Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Parliamentary standing committee convened yesterday and discussed the DP's motion to impeach Bayar's administration. Of the 16 members at the meeting, 6 voted for and 9 voted against impeachment. President Enkhbayar called for the first session of the new Parliament on the 23 July. During the standing committee's session, according to news.mn, there were discussions and digressions to the 2004 incident, where the old Parliament and the newly-elected Parliament nearly held concurrent sessions due to disputes. Once the newly-elected MP's have taken their oaths, the old Parliament is considered dissolved.

News.mn has snippets from the transcript of the standing committee's session, which reads more like petty verbal attacks on each other by members rather than a parliamentary committee debate. Or is it because of my inexperience with parliamentary debates? Does this happen everywhere else? I have of course seen the youtube videos of Indian regional parliament fights (with MP's throwing their sandals at each other nonetheless), Taiwanese parliament fistfights and Russian politicians' hilarious water fights. But still, those should hardly be benchmarks against which we measure democratic government debates.

Many people, including the families of the gunshot victims and even MP Gun-dalai during the above-mentioned session, have been pointing out the lop-sided media attention on the damages and losses to arts & culture, while little coverage is given to the human casualties of the riots. Speaking of which, what of the ballistic examination of the bullets that killed those people? If the bullets were indeed fired from registered police arms, should it not be fairly easy to identify the weapon? Or rule out registered police arms?

According to an interview, published on news.mn, with the families of the victims, the families were handed out Tg 100,000 (approx. USD 85) by the Office of the President to cover the funeral costs of their loved ones. In the interview, they also claim that the government has handed out a separate Tg 1 million each (approx. USD 850) to the families of the victims. A brother of one of the victims calls the Tg 100,000 hand-out an insult and a government attempt to buy silence from its poor citizens.

On another, slightly alarming note, civil movement organizations (according to dailynews.mn) have announced their intention to hold a peaceful demonstration on the 21st July demanding the resignation of Justice & Internal Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil and Chief of Police Ch.Amarbold (they also demand that criminal charges be pressed against the two for the wrongful deaths during the riots), release of J.Batzandan and O.Magnai who are still in detention awaiting trial or some kinda decision / movement, and the resignation of General Election Committee chair B. Battulga and heads of other committees and organizations responsible for the election fraud. I am not very clear on who these civil movement organizations are (note: different from the Civil Movement Party, led by J.Batzandan and O.Magnai), but I certainly expect a demonstration protesting the violence and loss of lives on 1 July to be organized and non-violent. What does it mean to be an NGO or a civil movement group? Mongolian NGO's and civil movement groups are currently limited to releasing press statements demanding or urging for various measures on various issues, but the question is: how effective are they? And how much support or pressure do they get from the government?

So the conclusion is that we look set for a new MPRP government (then again, I think I wrote about this a couple of times), despite the DP's motion to impeach and threats to boycott the new Parliament by pulling out its MP electees. Like the Phoenix, the new parliament rises from the ashes of MPRP headquarters readying itself for another 4 years of surprises and disappointments for its frustrated citizens. I can't say I am looking forward to it entirely. Curious though in a voyeristic, can't-look-away-from-a-car-accident kinda way. Who wouldn't be.