Chief of Staff of the President of Mongolia Z.Enkhbold spoke with Unuudur about a new documentary film, “Olnoo Urgugdsun Tur” (Exalted by All), among other state affairs in the following interview.
Why did the President’s Office request “Olnoo Urgugdsun Tur”, a feature film based on actual events, to be filmed?
It was aimed to correct and complete our history. The script was written based on archived documents by A.Baatarkhuyag and produced by Hero Entertainment. As there weren’t videos showing actual events, actors who resemble the historical figures were cast to make the film easier to understand and more interesting. For a period of time, Mongolians weren’t allowed to record their own history, and read, listened and believed the ideological history made up by foreigners.
It’s not right to exaggerate one event and undermine another when recording history. Everything should be written exactly the way it happened. However, the national revolution for freedom and independence in 1911 was made vague, making it seem like we established our independence in 1921 for the past 90 years. Lately, historians and researchers are saying a much more significant event occurred in 1911 than in 1921 – Mongolia’s independence was recovered through 1911’s revolution.
Since 2011, December 29 has been annually marked as National Independence Day. Mongolian traditional wrestling is held, the President’s Cup is awarded to the winner, and state titles and orders are presented on this day. As always announced before handing awards, it is the anniversary of the revivak of the national independence and freedom, people’s revolution, and democratic revolution, which means that it’s a huge, significant event. Did you notice how the date of the first establishment of the Constitution was stated in the film?
Olnoo Urgugdsun 13th year.
It’s proof that Mongolia became independent from Manchu and started its own calendar. Just like Japan starts counting years after a new emperor gets enthroned, we had our own way of keeping track of dates. People talk as if everything was re-established after the 1921’s revolution. That’s not true. As the symbol of unity and head of state, the president hoped to rectify the ideological history, create a truthful and complete history of Mongolia based on historic documents, and make the public aware of it in a very simple way.
If you have noticed, a few films made from the 1950s to 1960s are replayed every National Naadam Festival and Tsagaan Sar. There’s nothing else to show. “Olnoo Urgugdsun Tur” was produced in order to spread the real history in an interesting way that is easy to understand for everyone.
We will continue to believe the fabricated history unless an initiative to correct it is made. People of my generation have been learning the fabricated history ever since they were in middle school so they wholeheartedly believe that it is true. Studying history is very significant. We’re not dispersed herders. Knowing that our ancestors established an empire 2,200 years ago and being proud of it will contribute to developing patriotism in Mongolians. We are here now because Mongolia, which used to be the largest empire in the world a few hundred years ago, dispersed and its population and land was split to various pieces.
Even this history needs to be taught truthfully. A country cannot be without some kind of ideology. The USA is the most ideologist country. Their ideology is financed and produced by their tool, Hollywood. Every day, it sends the message that the USA is the top empire in the world to the public. Like so, we have to provide information to the public and help them become prideful of their country by knowing the real history.
The president’s announcement to use military officers and soldiers for construction work has received considerable criticism. What’s your opinion on this?
On the contrary, the public is supporting and commending the idea. It’s just a few people with foreign spouses who don’t know their history and have some kind of agenda are causing an uproar on Twitter. E.Bat-Uul seemed to have complained as well. You see, they need to read. Many public measures have made it possible to overcome economic crises in the past. This isn’t something the president brought up just now.
After 1929’s Great Depression, the USA took public measures one after another. Had Hoover Dam’s hydroelectric turbine generator in Las Vegas and Grand Coulee Dam hydroelectric power plant in Washington DC not been built between 1930 and 1945, the agricultural land below them would not have had an irrigation system and America’s agricultural sector wouldn’t have become as competitive as it is now. When most people became unemployed and rationed food, the construction of the two hydroelectric power plants provided jobs to thousands of people and gave them incomes.
The private sector couldn’t do it on its own at the time because it had gone bankrupt. The US government shouldered this work and employed the public, which not only gave people jobs and income but also helped overcome the economic recess. Moreover, the development of railways, roads and electric power stations became the stimulant for their upcoming economic growth.
People who are questioning Mongolia’s use of armed forces and intent to use soldiers for construction work should study these types of examples and practices of other nations.
France suspended its military conscription in 1997. Because this decision wasn’t reasonable and had many drawbacks, the military conscription was restored. French people realized that the military service is necessary for promoting patriotism and correctly leading the public.
Are you saying that the president is set on using the military force for construction work?
His stance on this matter remains the same. This is a decision made based on research. There are around 100,000 young men who are unemployed and don’t go to school. It was accounted that these people would work if they are given a free lodging in addition to a wage of a million MNT a month. What’s more important than money is that the military service will teach them patriotism and discipline.
Then, what will the private sector and businesses do?
The military force will be used for development works such as the road connecting Asgalt silver mine to the main road network. The private sector refused to construct the road with the projected budget so soldiers were contracted to do it instead. It was a difficult task. Vehicles had to take detour through Russian land because of the tall mountains obstructing the way to Asgalt mine. The private sector was asked to blow up these mountains to build a road but it wasn’t pleased with the offered money. And so, we gave the job to soldiers. They managed to complete the project on time with the projected budget.
I’d like to add one more thing here. The military conscription will be extended to three years and soldiers will have no choice but to work. The things people are saying about having the military force work without pay are false rumors. The president didn’t say such things.
What will be their terms of employment?
Our military force has no limit. As specified in the current law, contract soldiers can serve until their retirement age. After serving their mandatory military service, people interested in continuing to work can sign a contract and work as an instructor in a way with a wage.
Many soldiers who completed their military service at the border have signed up to become a contract guard. Like so, we’re trying to have soldiers build railways, roads, dams, and hydroelectric power plants on pay. Doing so will not make the military force “communist”.
Will Cabinet and Parliament support this idea?
The Mongolian National Security Council advised to take necessary measures from spring and submitted the draft decision to Cabinet and Parliament. This is not a decision made by the president alone – the council consists of three members. Since the economy has become stagnant, it’s essential to resolve infrastructure problems by creating jobs through public development work. We must start work immediately as the ground has started to thaw.
Parliament members are keen on amending the Constitution. One of the amendments they proposed is the termination of the president’s right to initiate new laws. What is the president’s and the President’s Office’s position on this matter?
The thing they are proposing wasn’t that significant. MPs are trying to restrict the president’s right to initiate laws and put vetoes. This cannot happen. All of the 65 MPs from the Mongolian People’s Party voted for the draft bill, pushing the bill’s approval with 44 percent of total votes. The president earned over 50 percent of all votes.
Here comes the question of acceptability. It’s not nice to mess with the recently-elected president’s power. Unless the new amendments to the Constitution is enacted in a way that it remains effective after the 2020’s parliamentary election and 2021’s presidential election, the government will become unstable.
People might even try to change the government once the Constitution is revised. We shouldn’t lead ourselves to such a thing.
A provision related to the president in the Law on Defense has been annulled. What was the purpose of this decision?
There was a technical error in the Law on Defense, revised in September 2016. A provision dedicated for Parliament was written under the chapter for president’s rights. It stated that the president will approve laws but the Constitution doesn’t allow the president to approve laws in the first place.
Was it really a technical error? Why didn’t the Constitutional Court notice this when the law was approved?
It doesn’t need to be fixed by the Constitutional Court. It was an editorial error. The standing committee or the MP who proposed the bill should have changed it. However, it was submitted to the Constitutional Court, making a huge fuss about it.