Bangkok, Mar 10 (efe-epa).- Thailand’s prime minister Prayut Chan-ocha sprayed what appeared to be hand sanitizer over a group of journalists after taking exception to a question at a press conference.
Footage capturing the bizarre reaction from the prime minister on Tuesday went viral on social media along with a hashtag calling for his resignation.
Over the past year, Prayut, a former general who has been in power since the 2014 military coup, has faced student-led street protests calling for his resignation.
When a reporter asked about a cabinet reshuffle during a presser at the government headquarters on Tuesday, Prayut said: “Isn’t this something that only the prime minister should know first? Shouldn’t even ask.”
He then walked over to the edge of the stage and, holding his mask against his mouth with his hand, sprayed what appeared to be hand sanitizer over reporters.
As a former commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, Prayut led the 2014 military coup to install the junta that governed until 2019.
He retained his position by winning a general election that year.
He is known for his unpredictable behavior.
Prayut caused a stir in 2014 when he touched a journalist’s head, which is considered to be the most sacred part of the body in Thailand.
That same year he threw a banana skin at a cameraman’s head after becoming angry at requests to look at the camera.
The pro-democracy protest movement that erupted last year in Thailand — and has since waned in strength — is calling for the prime minister to step down. Activists also want royal and military powers to be limited.
Several protest leaders and participants, including minors, have been arrested and accused of charges like sedition, punishable with up to seven years in prison, and lèse-majesté, which can lead to three to 15 years in prison.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Thai authorities to drop hefty charges against peaceful protesters. EFE-EPA