Interviewee ID: 990080
Parent's name: Dondov
Year of Birth: 1940
Notes on education:
Born in: Saihan sum, Bulgan aimag
Lives in: Bayangol sum (or part of UB), Ulaanbaatar aimag
Mother's profession: herder
Father's profession: herder
To read a full interview with Lamjav please click on the Interview ID below.
Summary of Interview 090102A with Lamjav by Khishigsüren
D. Lamjav is one who started to become a publicly known person when the democratic process of 1990 started to flourish in Mongolia. He is not only one of the founders of the Mongolian Social Democratic party, but the history he has told is irreversibly connected with the origin of the democratic socialist movement. He told how the teachers who worked at the first building of the MNU or ‘the building with the monument’ were drawn to the democratic movement and the precise reasons why they were more active. Also, he has been named ‘citizen Lamjav’ in the past ten years among Mongolians. He has complained to the Constitutional Court on several vital issues and he has won the cases, therefore the public started to call him in such a way.
Besides the interview of Citizen Lamjav, his relatives living in Saihan sum of Bulgan aimag, their children who are herders, his classmates who completed secondary school in Bulgan aimag in 1959, several classmates who made great contributions to the development of Mongolia of the twentieth century, and several acquaintances who are the well-known people of Mongolian society gave interviews for the twentieth century oral history project.
D. Lamjav was born in 1940 in Saihan sum of Bulgan aimag. His childhood was spent similar to other herders’ children assisting his parents in tending the livestock and playing around. His father was a caravaneer. In 1945 his mother suddenly got sick and her health deteriorated. They came by camel caravan to Ulaanbaatar to get medical care for his mother and Lamjav was five years old then. He came with them to the city. On the way he observed the surrounding environment with the eye of a little child of a herder’s family who had never been away from the cattle pen. He recalled all that he had remembered and it was an especially interesting story. He talked in detail about the first building and the first car he had seen. The present Fine Arts Museum, the ‘tall store’ of that time looked massive and great to the child’s eye. In this part of his interview he recalled the social condition of the countryside of that time, the living conditions of the herders, the cooperative, the literacy process in the commune period, and the ‘red injection’ period.
He went to school at the age of nine and he enjoyed studying there. The bag darga approached him when he grazed his sheep in the pasture land and said, “You will go to school.” He gladly accepted it. Hence he studied well and he sought education until he started teaching at the MNU. The countryside schoolchildren of when he first entered school lived in a felt ger dormitory and their parents provided the dormitory with firewood and meat. The teacher had Lamjav copy the class lectures. He talked extensively about his funny reminisces about how the art and artistic works were carried out, who participated in them, what was the impression of the films and concerts of that time were. He played chess a lot, often took part in sports, skated, and talked about what the children of the dormitory exchanged between each other during the ten years of his life there.
In 1959, when he was completing the tenth grade, the collectivization movement was at the final stage and since he was a herder’s child, he was well aware of this process. Before the collectives there was an attempt to establish communes. The herders with private livestock have been scared by the so-called ‘official regulations’ tax burden. The number of the livestock was determined very accurately and the official regulations norm was set. It was a very great burden for the herders that the tax had to be paid as it had been set. Because of this there were cases when the herders had to cut off the lining of their deels to fulfill the wool norm. There were many people who gave away their livestock to the collective and became content that they had escaped from punishment and got rid of the livestock they could be penalized for. He also mentioned about the good and bad things of the lives of the collective herders.
Since his student years Lamjav had been a student with rebellious views. He went to Moscow to enhance his qualifications at the Moscow Sate University in March of 1989. Then, Moscow had changed very much. Demonstrations flourished everywhere and he went to watch them not missing out any of them. Baasanjav, Hatanbaatar, Baabar were together in Moscow then. They used to meet and talk about the events but they never organized anything. They were the people who had sensed it was necessary to establish the ‘Podhodnaya Organizatsiya’ (approaching organization). On his return from Moscow he became quite sophisticated about this issue. He recalled he came back having become kind of rebellious. Around 1988 he used to talk for five minutes to the students before the classes about ‘perestroika’ and politics. He said the students took it in a positive way. On the third floor of the school he issued a wall newspaper and hung various translated news and articles. Sometimes a group of people gathered there to have a meeting. Even the mathematicians and the physicians of the Academy of Science gathered together with the teachers and the students. In this way the Democratic Socialist Movement was formed on January 1st of 1990 and the so-called Proclamation of the Democratic Socialist Movement has been issued. He feels that then and there one could see somehow the level of thinking of those people. For the first time the Democratic Socialist Movement raised the issue of the Constitution saying, “There’s nothing wrong in discussing it together.” In spring of 1991, the State Baga Hural published and displayed the draft Constitution to be discussed by all the people. At that time the Revolutionary Party considered that the issue of Law on Increase could be related to you. In this way he talked very extensively and accurately the history of how the first Democratic Constitution was approved.
The big achievement of democracy was privatization, he said and he approved of this process. He briefly mentioned the repression of 1937 and the events happened around his relatives.
Summary of Interview 090102B with Lamjav by Khishigsüren
Lamjav thinks perestroika in the Soviet Union and Gorbachev’s reforms had a great impact in his life. He felt that elimination of private property might have been the big mistake of communism and, having read the article of the Russian thinker N. Berdyaev, he gained conviction about this issue.
He told about first entering University, what kind of sports he used to take part in and the achievements he gained. He took part in the competitions as a student and went abroad. He has even been to Finland and he told what the peculiarities of the capitalist nation were and what he was surprised at and interested in.
Lamjav was one of those who approved the first democratic Constitution in the 1990s and he was the member of the State Baga Hural. Therefore his interview fully covers all the political, party and coalition events, the defeat at the elections after the 1990 in Mongolia, the events of his time as a member of the State Baga Hural and the period after it.
He recounted the history of how the demonstrations and the meetings of 1990 to make the Politburo resign were organized, why they had to announce the hunger strike, who was the initiator of it, how the elections of the State Ih Hural, the State Baga Hural, and the People’s Ih Hural in 1990, 192, 1996, 2000 were carried out. He also talked about what roles and duties he had in the demonstrations. He gave an extensive history of when and what kind of people formed the Social Democratic Party and how they conducted the political activities.
The parties worked in accordance with the elections system. He told about the idea of incorporating the power and becoming one party. The parties incorporated and the incorporated group formed the political ‘third power’ (so they called themselves).
Beginning from 1993 Lamjav started to address the Constitutional Court. It was the first case of a citizen to bring an issue to the Constitutional Court. He let the people know that it is possible for a citizen to bring a question to the Constitutional Court, sense the civil rights and duties of a citizen, that it is possible to bring an issue to the Constitutional Court and win the lawsuit. It was a big move for a citizen implementing the civil rights and he acquired fame as Citizen Lamjav. Initially he sued the darga of the Elections Committee and the events unreeled further, like on which side the court will resolve the issue and etc. But eventually Lamjav won the lawsuit and he talked about it in detail.
Having decided to work on auditing the Constitutional Court operations and the law, he established a non-governmental organization and the first legislative project he worked on was ‘the Law on the Non-Governmental Organization’. It was approved much later in 1997 when the Democratic Union Coalition took the power.
He qualifies the life he has been through from two sides, for he has lived in the splendid society in the period when things had been equalised, and he has also lived in the society where it was necessary to go through difficulties. It was more interesting and there was much to learn in the tough period of life. Perhaps, it is not so interesting comparatively to live in the conditions with less hardships and where things are equal, if there is such a condition, he concluded. At the end of his interview he talked about Mongolian funeral rituals and how he buried his father.
Summary of Interview 090102C with Lamjav by Khishigsüren
The third part of D. Lamjav’s interview fully covers the 1990s privatization.
The biggest basic change of shifting to this society after the democratic events in Mongolia was privatization, concluded Lamjav. The socialist public property and the state property were broken up. In 1990, for the first time in the history of Mongolia we acquired the first standing parliament and the first law approved was the law on privatization that authorized private property. Two or three various laws were issued on privatization of the industrial enterprises, the privatization of the state enterprises and the privatization of the agricultural collectives. All the citizens of Mongolia were given the equal right to possess 10.000 tögrögs of property and the privatization coupons were sorted by the color. The blue coupons of big privatization were valued at 7000 tögrögs and the pink coupons of the small privatization at 3000 tögrögs. The blue coupons were meant to privatize the enterprises. A law was approved aimed at purchasing shares. The political polemics on the issue of privatizing the collective property reached the level of a conflict. The law was issued with an explanation ‘the collective members will decide the issue of privatizing the collective property’. It was indicated that ‘they will privatize according to their will’. Due to privatizing the collective's property the question ‘who is a collective member?’ became important and it led to a dispute. So, the term ‘ collective member’ was determined according to the previous law, the law that the people adhered to. It didn’t matter how many livestock he had collectivized or what he had given. The mere fact that one didn’t labor in the collective was enough not to consider him a collective member and it was the origin of disputes about privatization. He talked about it very extensively.
In the local area, in each collective the issue of privatizing the collective property has been resolved in different ways, by personal discretion. There was a lack of knowledge of the privatization process at all stages and there were errors, and it was carried out unfairly.
The most important base acquired by democracy, the confirmation of our freedom was private property. The confirmation of the human rights given by the Constitution had to be provided by property. The mechanism that prevented the implementation of rights occurred in the privatization process as it was carried out in our country, and it was the most negative phenomenon in the democratic period. In this way he expressed his thoughts on other socially negative consequences that originated from the privatization. All information related to privatization is in this interview.
The amazing, interesting and the gratifying side of D. Lamjav’s interview is that he has talked about each subject very extensively and deeply. He is the witness of many social phenomena, and in this context he tells an accurate history, and from the other side, we can find out from his interview an individual who actively creates history.
Summary of Interview 090774A with Lamjav by Khishigsüren
The final part of Lamjav’s interview continues in his native land, Saihan sum of Bulgan aimag. Since D. Lamjav gave his interview in his native land he talked very extensively about his childhood, the place where his parents lived, the rivers and the lakes, their peculiarities, the weather condition, the jokes about the river Orhon made up by the local citizens. The names of the rivers are being changed here and there, and he also mentioned that in the olden times the herders grazed their cattle from horseback, but nowadays they graze them with speedy transportation (motorcycle, vehicle). His younger brother D. Namhai also gave his oral history interview and the first part of it he gave at the pasture land while grazing his sheep. His had problems with his legs therefore he couldn’t ride a horse and he grazed his sheep driving a vehicle.