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2016年8月18日 (木)

タイ新憲法 国民和解につなげられるのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Can Thailand’s new constitution lead to national reconciliation?
タイ新憲法 国民和解につなげられるのか

One would have to conclude that Thailand has opted for prolonging the life of the junta. Is it possible to pave the way for national reconciliation, which is Thailand’s biggest challenge?

To obtain the trust of the international community, the junta must put all its efforts into realizing a full transition to civilian rule.

A draft of a new constitution compiled under the military rule was endorsed by a majority of votes in a referendum. As the constitution was designed to ensure the military’s political influence, the content of the new basic law is far from democratic.

Under the new constitution, the prime minister is not required to be a lower house member, making it possible for military personnel to assume the post. As a provisional measure in the initial five years, the junta can appoint anyone it wants to the upper house. The referendum also approved granting the upper house the right to nominate a prime minister.

An electoral system that makes it difficult for any single party to win a majority will be introduced in the lower house. Behind this move is the junta’s aim to block the reinstatement of the political force led by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which is strong in elections with its support base of farmers in rural areas and low-income earners in urban areas. A general election will be held by the end of next year.

There has been a fierce confrontation in Thailand for more than 10 years between the Thaksin forces and anti-Thaksin forces. The anti-Thaksin forces mainly comprise groups with vested interests, including military personnel and bureaucrats.

Behind the approval of the new constitution is the public’s hopes for a stable society even under the military rule amid expectations that the new constitution will be a step forward toward a return to civilian rule.

No legitimacy

However, for whatever reason, it is clear that the junta, which ignored democratic procedures and took power in a coup, has no legitimacy.

It is worrisome that the junta is clamping down on free speech and stifling opposing opinions with an iron fist.

The junta has repeatedly temporarily detained students opposing the new constitution, and politicians and reporters who have criticized the junta. It also totally prohibited systematic campaigns seeking discussions of the pros and cons of the new constitution.

National reconciliation cannot be realized with such a governing method. After the referendum, there was a series of explosions in the central part of the country, where Thai royal family palaces are located, and in resorts in the south. The junta suspects that opponents of the new constitution were involved in the incidents.

It is feared that continued uncertainty in the political situation will affect the economy, curbing foreign investment and profits from tourism. Thailand is an important production base for Japanese companies, such as automobile manufacturers.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is shaken by the issue of the South China Sea. The stability of Thailand — one of the association’s main member countries — is also important for ASEAN unity.

In response to the referendum, interim Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha issued a statement that said he would employ every possible means to eliminate public concern. It is indispensable for him to sincerely make efforts to overcome the nation’s divided society as mentioned in the statement.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 17, 2016)


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« Olympics: Japan rebounds to take bronze in women's team table tennis | トップページ | 香山リカのココロの万華鏡 子どもがいなくても »