The long arms of the law
Across Asia, judges are having too much say in politics
AFTER nearly three years, Yingluck Shinawatra's stint as prime minister of Thailand drew this week to its inevitable close. The end came not with the bang of a people-power revolution that at one point seemed likely to unseat her; nor with the muted rumble of tanks in a coup like the one that toppled her brother Thaksin from the same job in 2006; still less with the raucous clamour of a contested election, though one had been called for July 20th. Rather, it petered out in the whimper of a court order. Not for the first time the Thai judiciary has intervened to solve a problem that a broken political system could not fix. And not for the first time its intervention was to the Shinawatras' detriment.
坚持了约三年之后，英拉·西那瓦的总理岁月也将在本周不可避免地走向终结 。然而最终让她认输的，既非一度动摇她职位的人民力量革命的爆发，也非在2006年曾迫使英拉的哥哥他信去职的坦克的低吼与政变 。一场具有争议的选举也在民众喧嚷的要求下被推迟到了6月20日，不过英拉的去职与之也关系不大 。最终这个故事在法庭判令与阵阵呜咽中渐渐落幕 。对于泰国司法来说，这不是第一次介入解决那些由破碎的政治体制无法解决的问题 。而西那瓦家族吃司法介入的亏，也同样不是第一次了 。
However, Thailand is not alone in fighting political battles with legal weapons. A number of Malaysian opposition politicians find themselves in legal trouble, with potentially serious consequences. In Myanmar the opposition is planning demonstrations this month to demand reform to a constitution that places legal obstacles in the way of the country's democratisation, and of the right of Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader, to stand in a presidential election she would surely win. Even in China a purge of potential opponents of Xi Jinping, the president and party leader, takes the form of a series of prosecutions for corruption. More hopefully, in Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, a former army chief and military dictator, is fighting a charge of treason, in a trial testing the army's willingness to cede privileges and immunity to an elected civilian government.
不过，利用法律武器进行政治斗争，可不仅仅是泰国一家 。马来西亚的一些反对派政治家如今正深陷法律麻烦，可能会遭遇严重的后果 。缅甸的反对派正在计划在本月展开一场示威游行，要求对一项妨碍国家民主化的宪法进行改革，并为反对派领袖昂山素季争取参加总统大选的权利 。只要能参加选举，她就一定能获胜 。即便是中国国家主席和党总书记习的清除潜在敌手行动中，也采取了对腐败提起公诉的形式 。巴基斯坦则看来更有希望，前陆军参谋长，军事独裁者佩尔韦兹·穆沙拉夫正在与叛国罪的指控相斗争，这是一次对军方限制特权、不干预民选文职政府之意愿的检验 。
Various trends are at work. One, evident in India and Pakistan, is an enduring tradition of activism by a robustly independent judiciary. Often this has made the courts popular by comparison with the perceived lethargy, incompetence or malice of politicians. Public-interest litigation and its ability to make rulings suo moto (off its own bat) have encouraged India's Supreme Court to meddle in environmental and social policy. It has forced Delhi's buses, taxis and tuk-tuks to convert to compressed natural gas from dirtier fuels and has taken charge of India's trees. The court's green interests might please liberals, but they rued a ruling last December that overturned a Delhi High Court decision lifting a ban on homosexuality. In Pakistan the courts helped bring down Mr Musharraf, but then proceeded to hound his civilian successor, Asif Ali Zardari, through his five-year term.
这其中包含了很多不同的趋势 。在印度与巴基斯坦，坚定又独立的司法部门有悠久的激进做派传统 。相对于公众心目中陈腐，无能，又阴险的政治家，法院的这一形象更受民众欢迎 。公益起诉的资格与独立作出裁决的能力使得印度最高法院乐于干预环境与社会政策 。它已经让德里的巴士、的士、嘟嘟车都抛弃了落后的燃料，换上液化天然气，并且接管了全印度的树木 。法院的绿色诉求或许能取悦自由派，不过他们也为去年十二月印度最高法院推翻了德里高级法院给同性恋禁令松绑的裁决而感到惋惜 。巴基斯坦的法院正对打倒穆沙拉夫有功，不过随后的五年总统任期中，他们又盯上了穆沙拉夫那位文职的总统继任者，阿西夫·阿里·扎尔达里 。
Elsewhere, however, governments use the law as an instrument of political control. That is most obvious in one-party dictatorships such as China and Vietnam. But the suspicion of judicial persecution lingers even in countries whose governments present themselves as relatively liberal—such as Malaysia's, which has lifted some repressive colonial-era legislation. Yet, after a close general election last year, a number of opposition politicians face charges for sedition or for breaches of the law on assembly. The most serious case has nothing to do with politics. It is the five-year sentence on a charge of sodomy against which Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the opposition, is appealing.
不过在其他地方，政府把法律当做了实施政治控制的工具 。这在中国越南之类的一党专政国家尤为明显 。不过，即使那些政府自我标榜为相对自由的国家，也无法摆脱司法迫害的嫌疑——譬如马拉西亚政府就推行了一些殖民地时代的镇压性法律 。去年那场势均力敌的大选结束后，就有一些反对派政治家收到了煽动与妨碍法律制定的指控 。其中最严重的案例甚至与政治都没有关系 。反对党领导人安华·易卜拉欣被控鸡奸罪并最终被判刑五年，他表示将上诉 。
When Barack Obama visited Malaysia last month, Najib Razak, the prime minister, stressed that the Anwar case was a judicial matter in which the government had no part. Yet it was the government's own appeal which led to Mr Anwar's earlier acquittal being overturned. He is the figurehead who unites a diverse opposition torn at present by disagreement over the plan of one of its components, an Islamic party, to introduce fierce hudud punishments, such as amputations, in Kelantan, a state it governs. His disappearance into jail would be most damaging.
上个月巴拉克·奥巴马访问马来西亚时，现任总理纳吉·阿都拉萨强调了安华案只是一起司法事件，政府没有参与其中 。但正是政府的压力使得早先对安华的无罪裁决被推翻 。安华是将反对派团结在一起的精神领袖，如今反对派内部四分五裂，原因是其中一家伊斯兰政党计划在其治下的吉兰丹州引入可怕的固定刑惩罚，而各反对派政党对此意见不一 。安华入狱将重创反对派联盟 。
Thailand is illustrative of a third trend: for conservative judiciaries, when a time-honoured political dispensation changes, to find themselves, in effect, part of the opposition. Like much of the civil service, army and other pillars of Thailand's royalist establishment, the judiciary abhors the Shinawatras' alleged corruption with a special intensity in part because it fears their popularity, and hence their ability to overturn the accustomed order. In the Maldives, too, the courts helped get rid of a popular leader in 2012. Mohamed Nasheed was the first directly elected president after a long dictatorship. He threatened to shake things up, but lost a power struggle with a judge.
泰国则代表了第三种趋势：保守的司法体制长久以来拥有超然的政治地位，但如今格局已渐渐改变，事实上司法部门已经成为了反对派的一部分 。与公务员，军队，以及其他泰国保皇派主要群体一样，司法部门非常痛恨西那瓦家族的腐败 。而且其中也有畏惧的成分 。西那瓦家族拥有广泛的民众支持，进而有能力颠覆现有格局 。同样在马尔代夫，法院也在2012年为除去一位广受欢迎的领导人出了一把力 。穆罕默德·纳希德是这个国家历经长期独裁后的第一位直选总统 。 他曾出言要改天换地，但在与司法的权斗中败下阵来 。
The Singapore sting
The lesson drawn from all this by authoritarian ruling elites facing pressure for reform is how important it is to have the courts on your side. Not only does it avoid awkward stand-offs; it helps foster the impression that you are moving towards “the rule of law”. So, in Sri Lanka, the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa early last year impeached and sacked a troublesome chief justice. And in Cambodia laws now being considered would have the effect of emasculating judicial independence.
面临改革压力的独裁统治都学到了一课：把司法拉拢到自己一边非常重要 。这不单能避开麻烦的制衡状态，更能营造一种正在走向的印象 。所以在斯里兰卡，马欣达·拉贾帕克萨的政府就弹劾并解职了一位麻烦的首席大法官 。而柬埔寨的现行法律也被认为具有削弱司法独立性的作用 。
Cambodia's strongman, Hun Sen, is known to cast an envious eye at an unlikely role model: Singapore. There, the ruling People's Action Party has been in power even longer than his own Cambodian People's Party (CPP). And it has managed this without resorting to the thuggery and coups that have ensured the CPP's grip. Part of the PAP's secret is its use of the law. Strict defamation and contempt-of-court laws inherited from the British were invoked against foreign critics and domestic opponents, forcing some into bankruptcy. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding prime minister, whose son now holds that job, justified this as necessary to protect Singapore's leaders' reputations, rather than as a way of hounding the opposition. But it had the same effect.
众所周知，柬埔寨政治强人洪森非常羡慕一位可能不是榜样的榜样：新加坡 。新加坡的执政党人民行动党比洪森的柬埔寨人民党掌权时间更久 。而且人民行动党并不依靠人民党那套为抓紧政权所施展的阴谋与政变 。法律就是人民党的一种秘密武器 。严苛的诽谤与藐视法庭法源自英国，被用来打击外国批评家与国内反对派，其中有些人因此破产 。首任总理李光耀认为这能保护新加坡领导人的名誉，而不是用来追击反对派 。其实效果都一样 。
However, those in Cambodia and elsewhere make two mistakes when they see Singapore as a model of efficient authoritarianism applied in large measure through the legal system. One is that Singapore is an international city seen as under the rule of law. Its courts are respected, if not always the use the government has made of them. The other is that many Singaporeans are turning against the PAP, which is even trying to change its image.
柬埔寨等国视新加坡为依靠司法实施高效威权主义的榜样，不过他们犯了两个错 。首先新加坡是一个法治的国际化城市 。要是政府不总是私自动用司法力量，那司法是很受尊敬的 。其次很多新加坡人正转而反对人民行动党，甚至人民行动党自己也在寻求改变形象 。
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