Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Protest Reform: The Next Step Toward Clean Government?

As was reported in the UB Post last week, laws in Mongolia are changing to relax regulations on public protest:
Parliament is currently discussing changes to the law on public demonstrations that would relax the authorities'’ grip to some extent over controlling demonstrations and protests. The move is seen as long overdue by some parties, particularly the Just Society-Civic Movement, which has been campaigning for a change in the law since February.

The amendment under discussion was launched by Prime Minister Ts.Elbegdorj as a response to protestors'’ demands. Elbegdorj promised to make changes in consultation with the Just Society-Civic Movement. The revision is an attempt to bring the law more into line with the constitution, which states that citizens are guaranteed the rights of freedom of thought, opinion, expression, speech, press and peaceful assembly. Although there is a variety of opinions within the parliament, the general consensus is that the law should be changed to better meet the ideas of the constitution and respect people'’s rights.

The current law states that permission must first be obtained from the local governor before demonstrations can be held in public streets or squares. The new version proposed by the government would remove the necessity to gain permission and would instead require that the plan for the demonstration and the details of the organizers are registered with the local governor three days before the event.
This news is heartening in that it indicates that local politicians are proactively involved in continuing the liberalization of the political process, which must include freedom of peaceful assembly. As the past 15 years of elections and a proven track record of democratic reform indicate, Mongolia is well on the way to becoming a totally open society in terms of politics. More power to them!

What remains to be seen is a serious attempt to stem corruption. The recent election victory for the MPRP took place in part because of popular resentment of fraud and corruption widespread within the previous government. By all accounts, however, the MPRP is just as beholden to sleaze and graft as the government it's replacing.

To Mongolians, corruption is a way of life, a factor that shows no signs of disappearing. Government officials are always setting up friends, aggrandizing themselves and their partners, and are otherwise conducting themselves in a less than upright manner (not to say that we Americans don't have our own problems; but still, the scale of the problem here is vastly different). Personal accounts of corruption abound--my relatives were swappinging corruption stories around dinner a few nights ago. The stories would be funny if the weren't so enraging.

Light, it is said, is the best disinfectant, especially when the light is reinforced by peaceful protests (click here for an illustration from the Middle East). If the politicians won't listen to their consciences or have an interest in the greater good of their country, perhaps the people can provide some incentive for them to do so. Here's to transparency and to the hope that the protest reform has the unintended consequence of cleaning up the government.


Blogger samraat said...


4/04/2010 10:33 PM  

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