Former Chief of Staff of the President and Member of the Democratic Party (DP) P.Tsagaan explains why he forfeited the chairmanship election and commented on rumors related to the DP in the following interview.
Some people speculate that new DP chairman S.Erdene will not be able to make significant changes. What do you think of this? How much do you expect from S.Erdene?
I believe I made all the initiatives, rules, principles and calculation method for electing party members. For the first time in history, DP members elected their chairman democratically using the rules I developed. It’s my duty to support our new leader, who was elected based on that rule.
As for expectations for S.Erdene, it’s not like an angel has come down to help us out. We can’t borrow a foreigner either, so we have to do whatever we can with everything we have. Expecting everything to be resolved just because a new chairman has been elected is like waiting for god to answer all your prayers. Obviously, the person that will lead a reform is important. However, no one is capable of doing and knowing everything. We must form a good team, develop correct policies, and strive towards achieving it to meet society’s expectations.
If we learn from the past, calculate potential trials and develop a good policy based on it, S.Erdene can reform DP and lead the second wave of democracy, which can bring historic changes that can end changes of transition. I’m sure S.Erdene realizes his new responsibilities. I’ve known him for over 30 years. He has experienced both the good and bad, and knows how important party unity is.
I’d like to remind our members to be “master in one’s own home” and encourage them to prioritize party unity. I’m sure the five candidates felt this while campaigning across 21 provinces. However, this doesn’t mean to turn a blind eye on conspiracy or avoid criticism. There needs to be healthy criticism and competition.
You chose to resign from your position as the Chief of Staff of the President’s Office to run for the DP chairman position. Why did you forfeit the election?
I’m actually really satisfied right now. The DP showed that we can resolve chairmanship related issues through votes, instead of having less than 10 people negotiate it behind closed doors. For this, I gave up my work and traveled 7,000 km across 16 provinces, met 1,300 party members, and listened to their opinions, complaints and hopes.
Before I started speaking, they didn’t have a reason to elect a party member as chairman. I told them that we should change the rotten system where a group of people conspire and determine the chairman. Then, I traveled throughout the country to confide in members, who also agreed.
Those who were conspiring broke up when other members started to support this idea. Ultimately, we adopted a new rule to have the party chairman elected, which helped members realize their value to the party. This is the beginning of a very important work. A lot of what I initiated for the party has been added to the party rule, but there is more I’d like to add.
How will you do that?
The future of Mongolia depends on how the DP is reformed. I will always support DP’s reforms. I will criticize wrongdoings, conspiracy and things hindering our reform. If I’m told to do something, I will do it. I have enough experience and knowledge for it.
The general-secretary and deputy chairman’s positions are currently vacant. There have been rumors that you gave up the position of chairman because of an agreement that you’d become the DP’s general-secretary. Can you comment on this?
I can handle any job, but I don’t go around requesting for certain positions. For the first time in my life, I said I want to become the chairman during the recent election. In the past, people used to offer and assign me to specific positions. It doesn’t matter if I’m working for the party or government – all I try to do is repay people’s trust with effort.
I’m ready to accept any job entrusted to me. There’s not a single job I can’t manage. I can say this with confidence. For sure, teamwork is very important for executing tasks. We can’t make progress if people continue to oppose each other’s ideas and work. But I don’t think we’ll have a hard time communicating since we all united under the same principle. Even if we fight, we’re able to resolve it. Moreover, we’re no longer boys – we’re men now.
Party rule revision is the most important matter for the next DP meeting (the meeting took place on Sunday). Have you seen the rules submitted by other members? What did you think of them?
Honestly, I’m not fully satisfied with the proposed amendments to the party rule. I noticed a lot of things that could be changed, fixed, improved and even changed completely in our current rule. We should approve some necessary changes in the upcoming election and the new chairman should assign a team to develop rules for the long run. It could be viewed that the meeting is the start of a reform, not the end.
We need to make the DP a party that has internal democracy, maintains stable operation, constantly reforms, initiates development policies, trains new personnel, keeps finances and operations transparent, and reports finances. We will not be able to get long-term rules if the proposals developed by the working group don’t meet standards.
A DP member remarked that only unemployed or people who do the bidding of others do politics. What do you think of this statement?
It’s true. It’s very easy to change this – give back the right to become a candidate to ordinary people. All we have to do is endorse the law we had when the first democratic election was held in 1990. The state needs intelligent people. Right now, the ones running for office are people who have nothing better to do, follow someone’s orders, directors who want to promote their company, or a guy with a luxury bag. They can’t become real state officials. Politicians are increasing and state officials are becoming fewer. There’s not many people who put state interests above their own. Political parties must train good state officials through policy.
The current rule allows only party members to become legislators. Why can’t great scientists, teachers, doctors and generals become a Member of Parliament? This is partly why businesses aren’t developing. People who became politicians after overcoming a small hurdle are doing business with state work, causing burden to businesses and getting involved in crimes by stealing.
Political parties are organizations that aren’t bound to any law. Their finances aren’t transparent and aren’t audited. Bribers just lie and say they are donating money to the party, not to a specific person. Is it right to put people behind bars if they give money to someone, but looked over if they donate it to a party? Businesses with income of several million MNT are pressured to have their financial reports audited or face penalty. Yet financial reports of parties circulating several billions of MNT are excused from audit inspections.
Previous parliaments failed to pass the bill on political parties. Do political parties have the intention to pass this bill?
I can’t blame them. It’s better for them to not have their actions restricted by a law.
In general, Parliament doesn’t have to function the way it is. MPs don’t need to meet all the time. Now, we should establish representative offices for Parliament in every soum, get more members and not hold big meetings so frequently. In other words, Parliament members only need to meet once or twice a year for really important decision-making.
Every legislation we need has been passed in the past 30 years so MPs aren’t required to approve more. There’s no work for Parliament. MPs decide to repeal laws, which have already been discussed for four years by former parliaments, within four minutes and draft it from scratch. You can see that MPs are messing with the government, not allowing them to work. In addition, they initiate all sorts of things and approve laws that are far from reality.
Because of your close relationship with President Ts.Elbegdorj, a rumor sparked about you preparing a place for him to return to when his presidency ends. Is this true?
That kind of rumor started when I announced to run for the chairmanship of the DP. These rumors probably died out when I forfeited from the chairmanship election. I guess it’s not surprising that such rumors broke out. A person my age wouldn’t act that way because of someone’s order. The president was very surprised when I told him that I was going to resign from my position as his Chief of Staff because I needed to reform the DP. But he respected my decision.