Pictures of a man carrying and drinking beer at a Chiang Mai temple during a visit by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha have caused a stir online and led to questions about the PM’s security detail.
The pictures that surfaced on Saturday show an Asian man holding an open can of beer, along with two more in a clear plastic bag, just metres away from the premier’s security people at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Others show him clearly drinking from the cans on the grounds of the famed temple in Muang district.
Gen Prayut had travelled to the temple to pay his respects during what his spokespeople called an inspection tour of the northern province. The prime minister in recent weeks has made numerous inspection trips that critics say have looked more like campaigning for the coming election.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha pays his respects at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai on Friday.
Social media users asked how someone had managed to carry alcoholic drinks onto temple premises as doing so is illegal. They also asked why the prime minister’s guards seemed uninterested in the violation.
A source from the temple explained that while strict security is usually present to deal with such actions, during Gen Prayut’s visit local guards were scaled back and assigned to particular stations to make way for his personal security personnel.
The source said it was possible that a lapse in monitoring occurred due to the special circumstances of the day, but assured that stricter care would be taken. Nearby vendors will also be asked to remind buyers that they are not allowed to take alcoholic beverages onto the temple grounds.
A tourist carrying beer cans is seen standing near security personnel at a temple in Chiang Mai on Friday.