« 記者の目:豪州の子供ホスピスを視察して=鈴木梢(夕刊編集部) | トップページ | 年末自己投資系プログラム特集 »

2008年12月 4日 (木)


2008/12/4 --The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 3(IHT/Asahi: December 4,2008)

EDITORIAL: Political crisis in Thailand


In the latest development in politically embattled Thailand, the Constitutional Court on Tuesday disbanded the People Power Party and its two ruling coalition partners for election fraud in the general elections of December last year.

The court also banned Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and executives of the three outlawed parties from politics for five years, effectively ending the Somchai administration.



National Assembly members of the disbanded parties are now trying to cobble together a ruling coalition around a new party created just for that purpose. But opposition parties and anti-government forces are highly unlikely to welcome this "new" administration, which is essentially a continuation of the old.


Thailand is at a critical political crossroads.


A core nation in Southeast Asia, Thailand has been regarded as a viable democracy with a growing economy. It is an important diplomatic partner of Japan, and the Thai crisis is a matter of deep concern for us.


The Constitutional Court's ruling Tuesday was rendered against a backdrop of popular disaffection with the government dating back to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's era. Thaksin's support base consisted of the rural poor, and he was criticized for pork-barreling by the nation's urban constituents.


After fleeing overseas, Thaksin was found guilty of corruption. Somchai, who is Thaksin's brother-in-law, became prime minister in mid-September--a mere 12 weeks ago--to succeed Samak Sundaravej upon his disqualification by the Constitutional Court.


The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), backed by Thailand's traditional elite and business leaders, has remained vocally critical of the government since the Samak era. More recently, the group was responsible for the siege of the Government House compound and Bangkok's two airports.


The airport blockades stranded thousands of tourists, including Japanese, and dealt a heavy blow to the nation's tourism industry. Some Japanese businesses operating in Thailand may reconsider their local production and marketing plans.


Dissidents have their rightful place in any democratic society. But resorting to something as utterly foolhardy as blockading airports can never be condoned. We must also question the PAD's undemocratic demands, one of which is that there be more nonelected appointees to the National Assembly.


There is great interest in whether King Bhumibol Adulyadej will intervene. The much beloved and respected monarch successfully arbitrated the September military coup in 2006. But he is 80 years old, and the nation obviously cannot keep turning to him in times of crisis.


The PAD's decision to lift the airport siege is a step in the right direction. We hope both the government and the dissident forces will take this as a cue to end the vicious cycle of anti-government activities and the replacement of prime ministers.

They should sit down for reasoned talks to resolve this crisis.


Before the collapse of the Somchai administration, Thailand decided to postpone until next spring the planned Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, slated for mid-December, as well as an East Asian summit in which Japan was expected to participate.


Any further loss of Thailand's credibility in the international community will hurt the whole of Asia. The Japanese government must think seriously about what it can do.



« 記者の目:豪州の子供ホスピスを視察して=鈴木梢(夕刊編集部) | トップページ | 年末自己投資系プログラム特集 »





« 記者の目:豪州の子供ホスピスを視察して=鈴木梢(夕刊編集部) | トップページ | 年末自己投資系プログラム特集 »