Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Public Response to OT Deal

It is difficult to get a full picture of what the general public response is to the spreading news that a deal on Oyu Tolgoi may be nearing, but based on information in the online media and TV9 the response so far has been tepid. Although, that may be a bad way to put it, because it could just as easily be that everyone is waiting with baited breath to see what happens. It is such a hot political issue, though, one might expect an explosion of indignation at the way parliament has sprung yet another important decision on the public. Instead, there was a protest which drew, based on what seemed to me a liberal estimate on, about 60 people to Sukhbaatar Square today. The TV9 report made it look more like there were 16 old ladies and a couple of out of work jeep drivers at the protest. Not exactly what one would call a political force on the trajectory of the deal. Whatever one might say about the way politicians work here (see the previous post), they just might turn out to be effective tacticians in this case; that is, if the goal is to get an agreement finally signed without special interest groups derailing it once again.


Christian said...

For what it's worth, the mining industry is itself a "special interest."

But I'll still be glad to see the agreement finished. Any word on whether an English-language version of the final draft might be published online somewhere?

Brian White, ACMS Resident Director said...

Definitely true. I actually struggled a bit about what to call those groups. In Mongolian they call themselves хөдөлгөөнийхөн. How might you interpret this? "Movement" is a rather blunt way to do it, but it doesn't quite capture their essence. In fact, it makes them sound a bit more exalted and larger than they really are. I also am not a huge fan of the term "special interest," because as you point out in mining politics the mining companies are a special interest, too. Maybe in the future I should call them "Special Interest Civil Movements."

Not sure about when the agreement will be available. This morning we were commenting in the office how little news there is available about the deal. One might assume there is a top-down attempt to suppress the news, but I think it actually might be a collective desire to not jinx it by talking about it. In other words, no one except a very small minority wants to talk about it in fear of things falling through and disappointment reigning once again. I think it may be a society wide attempt to avoid some kind of deal closing curse.