Global Times | Global Times
Published on July 05, 2011 02:33

Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, has become Thailand's first female prime minister.

In the five years since Thaksin was deposed, the red shirts and yellow shirts have been wrestling for control, splitting Thai society and dragging the country's economy down.

The only gain seems to be the victory of democracy, but this is a limited test of democracy since it challenges neither the king nor the military.

Most countries in the world have been making progress in pursuing democracy. But we must weigh the price, especially the effectiveness in bringing a better life to people.

Most Southeast Asian countries are "sub-democratic" entities where democracy and authoritarian rule mix with each other. This kind of political system appears to be socially costly, and is not real democracy.

The Asian countries that best learnt from Western democracy are Japan and South Korea.

Japan's success has come with a huge sacrifice, namely military occupation by the US. The situation is slightly different with South Korea. But politically, the country is also apparently largely dependent on the US.

The special historical roles of Japan and South Korea are hard to copy for Southeast Asian countries.

The establishment of a democratic system needs financial support.

The introduction of democracy to Japan and South Korea was financially supported by the US. Poorer countries will face more severe conflicts and fighting among various social interests groups. It is hard to harness such kind of fighting, and so far more countries are losing than winning.

Chinese society agrees that the country needs to develop democracy. But we must make sure what democracy is comprised of, and how we can realize it at the least cost.

Some define Western democracy as elections. But if elections are the only element of democracy, what is affecting many countries in the world will make people flinch.

Ballots have apparently not brought real power to the people in many countries, because their choices did not prevent their countries from plunging into turmoil.

What people want most is an increasingly better life and a peaceful and progressive society, in which everyone's rights are protected but where they cannot hurt public interests.

Elections do not necessarily guarantee all these. If elections can realize these goals, it is real democracy. If elections destroy these goals, it is false democracy.

Western democratic models can be an important reference. Emerging countries' experiments can be a lesson.

But China has to explore the path to democracy according to its own situation, not repeat the same errors that some other countries have experienced.

Posted in: Editorial