Coup has lessons here, says Abhisit

The Egyptian coup should serve as a good lesson that military intervention is unlikely unless a government abuses its power, according to opposition and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

He yesterday warned the government not to violate the rule of law, challenge the power of the judiciary, exercise power for vested interests or try to right wrongdoings.

He also said the functionality of national administrations also depends on the freedom of independent organisations, the mass media and the opposition to scrutinise the work of governments. If they have this, tension will not occur on streets and coups would be unlikely, he said.

Mr Abhisit also noted that a truly democratic government must be aware of the limits on its power and must not abuse the power it receives from people to violate the judiciary. Otherwise, confrontation will occur, he said.

Chulalongkorn University political science lecturer Chaiwat Khamchoo said Thailand is unlikely to follow in Egypt's footsteps and see military intervention put an end to political conflicts. The military had learned it cannot maintain its power after staging a coup, said Mr Chaiwat, referring to the top brass who toppled the government of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.

Unlike the government of former president Mohamed Morsi, which failed to impress its people after only one year in office, the Yingluck Shinawatra government was pleasing its supporters with populist policies.

Mr Chaiwat said the situation in Egypt remains uncertain and will depend on how long it takes the caretaker government to hold another election, its plans heading for the next election, its ability to maintain peace, and the strength of Mr Morsi's supporters. He said it was too early to tell whether Mr Morsi's supporters would make any moves against the caretaker government or not.

Saravut Aree, a Middle East expert at the Muslim Studies Centre at Chulalongkorn University, said the former Egyptian president was ousted because he had tried to limit the power of the armed forces and the judiciary, two of Egypt's most influential institutions.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the coup in Egypt had not affected Thais there and the Thai embassy in Egypt was ready to provide assistance if it was necessary.

There are about 2,000 Thais in Egypt _ about 1,800 students and 200 workers.

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Writer: Nattaya Chetchotiros, Manop Thip-Osod & Amornrat Mahitthirook