Thailand’s Prime Minister left reporters stunned on Tuesday when he interrupted his own news conference to spray them with hand sanitizer 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?”
In the live briefing, Prayuth then left the podium, grabbed a small bottle of hand sanitizer, casually walked over to the journalists and sprayed each of them while holding a surgical mask in front of his face.
Prayuth, a former military coup leader, is known for his casual, at times comical, remarks to media but he often lashes out at reporters.
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.
Prime Minister denies ‘Big Joke’ being reinstated
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also denied that Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, who was removed as Immigration Bureau commissioner in 2019, is being reinstated to an active post at the Royal Thai Police (RTP).
Instead, a source said his transfer back to the RTP might be to an inactive position.
Gen Prayut dismissed media reports that he signed a reinstatement order for the senior officer who goes by the nickname “Big Joke”.
Pol Lt Gen Surachate headed the bureau until 2019, when he was suddenly shunted out of law enforcement to a civilian post of adviser at the Prime Minister’s Office. The reason for his sudden fall from grace was never explained and remains a mystery.
Pol Lt Gen Surachate filed a lawsuit against Gen Prayut last year claiming he had been transferred illegally.