Thailand: Rights group criticizes Thai PM’s cardboard cutout gesture

  • Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, known for his temperamental outbursts, has adopted a unique tactic to avoid tricky questions from reporters — leave a cardboard cutout of himself for reporters to quiz.
  • But the gesture has been criticized by Human Rights Watch which said it shows the military junta chief’s “contempt of media criticism” in a country yet to restore democracy since a 2014 coup.
  • Seventeen life-sized cutouts of Prayuth have been set up around the government compound ahead of Children’s Day on 6 Jan 18. They show Prayuth in various outfits including sportswear, work suits and traditional Thai attire.
  • On 8 Jan 18, Prayuth spoke briefly at Government House before a cutout of Prayuth in a suit and tie was brought out. Prayuth, who is known for his abstruse sense of humor, then told journalists to refer any questions to the cardboard cutout.
  • Prayuth’s government has announced it will hold a general election in Nov 18 after repeatedly delaying the vote.
  • However, it has yet to lift a ban on political campaigning despite pressure from groups of all political stripes.

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