Former President N.Enkhbayar has given a long interview to Zuunii Medee. A selection from the questions and answers follows.
Today you are “citizen” Enkhbayar, no longer in the government. Still you went to the help of herders as head of an NGO called Countryside Development, traveling in the snow at a time when those who promised to have one soul with people are barely moving their fingers. Why then are there rumors that seem to find fault with your gesture?
The herders were extremely happy with my concern for them, and made me feel the truth of the saying “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” I just couldn’t sit at home watching on TV day after day how livestock and people were dying. I thought if I gave the lead, some officials will follow, maybe out of embarrassment, maybe out of the right urge. I am happy this has indeed happened and others have begun their way to visit herders in trouble.
I did not go simply to distribute flour, rice, matches and tea. I learnt many things in detail. Many herders told me they are stuck with unpaid bank loans and cost of children studying in
A frequent query was why the Government cannot take precautions against the winter and take steps before the damage is done. It is common knowledge that a bad summer is followed by a harsh winter. So they ask why the state could not buy livestock in the summer to supply to schools, the army and to organizations. It is clear that government organizations and officials lack initiative. This is inevitable when people work without commitment. The natural disaster was compounded by irrational governance and irresponsible response.
Another big issue is the state of the state veterinary system. Privatization of veterinary services has done incalculable harm to livestock breeding and quality, affecting herders’ income. Only 150 out of 2,000 animals to be sold to
We should not forget that livestock herding is a profession and skills are needed if it has to be pursued profitably. The Ministry of Education should arrange for herders to attend courses on their profession at universities and professional training centers. Just growing up with animals does not turn children into efficient herders. When I was President, I arranged with the
I have sent my ideas to the Government and hope they will be considered seriously and appropriate action taken. Thousands of households are waiting for assistance.
Let’s talk about politics now. Your first splash was 20 years ago when you opposed every proposal at an MPRP general meeting, daring to go against the entrenched leadership. You were the only one to show such courage. What made you defy the party leaders, instead of meekly toeing the line as was common practice?
I felt that was the right time to reform the way the MPRP worked if we were to bring it in tune with the times, both in and outside the country. I had watched how the ruling left wing parties in the so-called post-socialist countries had managed to make complex internal reforms. Monolithic parties of
It is difficult to be a sole dissenter in a big hall. But, doing wrong things is much worse and a man has to fight for what he believes to be right. Such an opportunity comes but rarely, when a man can assert the independence of his thinking. That the majority does not always make the right decisions was proved at the election of 1996.
But remember, I opposed policies, not individuals. Many still think that I was against them. We must not confuse a man with his work. I look at it differently. I do not give up on anybody because of an argument with him, or because he made a mistake once or even when he treated me very badly. I seek the cooperation of all who are good at work and thus can be of help. I believe people rise above their weaknesses if they are absorbed into a proper cause. Working together brings out everybody’s strengths.
This is exactly how the MPRP transformed itself after the election of 1996. The big debt to
In an interview in MNB TV you said you did not accept the Presidential election result and conceded defeat only out of concern for public peace. Much has been said about how some in your party, including its chairman S.Bayar, worked ostensibly against you. For example, the Zuunii Medee press printed 700,000 copies of a special commissioned pamphlet called “People’s President” during the campaign but it now appears the party distributed this among only a tiny percentage of voters. When you told reporter Sh.Gurbazar you would be revealing all the truth, some were happy but others panicked and began attacking you.
It is now clear who the mastermind was behind the sabotage. Maybe it was wrong on my part to have kept silent until now about the secret truth behind the Presidential Election. I have now changed my mind. Interestingly, the MPRP chairman and head of the election campaign HQ, S.Bayar himself was the first to give false information to the media. A lot of false information was spread because it is easy and does not have to be documented. Repeat anything a few times and people will take it as the “truth”. As against this, the real truth requires proof and it takes time for the evidence to emerge. Even so, truth finally prevails. That is why I have now decided to reveal the truth about the election even though some months have passed. This has helped place several events in proper perspective.
Many irregularities were committed. I thank the people for choosing me again as the State Head. I assert that I won nationwide but fraud in six districts changed the outcome. Talk of electoral frauds is common with us. The July 1 incidents occurred because of such talk. But while previously parties accused one another, this time a handful of MPRP leaders conspired to make their own party’s candidate lose, betraying the party members and supporters who had worked tirelessly for the victory of the party and its nominee. It now seems the fraud to be practiced in the presidential election was rehearsed in some constituencies in the 2008 parliament election.
When I was the Party head, there were cases of some leaders trying to block others from becoming a candidate or, even more dangerously, working against them. It is the job of the party chief to see that those in the party administration do not work under such personal prejudice. That is what I consistently urged. Everyone worked in unison to make sure the party candidate won. For the eight or nine years that I was the party Secretary General or Chairman, there was not a single instance of an MPRP defeat in an election for such reason. It was nothing great. That is the least a party head should see to.
I do not wish to challenge the DP victory even though it did not happen. But I cannot remain quiet about certain MPRP leaders, including S.Bayar, who organized this fraud or at least did not stop it even though they knew of it. The coach trained the opponent’s wrestler! Unless we see an end to this, our party will continue on its way to suicide, sooner or later. What chance is there for a party working against itself? Why have a party if its leaders deliberately betray its candidate?
Several factors made me decide to concede. Please recall that I did not say I accepted the people’s verdict. I said I honored the results announced by the GEC. They are different, right? We all know how the GEC works and how its declarations do not always reflect the real results of the voting. Anyway, when I said I shall concede, S.Bayar was very happy, and went to inform the administrative board. Then he told me some members there had cried because N.Enkhbayar had lost and he had been the best choice. Soon after, Bayar tells Undesnii Shuudan that the party had chosen the wrong man and even said that I had failed the thousands of members. It would be closer to the truth if we say the Party Head had failed the thousands of members who worked night and day for the party’s victory.
Secondly, public peace was more important than my clinging to power. I thought the truth could wait but we could not risk triggering disorder that could endanger people’s lives.
Thirdly, it was clear that to me that the party administration did not want the truth about the election to be revealed. A party document prepared when I was chairman clearly said, “If the party fails to be successful in a parliament or presidential election, the party head and the administrative board shall resign.” But when it was discussed in the 25th general meeting the reference to the Presidential election was omitted, at the behest of S.Bayar. The inevitable conclusion is that he was planning his moves even before the election.
Then came the Chingeltei district by-election where it was clear that a few people, especially S.Bayar, plotted against me. I had not thought about running in Chingeltei but kept receiving requests to do so from party members, some MPs and, most important, from the voters there. Several surveys showed that I had the best chances of winning. I had by then understood that the secret behind the presidential election will never be revealed if I remain silent and figured that getting a people’s mandate will strengthen my case when I finally would talk. So I agreed to fight for the party’s nomination even though I guessed Bayar would do everything he could to deny this to me.
At the meeting to nominate the candidate, I was not permitted to make a statement and my question about the results of voters’ surveys was not answered. It was embarrassing how they had reached agreements with the DP. Many people heard Bayar say, “Our party does not get more than 40 percent of votes in UB”. This is certainly not true. The MPRP has always got 60-70 percent of votes in district and metropolitan elections. What percentage did the MPRP get in the by-election? It was 60-70 percent. A candidate who had a rating of only six percent won by 60-70 percent, so why did they think a man who had 45-48 percent rating during the Presidential election would not get the required 51 percent?
He hastened to give interviews to newspapers so as to emerge from the water dry. I was still not sure whether to reveal the truth. It has taken me time to understand that for the sake of truth I cannot remain silent.
People well know that the DP did not exert itself in the by-election. This is because they had already struck a deal before the Presidential election. They lost an MP but gained a President and were happy.
It does not help if the finger of blame is forever kept sheathed. The Presidential election was seriously flawed but I do not accuse the DP or its candidate of any wrongdoing. I blame S.Bayar for masterminding the fraud, causing more harm to the party than to me. It is significant that the result of the presidential election has never been discussed in any party forum. The only explanation for the defeat so far offered is that the “wrong person” had been nominated.
There were perhaps a lot of reasons why the DP candidate was allowed to win. Maybe the July 1t incidents were one. Nobody has yet been found guilty. If the truth ever comes out, will it indict Bayar and Elbegdorj? They were the two party leaders who failed to douse the public anger, and it is also not clear if they wished to see the protest end peacefully. There is talk that they reached the deal on the presidential election in order to keep the truth hidden. Significantly the issue has been allowed to lose importance after the presidential election. Another curious point is that Bayar has charged Elbegdorj with backing away from their “agreement” to change the constitution to allow Parliament to elect the President, and not the people. Does this indicate that Bayar’s goal is to deny the people the power to select the state head?
Another question arises in my mind from this. What was arranged for the president to do on taking office? If the election had been fair and I was reelected I would have had two lists: one of things I wanted Parliament and the Government to do, and another of things that I will not allow them to do.
The first list included implementing the “three 15s policy”: making the economy grow 15 percent each year for 15 years, and ensuring USD15,000 as per capita GDP. I would also have worked to make school tuition free, to give MNT1.5 million to every citizen on the 20th anniversary of democracy and to get control of 51 percent of Oyu Tolgoi after a certain period of time.
As for the second list, I would not agree to accept the Monrostsvetment debt of USD 180 million. I would also not have agreed to withdraw the child money and other allowances before giving the MNT1.5 million. I would not have made the 20th anniversary a celebration of a few people, not honored people connected with Zorig’s case, and allowed the July 1 incidents to fade away.
Millions of dollars have been lost to the State. Billions of MNT were spent on giving money to elders and children. I settled the great debt to
Our young democracy will die if elections are not made honest. A system where liars win is not a true democracy. Politicians seem to think people will forget if they themselves forget all their lies. But even if some people forget, there will be many to remember.
What changes have you made in your work and life? Does being out of office help in getting fresh ideas?
Even though my work load has been reduced by a certain amount, I have a lot of work in connection with the New Street NGO and also the
There is a lot of reading to do. A man cannot develop himself without learning how to be self-critical. It is better to criticize yourself before others do. Politicians and government officials must keep themselves fit with sports, and stay away from alcohol, gambling and such things. They must spend time in worthy pursuits. Speaking of alcohol, I ask people to remain sober when they talk about the nation’s future. Drunken men are full of self-praise or make complaints about past grievances, instead of talking about work. I am told, “People won’t reveal their soul unless they drink.” This is true only of cowards and irresponsible people who fear to open their heart when sober. A man who is drunk does not have the right to drive but our senior officials drink when they decide the country’s future.
What happened to a survey of politics, society and the economy you commissioned last summer?
The survey was made by an independent organization and covered the capital city as well as four provinces. We are examining the findings carefully.