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Thailand’s tragedy of unrest – Sin Chew Daily

Thailand’s Constitutional Court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and dismissed nine ministers after finding them guilty of abusing power, nearly collapsing the caretaker government. It was later announced that Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan will replace Yingluck. However, Yingluck's leaving after two years and nine months in the office has not only failed to alleviate the increasingly intense political crisis, but instead led to a repetition of confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties, causing Thailand to face a new round of political turmoil.

The opposition camp led by Suthep Thaugsuban has been confronting with Yingluck's caretaker government by various means since November last year, but was unable to shake Yingluck's prime minister status. Eventually, they pulled her down through legal channels, after the court unanimously ruled that Yingluck had abused her position by transferring a security chief to another post in 2011, so that a relative could benefit from subsequent job moves. It brought a serious blow to the ruling party, while hitting the morale of the pro-government "Red Shirts". Yingluck is also facing another charge for neglect of duty in connection with a costly rice subsidy scheme. An unfavourable ruling could send the first female prime minister of Thailand into jail.

The Thai Constitutional Court is supposed to be an independent judiciary but it has been a known fact that some judges and government officials handling the case are having feud with Yingluck and her party. Prejudices and political stands have often affected judicial judgement. Yingluck lost her prime minister position just because of a mistake in job moves have much or less shown that the courts are tend to support the Opposition. No wonder some independent scholars interpreted the ruling as a "well-planned judicial coup". Thai judicial intervention in politics has not only undermined the spirit of democracy and institutions, but also soiled the seed of contradiction, conflict and instability in the country and society, while setting a bad example to other Asean member states.

The court's ruling is expected to bring a profound impact on Thailand's political balance. The street duel between the "Red Shirts" and "Yellow Shirts" might evolve into more intense conflict and it could even lead to the possibility of military intervention and coups. The red-yellow confrontation has been playing a major role in Thailand's political wrangling and representing the political stands of different social classes in Thailand. The red-yellow conflict has therefore reflected the split of Thai society. The "Red Shirts" are expected to take retaliatory action following the leaving of Yingluck. We could see that more demonstrations and protests would be staged in the following days, dragging the country into a bottomless black hole. It is also in doubt whether the election scheduled on July 20 can be held.

Thailand used to be a leading country in Southeast Asia in terms of economy and democratic politics. The long-term political instability has however hindered the construction of infrastructure such as roads and railways, while severely hitting the confidence of foreign investors and the tourism industry, causing the expected political growth rate to plunge from 5% to 2.5%. The endless political dispute has sabotaged national economy, affected people's livelihood and provoked public discontent, leading the initially democratic and prosperous Thailand into an abyss. It is indeed a tragedy for Thailand. –, May 10, 2014.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.


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