Thailand's prime minister douses journalists with hand sanitiser

Say it, don’t spray it! Thailand’s prime minister douses journalists with hand sanitizer when they quiz him over cabinet reshuffle

  • Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha sprayed hand sanitiser at reporters Tuesday
  • He became frustrated when asked about a list of potential cabinet candidates
  • He left the podium and was filmed walking in front of reporters, spraying them 
  • Last week three of his ministers were jailed for insurrection during 2014 protests
  • Prayuth, a former military coup leader and army commander that overthrew the elected government in 2014, often lashes out at reporters 

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha left reporters stunned and amused on Tuesday when he interrupted his own news conference to spray them with hand sanitiser in a bid to dodge tough questions.

Prayuth became frustrated when asked about a list of potential candidates for vacant cabinet posts, following last week’s jailing of three of his ministers for insurrection during protests seven years ago.

‘Is there anything else to ask?,’ he said, standing at a podium. ‘I don’t know, I haven’t seen it. Isn’t it something the prime minister should know first?’

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Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was filmed spraying reporters with hand sanitiser on Tuesday in an attempt to avoid questions about the cabinet reshuffle during a press conference in Bangkok

In the live briefing, Prayuth then left the podium, grabbed a small bottle of sanitiser, casually walked over to the journalists and sprayed each of them while holding a surgical mask in front of his face.

Reporters are seen trying to cover their faces from the spray as he walks along the front of the assembled press. 

The incident happened during a new conference that followed a weekly cabinet meeting at the Government House in the Thai capital of Bangkok.

He was later filmed speaking with the same group of journalists and looking increasingly vexed, talking inaudibly while spraying them with broad sweeps of his hand before walking off again. 

Prayuth, a former military coup leader and army commander that overthrew the elected government in 2014, is known for his casual, at times comical, remarks to media but he often lashes out at reporters. 

He has previously spoken to the media while fondling a reporter’s ear, and flung a banana peel at camera operators.

Prayuth became frustrated when asked about a list of potential candidates for vacant cabinet posts, following last week’s jailing of three of his ministers for insurrection during protests seven years ago

In the live briefing, Prayuth left the podium, grabbed a small bottle of sanitiser, casually walked over to the journalists and sprayed each of them while holding a surgical mask to his face 

After an event in 2018, he decline to speak to the media, instead setting up a life-size cutout of himself, telling reporters to ‘speak to this guy’ before walking away.     

On Monday, a Thai university warned foreign students to steer clear of political rallies or face revocation of their visas and immigration blacklisting amid anti-government protests and local demonstrations against a coup in Myanmar.

The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in an email memo to students said it respected freedom of expression but was conveying a request from Thai immigration for foreign students not to join protests.

‘All of us must be respectful of the laws and policies of the host country Thailand,’ it said in an email seen by Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

‘We strongly urge members of the AIT community to take heed of the message issued by the government of Thailand.’

Thailand has seen demonstrations in recent weeks denouncing last month’s military coup in Myanmar and a deadly crackdown by security forces on protesters. Myanmar has a large community in Thailand.

Thailand has seen demonstrations in recent weeks denouncing last month’s military coup in Myanmar and a deadly crackdown by security forces on protesters. Myanmar has a large community in Thailand

Rallies have taken place outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok and the regional headquarters of the United Nations, urging the body to take action.

The memo did not specifically mention demonstrations about Myanmar, but said the request covers protests in ‘Bangkok, United Nations, embassies’.

Thailand has also seen a resumption recently of youth-led protests against its government.

Thailand has called for restraint and dialogue in Myanmar, but has stopped short of criticising the military for seizing power.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said no order had been issued by the immigration bureau, as did foreign ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat, who said the issue could be a ‘miscommunication’.

Police Colonel Charoenpong Khantilo, chief of the immigration office in Pathum Thani, where the university is located, said no threat had been made to revoke visas and blacklist foreign students.

‘We are concerned about their safety and worried that they will get involved in wrongdoing from participating in protests,’ Charoenpong told Reuters, adding that a emergency decree was in force that prohibits mass gatherings. 

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