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2014年1月17日 (金)

タイ反政府デモ 選挙実現へ混乱収拾が急務だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 16, 2014
Urgent steps must be taken to unsnarl chaos disrupting Thailand election
タイ反政府デモ 選挙実現へ混乱収拾が急務だ(1月16日付・読売社説)

Disorder in Thailand has become protracted as the factional conflict intensifies. It is desirable to explore a way to unsnarl the chaos so the general election can be held.

Protests against the government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra—a sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra—have been occurring frequently over the past two months in Bangkok, with demonstrators calling for Yingluck’s resignation.

Since Monday, antigovernment protesters have occupied the key intersections of Bangkok and roads in front of government offices, partially paralyzing the functions of the capital city. The Yingluck administration has refrained from removing them by force, apparently for fear of a clash between the police and the protesters.

The latest wave of protests was triggered as the ruling Pheu Thai Party, in support of Thaksin, made a failed bid to push an amnesty bill through parliament that would have allowed Thaksin, who is in self-imposed exile to avoid jail time for a corruption conviction, to return to Thailand.

This high-handed approach of the ruling party has brought about angry responses from anti-Thaksin forces, including the main opposition Democrat Party.

In a bid to calm the political crisis, Yingluck dissolved the lower house and called for a general election slated for Feb. 2. Then the anti-Thaksin forces vowed to boycott the vote, while calling for Yingluck to step down and for a transition to an interim government comprised of nonelected representatives from various sectors to oversee political and electoral reforms before any new polls.

Undermining democracy

The pro-Thaksin party has paid particular attention to the poor, who make up a large part of the population, and enjoys overwhelming support among the poor and in rural areas. In recent general elections, the party has continuously been the victor. The anti-Thaksin forces have apparently concluded that there is no way for them to win in an election.

Boycotting the vote and disturbing public order to make others accept their claim, primarily on the pretext of the opposition having little chance of winning an election, is just a self-serving stance in total disregard of democratic procedures. The right thing to do is for them to approve the holding of the election.

Yet it now appears to be difficult to hold the election as planned.

Due to the obstruction by anti-Thaksin forces, there are many electoral districts that are devoid of candidates. Even if the election was forcibly carried out, there wouldn’t be enough members to fulfill the constitutional provisions for convening the lower house.

Accordingly, the Election Committee has called for Yingluck to delay the election schedule.

There are some within the anti-Thaksin forces who want military intervention. Even if the government was toppled with such means, it would only invite retaliation from pro-Thaksin forces.

The current turmoil is set to affect the economy.

Some Japanese companies have taken measures such as shutting down the buildings of their local affiliates. It has also been reported that the government’s procedures for approving large-scale investment projects have been suspended.

Thailand, which has achieved its economic growth through foreign capital investments from countries such as Japan, has been called “an honor student among the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.” Such global confidence accredited to the country has begun to be undermined.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 16, 2014)
(2014年1月16日01時33分  読売新聞)


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