Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Wednesday that he is a funny person.
“I always am in good mood. I’m generally a good mood person. I’m also funny. Don’t you see when I made a joke, you always laughed. Most of the time when I was loud, I was just teasing you. When I was frustrated, that was not real. I just pretended to be frustrated. But you should not tease me too often,” said Gen Prayut, the Prime Minister and the head of the Thai junta. He later added that “Thank you all you guys. I just want everyone to smile.”
Prachatai has compiled some of the incidents which showed Gen Prayut’s “pretended frustration” and “funny” moments.
In late January, Gen Prayut failed to compose himself while answering reporters’ questions. He said “Ai ha” which is roughly translated as “you scumbag” and threatened reporters with detention.
“Next time, you will get it. If you ask too many questions. You didn’t ask creative questions.” said Prayut. “
In late December 2014, Prayuth was caught on camera by Thairath throwing a banana peel at a cameraman’s head in front of the media and several others during a public event.
The mocking action seemed to draw laughter from the crowd at the event, who had probably witnessed his unique mocking style before.
Threatening the media with martial law for ruining his image
In late December 2014, a day after the media reported the banana peel incident, Prayut blamed the media for ruining his image.
“I have been patient for so long already, what! ... are they crazy complaining at everyone? What good does it do? I don’t want to read [this stuff]. It makes me angry and lose my manners and leadership image. This time I will seriously shut them down. That’s what martial law is meant for. I’ll use Article 44 [of the 2014 Interim Charter] creatively. I have never put anyone in jail for this,” said Prayut.
Playing with a reporter’s ears and hair.
In late November 2014, he was also recorded on camera pulling the ears and ruffling the hair of a reporter while the reporter was reaching out with his microphone and kneeling down so that he would not be in the camera frame.
Why don't ask if I'm tired?
In late November 2014, Thai reporters asked Prayut about the constitution and election after he just arrived Bangkok from his Vietnam trip. Prayut said "What more do you want from me? I’m already tired from the meeting and didn’t sleep. Instead of asking me if I’m tired or how I am, there are only questions like when will there be an election, when will the constitution be completed? We haven’t even drafted a single article of it. Why do people have to keep asking? I’m tired."
I’m hot tempered.
In early November 2014, Prayut said “I’ve tried my best to talk with you guys [reporters] in the coolest manner because I know I’m quite hot tempered. Today I have calmed down a lot for the sake of the country.”
Smack you with the podium.
In late September 2014, he mocked a journalist during a press conference at Government House with his now iconic sentence “I’ll smack you with the podium” after he was asked whether he intended to be PM from a coup d’état only, but not from an election.
I am the Prime Minister and I must be polite.
In mid September 2014, Prayut spoke about his temper on the weekly Return Happiness program that “I must apologize that sometimes my words are too harsh. I admit I have a temper because you defame the Army on several issues. I am sorry. I am the Prime Minister and I must be polite.”
The more power you have, the more modest you must be
In early August 2014, less than two months after Prayut took power, the junta leader said “If someone says a military officer speaks inappropriately or bawls people out or bullies anyone you can report it to me, I will punish them right away. I insisted several times that the more power you have, the more modest you must be. ”
Anger as a tool to control the army.
In August 2012, before Prayut staged the coup, the then-Army Chief said ““It’s normal for me to get angry; otherwise I wouldn't be able to rule over the army.”
Sa-nguan Khumrungroj, a senior reporter, told the BBC Thai Service last week that if leaders in the past had shown such behaviour and character, the Thai media would boycotted them.
“[The media] wouldn’t cover [the leaders] even though their spokesmen invited them because the media at that time had high dignity.”
Sa-nguan added that he has never seen a leader who did not know how to behave. “In the past, there were some in the ASEAN, such as Lee Kuan Yew, the former Singaporean leader, and Ferdinand Marcos, the former Philippines leader, who were regularly angry at reporters, but they were not as bad as [Prayut].”