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G.Zandanshatar : To pardon corruption? To defend democracy?

Нийтлэлийн төрөл: Онцлох мэдээ, Авилга

G.Zandanshatar : To pardon corruption? To defend democracy?

 

By G.Zandanshatar  former Minister of Foreign Affairs

 

According to recent studies, in a report published by the Jubilee Debt Campaign, Mongolia is listed at eight out of 14 countries with high risk of a government external debt crisis. Political and corruption control, and an institutional and leadership crisis are the primary factors influencing this situation and leading to Mongolia following the footsteps of Greece. A constitutional crisis is also adding to these factors. The question is, what is to be done to overcome the crisis?

 

Surprisingly, during the height of summer vacation, Mongolian Parliament submitted a law on amnesty. The law was submitted in a closed session. Pardoning its citizens is certainly one of the seven great powers of the state, dating back to 1911. However, sneaking parts on bribery and corruption into the law has created public anger. The law was passed in a closed door session of the parliament on August 11, without the presence of the opposition parties.

 

The President himself has even blocked and vetoed the bill. Interestingly, the President’s veto and Parliament’s session on the veto are both nowhere to be heard of. The public is still waiting on the outcome, which will define the government’s reputation.

 

Has justice or injustice taken over society?

 

The Mongolian Constitution requires that the government ensure justice in society. Plato once defined justice as a “human virtue” that makes a person self-consistent and good; socially, justice is a social consciousness that makes a society internally harmonious and good. According to Plato, justice is a sort of specialization. Today, society is demanding justice. According to the Sant Maral Foundation’s Politbarometer, three out of every four people do not believe that there is justice in Mongolian society One out of every four people do believe that there is justice in Mongolian society.

 

In a society, the government’s branches and its checks and balances are supposed to ensure justice, as are the president, the parliament, the judiciary branch, and the political parties. However, public trust in these organizations and branches of government has fallen dramatically. Sant Maral Foundation’s Politbarometer shows the level of public trust in the government.

 

Has justice taken over society, or has injustice taken over society?

 

 

G.Zandanshatar : To pardon corruption? To defend democracy?

 

 

 

 

Table 2. Sant Maral Foundation. Politbarometer Number 14(48) April 2015

 

During this critical time, when the economy is showing a dramatic slowdown, Parliament’s action on the Amnesty Law has pushed public trust to its limit. The public views the action as the government’s effort to release criminals with bribery.

The Mongolian total external debt (including government debt, Bank of Mongolia, Development Bank, and the private sector) has reached 21.6 billion USD, and total government external debt (including domestic debt) has reached 10 billion USD. The Chinggis Bond’s 1.5 billion USD,  the Samurai Bond’s 30 billion JPY, and the Central Bank’s swaps make up most of Mongolia’s external debt.

 

None of the government’s spending projects have yet to be independently audited. No total amounts spent have been confirmed on any of the projects, including Development Bank of Mongolia’s projects, the price stabilization project of the Central Bank, and other major spending. The fact that these corruption possibilities and illicit financial flows were cited in the Law on Amnesty has resulted in  public anger.

 

To pardon corrupted government officials during this time, when the government’s debt is close to 80 to 90 percent of the GDP, is questionable, and at the same time creating chaos among the public’s perceptions. We need to reform Mongolia’s institutions to build a better society.

 

How can we get broad societal support for institutional reforms?

 

When most of the public believes that injustice has taken over society, it is very important for each and every individual to take responsibility. But one solution is to build a broad civil society coalition to unite against corruption and work for justice; across the dividing lines of political parties and professions, to combat corruption and ensure good governance.  It is our responsibility to unite, regardless of one’s political views, against corruption and in the name of justice.

 

I am applying to the Mongolian Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) to investigate and make public the inner workings of the Amnesty Law. I kindly request that other high ranking officials follow my example.  On my own initiative, I will be investigated by the Mongolian Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) for my all assets and income.  We are rallying the government, starting with the President and the highest ranking government officials, to be transparent with their work and with their income, asset, and financial statements. We have to build justice in order to regain democracy’s reputation among the public.

 

“Corruption is weakening Mongolian democracy and its development. Corruption weakens the support column of society, which is justice,” said Larry Diamond, a famous scholar from Stanford University. The quote was given during his speech, “The Democratic Recession and the Need to Strengthen Horizontal Accountability”, at a conference on constitutional ammendments and deliberative democracy, organized in May 2015.

 

Corruption-free democracy for civic unity

 

The other side of justice is responsibility. The word justice comes from the ancient Latin word “Justita”, and according to ancient Greek philosophy “Justita” means to solve a matter with fairness and take responsibility for ones actions.

 

The vertical dimensions of state responsibility is not in effect in Mongolia. In order to rebuild justice, we have to create strong horizontal dimensions of structure for state responsibility that are separate from the government, and have them monitored by the public. In other words, creating horizontal dimensions of state responsibility based on public power.

 

The structure of horizontal and vertical dimensions of state accountability allows for checks and balances, and gives powers to organizations, government branches and agencies. These include the IAAC, prosecutors, the courts, the police, the Human Rights Commission, the lawyer’s union, and the General Agency for Specialized Investigation.

 

The horizontal dimensions of state responsibility prevent corrupt individuals from abusing their powers, and gives power to others to investigate and punish such individuals. For example, the IAAC, the parliamentary monitoring commission, National Audit Office, prosecutors, courts, Election Commission, Human Rights Commission, Central Bank, Financial Regulatory Commission, and other agencies will be totally separated from the government and counter-check each other’s performance.

 

Hong Kong, Singapore, and former Soviet Union states, including Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Romania, have made tremendous accomplishments against fighting corruption in the past few years and to create strong institutions and horizontal dimensions of state responsibility.

 

Bribery is a crime. Justice is served when the individual who has committed a crime receives punishment  and takes responsibility for his or her wrongdoing, regardless of their personal or political powers. Any law must effect all citizens equally. The justice system must function, above all, in order for the state to be immune from corruption. Thereby, the public trust in the government will be improved and the country will be on the right track to successful development.

 

Based on these facts, we are rallying the public to join the movement “People’s power for corruption-free democracy”. We all have to unite, regardless of our political views, wealth, and status to fight the cancer-like disease called corruption. We are one nation and we must head in one direction to achieve true success and prosperity.

 

 

 

 

 

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