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Thailand Prime Minister Positions Cardboard Cutout to Answer Journalists’ Questions

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha / Getty
• January 9, 2018 12:29 pm

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Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha assigned a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself to respond to journalists' questions on Monday.

After positioning the mock-up behind the microphone where Chan-ocha was expected to answer questions, the prime minister walked away, the Washington Post reported.

"If you want to ask any question on politics or conflict," Chan-ocha said, "ask this guy."

Although many journalists responded with laughter and took selfies with the cutouts that were produced for Thailand's Children's Day, a New York-based nongovernmental organization said this was part of a "long list of his [Chan-ocha's] bizarre and bullying reactions to reporters."

Human Rights Watch castigated the prime minister's actions, saying that it shows the military junta chief's "contempt of media criticism" in a country that has not restored democracy since a 2014 coup, Reuters reported.

NGOs and other groups fear that world leaders' threats against the media could lead them to impose more restrictions on journalists.

Last October, Czech President Milo Zeman waved a fake rifle at journalists during a news conference. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has often threatened journalists, including as a candidate, when he claimed that "just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you're a son of a bitch."

Russian President Vladimir Putin in July spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump about the journalists who the latter has accused of producing "fake news," the Post noted.

"These are the ones hurting you?" Putin asked Trump.

"These are the ones," Trump responded. "You're right about that."

Chan-ocha recently referred to the media as "fake news" in rhetoric reminiscent of Trump's.

Published under: Journalists, Media