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Thailand’s Leader Uses Cardboard Stand-In to Avoid Journalists’ Questions

Written by Thai News

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand before leaving journalists with a cardboard cutout of his image at a microphone on Monday in Bangkok.

Daily News, via Reuters

BANGKOK — Thailand’s prime minister evaded journalists’ questions on Monday by turning to a life-size cardboard cutout of him and telling the reporters to quiz it instead.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha then turned on his heel and walked off, leaving the cutout behind, to bemused looks and awkward laughter from the journalists.

The prime minister had briefly spoken to the news media after attending an event promoting the coming Children’s Day, but he deployed his dodging tactic before anyone could ask him about a number of pressing political issues.

“If you want to ask any questions on politics or conflict,” Mr. Payuth said, “ask this guy.”

It was not the first time that Mr. Prayuth — a general who seized power in a bloodless coup in 2014 — had dumbfounded the news media. In the past he has fondled the ear of a sound technician for several minutes during an impromptu news conference, flung a banana peel at cameramen and threatened, with gruff humor, to execute any journalist who criticized his government.

When it took power, his government, packed with members of the military, enjoyed considerable public support for having ended a prolonged period of often-violent street politics. But as the junta’s rule has stretched on, criticism of its often repressive policies and lack of transparency has grown markedly.

Mr. Prayuth has promised elections in November, though he has made similar promises several times previously and then delayed the balloting.

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