PM must temper anger

PM must temper anger

When a person is highly agitated or angry, they might quickly lose their temper and probably resort to an inappropriate action.

But Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is not just any person -- he is the leader of the country, a top public figure whose every action is closely watched. With such an important role, he is obliged to act in a civil manner. No matter how mad he might become, he must manage his anger and follow some social rules.

Unfortunately, Gen Prayut -- who is well known for unpredictable behaviour -- forgot to behave when he answered media questions after a press conference Tuesday.

Apparently, he became extremely annoyed with journalists who for several days had been pestering him over the issue of a cabinet reshuffle.

But instead of his usual tirade, this time he went too far by spraying disinfectant at reporters and cameramen. This latest stunt -- in order to dodge a question -- was not only rude but dangerous.

A clip of him spraying the substance on newshounds while covering his own nose and mouth with a mask triggered an avalanche of criticism. Foreign news agencies covered the brazen behaviour, and the coverage was picked up by foreign media outlets. One reporter was heard complaining loudly about the irritation to his eyes as the PM walked away.

If he thinks this is funny and harmless, he is wrong.

In fact, a few doctors issued a warning that the substance can be harmful, especially if it gets into people's eyes.

Yesterday afternoon, Matichon online reported that #Prayut Resign numbers had climbed on Twitter.

It's not the first time that the former army chief turned-politician has committed such faux pas -- mostly verbal blasts, when handling media inquiries.

But the latest drama which crossed the line raises a question about his leadership and maturity.

The Associated Press recalled an incident where he was speaking to a media scrum while fondling the ear of one of the reporters. They also mentioned him flinging a banana skin at cameramen.

In 2018, there was an event when he declined to speak to the media, and instead set up a life-size cutout of himself. "Ask this guy," he said and walked away.

At times he has sworn, causing a stir.

Gen Prayut has a love-hate relationship with the media. His acts demonstrate an unfriendly -- at times hostile -- attitude toward newshounds and more often than not he takes things personally. Over the years, he has tried to soften his image, only to repeat his mistakes. There were times when he offered an olive branch and apologised.

With a military background, Gen Prayut must be used to harshness or tough punishment. But he must be aware that he's no longer in the military where bold actions, especially when in a position of command, will be accepted.

As a prime minister, he is supposed to be a role model, and treat others with respect.

Like it or not, the prime minister has to learn to handle media questions which may not be music to his ears. It doesn't hurt to politely decline a question or turn the microphone off. But it hurts his image badly if he acts in a childish manner.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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