Press Release – AmCham Mongolia urges a fight against the pandemic of corruption in Mongolia
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia – The American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia (AmCham Mongolia) organized its May Online Monthly Meeting as part of the “Ensuring Fundamentals” initiative and discussed Mongolia’s fight against corruption. The panelists were Mark Koenig, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation; Jargalsaikhan D., founder of DeFacto Institute; and Battsetseg Ch., founder of OneAct, a civic anti-corruption initiative.
The panel discussion was moderated by Jay Liotta, Chairman of AmCham Mongolia’s Board of Directors, and a Letterhead Partner at Mahoney Liotta LLP. Over 40 attendees participated in the online discussion, including representatives of AmCham member companies, and domestic and international businesses, discussing current perceptions of corruption in Mongolia, and sharing personal stories and experience with corruption.
In his opening remarks, AmCham Chairman Jay Liotta noted that in times of public health crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, society holds people accountable by being vocal about those who are not adhering to recommendations provided by health authorities. Yet, in times of problems like corruption, the public and private sectors fail to come together with the same effort being put forward to battle COVID-19.
The Asia Foundation’s Mark Koenig shared data from a recent survey on the public’s perception of corruption in Mongolia and highlighted that the results of the survey indicate that the public perceives corruption as a problem at the highest rates in the 12-year history of The Asia Foundation’s survey. However, Mr. Koenig noted that while it doesn’t necessarily indicate that corruption is at its highest rate in society, it definitely shows that the public is very much aware of the problem and the way it impacts all areas of life negatively, from school admissions to business transactions and tenders. He stated that there is a long road ahead with particular challenges, like the system of politics based on patronage and the long-term ramifications of basing public service positions on business transactions, which allow corruption to flourish and result in political instability, leading to the discontinuity of government policies.
Prioritizing and breaking down this big problem into achievable and tangible steps toward progress is the most logical approach to cleaning up this mess, as the current effort and resources are being spread too thin. Although civil society is active and engaged in fighting corruption, there is still no unified front within the government. The investigation and prosecution of crimes of corruption should have much higher stakes than they do today so that people will think twice before they decide to engage in these types of crimes.
After Mark Koenig’s outlook on the state of corruption in Mongolia as a whole, Jargalsaikhan D. offered his take on the dangers of not regulating political party financing to fight corruption. In his speech, Jargal noted, “The source of corruption comes from political party financing, and recent amendments to the Law on Auditing has cut the function of auditing that looks into political party financing, which leaves political party financing without any regulation.” Jargalsaikhan also highlighted that the DeFacto Institute was able to speak to party members and encourage them to question the source of party finances. He said they would continue this line of work, as Mongolia is about to experience the most expensive election in the country’s history, in which there will be no way to monitor how much each candidate is spending on their campaign. This creates a perilous situation for the state of the corruption, as elected members of Parliament who have spent billions on their campaign will have more incentive to engage in crimes of corruption in the future.
Battsetseg Ch., the founder of OneAct, shared her personal story of why she decided to start a civic movement to stay honest, ethical, and to encourage others always to do the right thing. The unfairness of a corrupt deal she was offered a few years ago struck a chord with her, inspiring her to reject corruption culture and to fight it by forming a reputable, vocal, and moral resistance movement.
Following the discussion, the panelists took part in a Q&A session and answered the audience’s questions.
In conclusion, AmCham and the panelists urged the public to come together and battle this pandemic of corruption, just like how the country has come together in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic so that we can cure the disease of corruption in Mongolia.
About AmCham Mongolia
AmCham Mongolia is an independent, membership-driven organization that seeks to build, strengthen, and protect business between the United States and Mongolia, and to promote Mongolia as a destination for American investment actively. AmCham Mongolia is the official local affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most significant business federation in the world with over 3 million member companies. AmCham Mongolia is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce, consisting of 29 American Chambers of Commerce in the Asia-Pacific region.