It is a trial time for democracies in Asia

These are times of trial — literally in the courts — for a growing number of Asia's democracies. The list of major national political leaders in the region who have faced, or are about to face, criminal charges has grown so extensive that it is plausible to wonder whether democracy itself can survive in a number of these countries.

Perhaps the gravest allegations have been levelled at Bangladesh's opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who has been charged with murder in a case going back many years. India's former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who lost power less than a year ago, is being questioned by prosecutors in connection with allegations of corruption in the privatisation of coalmines under his government.

Following a military coup that overthrew her democratically elected government, Thailand's former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is facing charges of official malfeasance over rice subsidies.

Then there is the long-running saga of Malaysia's opposition...

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