After reading this piece, I ask you to think seriously about this quarantine and deliver your own opinions to the Government and NEMA. Since Mongolia has a government system which is a functioning democracy, if defined in a positive way, but a populist administration in a rather negative tone, people’s wishes and government policies have to be mutually inclusive. In my opinion, we need to ease the quarantine, and implement partial and gradual lifting of those restrictions
Life will prevail
Due to the coronavirus panic, the natural way of things are being ignored. When a human being is born, both life and death begins simultaneously. At the every living moment, a person also gradually keeps dying. Some moments are more pleasurable but they’re also risky. We go travelling knowing that it involves some risk of accident, eat sth delicious knowing the cancer-causing effect of that food, and experience those moments and at the same time get closer to death.
Government is responsible for reducing those risks, but has no right to bring it down to zero, since life and death is an inseparable whole and stopping one means literally denying the other. That’s why the government provides the road safety measures, but doesn’t totally ban the travel. They set and enforce the food standards and work to reduce air-pollution, but they cannot prevent people from eating and breathing. Ever since humanity invented a system called government, all those institutions had been seeking the balance between controlling the risks and allowing the freedom of living, and deciding to what extent they should participate.
Covid-19 has caused a major shock in the search of this proper balance, not only in Mongolia but all around the world, because this virus can spread through the airborne route regardless of individual person’s choices, and the death rate has been relatively high compared to the similar respiratory diseases. For this reason, governments around the world have an unprecedented participation or intervention in people’s lives, and have been trying all sorts of measures to contain the virus. These measures are followed by 2 inevitable dilemmas. One, restricting people’s movement can reduce the spread of virus, but it increases other risks such as poverty. Since it is the 1st major pandemic experienced in today’s complex world that relies on extensive communication & movement of people, it has been very hard to estimate the implications of those measures. Two, people’s natural inclination or right to live, carrying the potential risks, is now hampered by government’s authoritative actions in an unprecedented manner. It causes wide-ranging discussion, debate, even protests.
Natural way of things always prevails. The initial shocks are now gradually absorbed, and on the global level harsh restrictive policies and measures tend to be eased. According to the Oxford Database that tracks the government policies and response measures, the international average of the Stringency Index reached its peak in mid-April, hitting 80%, then gradually goes down, currently at about 60%. For Mongolia, this index is now 85.2%, the highest among the countries that suffered worst from this pandemic which resulted in thousands of people’s death. That means we are living under the most restrictive conditions.
In Mongolia, government will have an upper hand
Initially people supported the plan that aimed at containing the virus in shortest possible time. But unfortunately, as it’s always the case in Mongolia where things can easily get out of hand, now it has become unclear whether the government is to trying save us from death or fighting against the Life itself.
First, the people who stuck in foreign countries have become the victims of our government’s ineffective management. In order to reduce the risk of certain part of population, we have sacrificed the other part, uncivilly violating their constitutional rights. This was a shameless act of Mongolian Government in the history of human rights record of this country and in citizen-to-State relationship, maybe left in history as a climax of our selfishness. Second, functioning of the key life sustaining institutions, like market, are being interrupted
and disturbed in a too damaging and careless manner. Private sector businesses have a hard time for a whole year, and now they’re struggling just to barely survive. But some of them are being punished by hefty fines for not complying with the quarantine rules. Third, even individual behaviors of people--that have nothing to do with the pandemic--have been restricted. The decision to ban buying and selling of alcoholic beverages seems to show “what our government has really become” rather than the question of what alcoholic drink is. In short, the current administration is acting like a rude intruder, interfering with the daily aspects of our personal lives, whenever they want to. There’re at least three reasons for this.
Crisis of competence: Lack of rational yet flexible policy making, thus resorting to rigid restrictive measures only
Ideological inertia: Long entrenched communist-style leadership that tends to suppress people’s will, rather promoting mutual trust
Political interest: Measures induced by election cycle. Tendency to seek a short-term political advantage by focusing on immediate containment of the virus and protecting public health, while ignoring the over-arching issues like economic viability and education. This course of action is relentless, and they seem to be good at preparing public psyche for their desired end.
In the meantime, according to Mongolian Chamber of Commerce, 72% of private sector businesses lose their sales revenue by more than 91%, and they can’t sustain their activities longer than a month, if current restrictive measures remain in tact. Attempt to curb the risk of just one aspect of life is causing an oversized adversarial impact on the business normalcy and education, and now the consequences are about to spread to loan repayment, banking sector, and the overall system. The danger of poverty and economic crisis is that, once gets out of control, it can have much more damaging, and long-term lingering effect for the entire country. We, as a country that has a positive reputation on the international arena for its peaceful transition to democracy, and with a relatively healthy political system in the region, have other values to protect beyond just public health issues. Unfortunately, the current turmoil breeds some extraordinary foolish demands like postponement of loan repayment, zero-interest rate savings, etc. that can exceed the realm of business & economics, and may even turn into a sort of “pandemic” in the mindset & thinking modes of people.
In Mongolia, every year roughly 10,000 people die from cardiovascular and cancer-related diseases. That’s about 60% of total causes of death. In other words, in the past, we lost 6 out of every 10 lives because of these two types of diseases, and still managed to keeping going without stopping the life of society. Now statistics shows that if this pandemic spreads to 10% of population, 1480 people might die from it. Considering this fact, we have to ask ourselves the question, “How far should we allow the government to go, interfering with people’s lives and enforcing restrictions?” It is not a thing government would decide by itself, rather they should listen to the citizens’ opinions. Instead of government-enforced quarantine, self-imposed restrictions by people who know their own risk can be another choice. Even I myself might die because of this pandemic, but I prefer a condition in which I choose my own death rather than being oppressed by the government and become a living dead. Today is the day Mongolia proclaimed itself as a Republic. So we should not forget that…by choosing this form of Gover nance, we stood up for Freedom where our lives, sufferings, and deaths are caused by our own actions rather than some authoritative regime. Don’t forget it even under the conditions of pandemic, unrest, or war.