Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Many non-elected government officials resigned from their posts in order to run for election. The general public sentiment seems to be that of indifference, with public opinion of political parties at an all-time low. Some have even expressed desires to return to a single-party system. As my father remarked, the public has a short memory. It has not been 20 years since we had left the single-party socialist / communist system. As little as their faith is in the political parties running for government, the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party or the former Communist party is probably the least popular. Most expect the Democrats to win in this election by a landslide. People may have short memories, but it has not been too long since the MPRP's manouvers led to the collapse of the Coalition government in January 2006.

The current President N.Enkhbayar, a former MPRP member and leader, is without a doubt the least popular president Mongolia has had, while the MPRP Prime Minister S.Bayar has a reputation of being a Russian in a Mongolian skin. Bayar has expressed open admiration of Putin and is rumoured to have close ties with Putin administration and Russian oligarchs. One cannot help but notice the increasing Russian business interests and influences in Mongolia since Bayar took office.

An article of note:
Bayar also told the press that Mongolia is interested in building a nuclear power plant with the help of the Russian government who has "the best technologies" in this regard. As recently as last week, the PM held a meeting with Sergey Kiriyenko, Putin-appointed Director General of Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation. (Source: Daily Business News Mongolia).

What will happen to these new developments if (or perhaps when) S.Bayar loses his seat as the PM in June remains to be seen. It's hard to deny that S.Bayar has accomplished more in 7 months as a PM than some of his predecessors did in 2 years. And it's too early to say what the long-term implications of his many decisions will be. I, for one, support his proposed revisions to the minerals law, while I am not entirely sure about his plans for building nuclear power plants. I am worried about the long-term implications on the environment and high level radioactive waste that require careful handling.
We former Commies do not have a very good track record as far nuclear waste is concerned or anything nuclear is concerned. Chernobyl and Murmansk come to mind.

In other news, the parliament is pushing for 51% of Oyu Tolgoi, leaving 49% to Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe mines. The revisions to the mineral laws have not yet been approved, as the Parliament ended its session before the election. A change in government is unlikely to affect the decision regarding strategic national assets like Oyu Tolgoi, potentially the most lucrative copper deposit in the world.