode. It has been written in the press that after having international organizations pay for their expenses, some MPs (with their names and positions explicitly stated) went shopping when they were supposed to be attending meetings as representatives of the government.


A decision to ban officials, except for the Prime Minister, from serving as a minister and a Member of Parliament at the same time is expected to be made shortly, giving us some faith that governance can be cleansed. Furthermore, if financial reports including revenues and expenditures are produced by political parties every year, they will stop trading positions and power. The citizens of Mongolia demand to suspend political parties from elections if they fail to produce a financial report and refuse to have an independent audit done.
The next step should be having our Members of Parliament write reports on their international visits, including where they went, who they met and what they talked about, and publish the information on the parliament’s website as well as their personal websites. This is an ordinary task of Members of Parliament in countries where democracy flourishes. Although there exists a National Security Council recommendation for Members of Parliaments to write reports, there is almost no Columbus who accepts the recommendation. Even the real Columbus sent a letter to King Ferdinand of Spain in 1493 to report his discoveries, even though he was mistaken in thinking he reached the Indies.
We, the citizens, have the right to know whether our wealthy Members of Parliament are managing interest rate risks by purchasing assets abroad, or taking care of their health by escaping the smog of the capital. It is only right to know what those people who represent us are spending our money on: Who they are meeting with and what they are doing?
Columbus’, you need to leave your hideouts and do your job.

Translated by B.AMAR

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=7071

Posted by on Dec 22 2013. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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