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2015-09-07 15:01:21







  Everything is broken


  Long in crisis, Thailand is close to the brink. Withoutcompromises on both sides, it may well collapse


  LOOK on and despair. A decade ago Thailand was a shining example—rare proof that inSouth-East Asia a vibrant democracy could go hand-in-hand with a thriving economy.Contrast that with Thailand on May 7th, left in disarray after the Constitutional Courtdemanded that the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra (pictured), step down with ninemembers of her cabinet over her decision to remove the country's head of national securityin 2011, in favour of a relative.


  For all the pretence of due legal process and distaste at Ms Yingluck's nepotism, this was notan offence that merited the ousting of a prime minister. Instead, the ruling is a measure ofquite how far Thailand has fallen, how deeply it is divided and how badly its institutions arebroken. Unless Thais step back from the brink, their country risks falling into chaos andanarchy, or outright violence.


  In kicking out Ms Yingluck, the court accomplished what months of anti-government streetprotests in Bangkok, led by a firebrand populist, Suthep Thaugsuban, had failed to bring about.It is far from the first time the court has ruled against her. To break the impasse on Bangkok'sstreets, she had called a February election, but the opposition Democrat Party boycotted it,and the court struck down the results. Ms Yingluck had been limping on as a caretaker. Themessage for many Thais is that the court is on the side of a royalist establishment bent onpurging politics of Ms Yingluck, who came to office three years ago in a landslide election, and—especially—her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, himself ousted in a coup in 2006 and now inself-imposed exile.


  The entire apparatus of government has been sucked into the conflict between two visions ofThailand. For Mr Thaksin's supporters, his emergence in 2001 marked a welcome break fromdecades of rule by corrupt coalitions or military juntas. Helped by a new democraticconstitution in 1997, he gave a voice to Thailand's majority, many of them in his northern andnorth-eastern heartland. In their view, he transformed the lives of the poorest with health andeducation programmes, and he challenged Thailand's privileged elites in the bureaucracy, thearmy, the judiciary and the palace corridors of an ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej. To theThaksinites, both the recent street protests and the Constitutional Court's activism are thework of an establishment that cannot accept the results of the ballot box: in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011 parties loyal to Mr Thaksin won elections fair and square, and MsYingluck's Pheu Thai party would have done so, too, in February.


  There is merit in this interpretation. But so is there in what the Shinawatras' enemies have tosay. In particular, they charge that Thaksinite governments have been run for the benefit ofhis rural supporters (a mad scheme to subsidise rice threatens to bust the budget) and ofthe billionaire himself. There is something creepy about the way that the exiled, unelected MrThaksin has been calling the shots from Dubai.


  Now stalemate beckons. An election is supposed to happen. Ms Yingluck should have had theright to confront her undemocratic royalist foes at the ballot box. But an election is nosolution because the opposition will boycott it. Mr Suthep has proposed a “people's council”of the great and the good, but Thaksinites will rightly see it as a stitch-up designed to keepthem out. The irreconcilable differences between the two sides have swallowed up Thailand'scourts, its army and even the monarchy—and left Thailand at the abyss. Investors, havingborne years of simmering discontent, are taking fright. Blood has already been spilled thisyear. The prospects of wider violence are growing as Thaksinite supporters threaten conflicton the streets.


  Stop and think


  If Thailand is to avoid that catastrophe, both sides must now step back from the brink. Thestarting point is the devolution of Thailand's highly centralised system of governance. At themoment only the capital has a democratically elected governor, yet all 76 provinces shouldalso have one—this would not only help a rumbling Muslim insurgency in the south, it would alsooffer a prize to Mr Suthep, because the winner of the national election would no longer win allthe power. In return for this reform, the Democrat Party must pledge to accept electionresults; and in return for that, the Pheu Thai should run without a Shinawatra at the helm.

  如果泰国想要避免灾祸,对峙双方必须在局势崩溃之前各退一步。首先要做的就是要将泰国高度集中的管理权力下放。目前只有该国首都拥有一个民主选举的管理者,而其他的76个省 份也应该有这样的管理者——这不仅可以协助解决日渐激烈的南方穆斯林暴乱,还将会为素贴带来额外之喜,因为小全国大选的获胜者将不再是大权独握。作为这场改革的回报, 民主党必须保证接受选举结果;而为了回报这个结果,泰党应该在没有西那瓦家族成员掌权的情况下运行。

  Goodwill is in short supply in Thailand today. Yet by fighting on, the two sides risk bringingruination to their country. Compromise would, by comparison, be a small price to pay.


  1.in favour of 赞成;支持

  例句:The newspaper is now weighted in favour oftrivia.


  2.fail to 未能;不能

  例句:Many of Britain's beaches fail to meet minimumstandards of cleanliness.


  3.come to 苏醒;达到;来到

  例句:I do hope you'll be able to come to the wedding.


  4.loyal to 忠于;忠诚于

  例句:They were unflinchingly loyal to their friends.







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