Letter from Prison: Oyu Tolgoi underground mining project helped Mongolia to avoid financial default, by Ex-PM

Сайханбилэг зурган илэрцүүд
Former PM of Mongolia, Saikhabileg

I, Ch.Saikhanbileg, writing you this letter from incarceration unit no.461.
People who have never entered this prison probably will not understand misery of spending days behind barbed wire in crammed small room of the prison unit and suffering physical and emotional pain.

If really embezzled funds and committed crime, will deserve state punishment. However, it is frustrating to sit like this  for exercising one’s right given by Constitution and moving mega project needed for the country.

By moving Oyu Tolgoi underground mining project, first of all, Mongolia was able to avoid from budgetary, financial default which were to occur by end of 2016 and not discussed now. Oyu Tolgoi construction work ensures more than half of  current 5% economic growth of the country (3%). Number of Mongolians worked in Oyu Tolgoi that fell to 3000 has increased to 14 thousand and more than 1000 businesses and 41 thousand people given opportunity to expand their business. Foreign investment that reached minus 200 million dollars in a year increased to 1.5 billion dollars and Oyu Tolgoi underground mining investment accounts two out of every three dollars of this investment.

If did not move forward this project in 2015, we would have lost 400 million dollars revenue each year. Most importantly, if did not move forward in 2015, underground mining production can’t start in 2020. If did not start at that time, it became clear based on current political situation, most optimistic or fastest date for underground mining would have been 2025 or furthermore. Would have lost at least 5-10 years or more. 
Now, multiply it with 400 million dollars per year. This is just part of revenue to lose If our decision was not made. No one asks about this and no one is held accountable in Mongolia.

As PM, I have received task to move forward Oyu Tolgoi underground mining project from public. About 450 thousand people voted via SMS and 60% wanted to start this project soon.
Parliament already made 2 resolutions and tasked government to start Oyu Tolgoi underground mining project. During lengthy negotiation, Gov’t discussed this issue several times and then authorized relevant officials to sign Financing plan.

It is very special that the decision to move forward this project was made during coalition gov’t comprised of all political parties and forces represented in parliament. Then, it was officially presented to Parliament and answered questions of all interested lawmakers.  

After  the coalition gov’t changed, also answered questions of relevant lawmakers during Fall session of 2015.
In addition, Parliamentary minority demanded dismissal of government in Jan, 2016 based on this issue and majority of the parliament lawmakers decided gov’t should not be held accountable about issue of moving forward Oyu Tolgoi underground mining project. In another word, Parliament dedicated sufficient time for this issue and expressed its position.

I must mention something here. Moving forward Oyu Tolgoi underground mining project  and how to move it, are purely policy issues and Political decisions. Settlement of payment of this project and estimation of cost and whether to accept financial report etc were issues of political decision to be decided within the executive governance. 

If  government resolution and decisions were not complying with laws, it is said in article 45.2 of the Constitution and other laws that Gov’t or parliament will revoke these./At that time, Parliament didn’t experience this kind of issues/. 

In another word, according to Constitution, no one else but legislative and governance institutions will determine right or wrong of policy or political decision. If this main authority is transferred to judicial authority, power sharing principle will be lost and it will truly shift into constitutional crisis. 

In developed countries of America and England, there is established principle that judiciary do not review issues with political characterization.
For example, what if next parliament that don’t know  circumstances of 2017 decides to investigate right or wrong of Political decision to implement IMF program in Mongolia and receive 2.7 billion dollar loan in 2017 or not to implement it as gold, coal and copper price is on the rise and budget revenue is improving?  Will judiciary determine right or wrong?  Whom will they also detain and imprison?

Recently, PM of Mongolia said he will soon present political decision to move forward Tavan Tolgoi project. Can parliament support it unanimously with one voice?

Or ask judiciary to step in in case of disagreement?  Will imprisonment continue afterwards?   Oyu Tolgoi underground mining issue is exactly like these two issues. We can’t leave issue that continued through three parliament to three judges! 

If judiciary began to determine right or wrong of Political decision, we will have political prisoners n Mongolia again. Today, two PMs of Mongolia and former Finance minister  and relevant officials are deprived of their freedoms and imprisoned for making political decisions.
Therefore,  I’m delivering my request and opinion for you through this open letter.
One. For  Battulga, President of Mongolia, M.Enkhbold, Speaker of Parliament, Khurelsukh, PM of Mongolia and all cabinet and parliament members:
Two former PMs are imprisoned and became living victims of “Vyshinsky”theory for making political decision and exercising their full authority given by Constitution and performing their official duty. 
I ask you to pay attention to this issue as members of National Security council. (Vyshinsky was Procurator general of Soviet Union in 1930s who developed theory to extract confession from accused)

Politicizing, debating, hearing in parliament according to party caucus in Parliamentary hall and making political decision based on majority and minority votes, is one of the main authority provided under Constitution. Today, issue for legislative and executive governance to transfer its full authority deliberately or accidently to third governance has been emerged. Furthermore, it has become issue whether Parliament and government can decide big political and economic issues independently without outside interference. 
Not court, but parliament must decide right or wrong of the issue. I ask all parliament members to have common and strict position about this issue regardless of party and coalition affiliation.

I hope that Parliamentary working group set up to investigate Oyu Tolgoi issue will not be one-sided. I ask them to meet with members of working group that participated in the negotiation and listen and clarify their position in offices rather than in prison before making final conclusion.

Two. For Zorig, Chief justice of Mongolian Supreme Court, Enkh-Amgalan, chief state procurator and Enkhjargal, chairman of Anti-corruption agency:

I trust that you all have no desire or interest to transfer many complicated political issues usually discussed in parliament hall to district court and mix with politics. Therefore, I ask you to hold concrete position to prevent emergence of this kind of problems.

People imprisoned about this issue stated many times that they did not or will not run away and do not hold any official position and can’t commit crimes and shall respect law enforcement organizations and will fully cooperate. 

However, decision to extend imprisonment of these people have been made. Therefore, ask you earnestly to reconsider your punishment and imprisonment decision which is not understandable for society and us and which will not bring any result and make relevant decision.

I’m 100% confident that no official of Mongolian state did not take bribe for starting Oyu Tolgoi project and continuation of the project from large open and controlled company. I state responsibly that I will be responsible for any penalty if this has happened.

Three. All media organization, journalists, newspaper, magazines, TV, radio and online sites and thousands of active social media users:
I  come for investigation without completing cancer treatment of my younger brother when I was summoned by court out of respect for Mongolian state. 
I didn’t talk outside of court when I was imprisoned for 30 days without any need. I have been questioned only once about this issue during my 1 month imprisonment. 

Of course, like other  human beings, I want to keep peace of my old father, and hug and kiss my wife and children and especially my youngest daughter that believes her dad is in hospital and waiting. 

However, this is not just issue of me and other 4,5 people imprisoned here. 

This is about whether Mongolia will political prisoners, whether fundamental principles of Constitution is shaking, whether Parliament and government can operate normally, can it make decisions to implement large projects and programs that will bring development and whether what kind of society yours and our children will live.

As someone who truly believes that those who uphold humanity, justice and rule of law is more than those hired to defame others, I ask you earnestly to support continuation of Oyu Tolgo project which brought positive impact for the nation and economy without any hindrance and increase its benefit for Mongolia through your news reports, interviews and programs and posts, twitter.

Ch.Saikhanbileg, 28th PM of Mongolia, May, 2, 2018.     

Translated by Moninfo News Service


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