A reporter who angered Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha by crossing her legs has been banned from entering the Government House due to her “fake reporting,” a government spokesperson said last night, while the national journalists organization condemned her “lack of respect.”
After the female reporter, who works for a Japanese news agency, drew a strong rebuke from Prayuth over the way she sat, spokesperson Natreeya Taweewong said she was barred from future press briefings for spreading misinformation about how top officials treat reporters.
“I verbally requested the news agency train her on publishing [incorrect information],” Natreeya said. “And I asked them to suspend her from reporting inside the Government House until her behavior improves.”
Though Natreeya did not elaborate on the nature of that misinformation was, a tweet from the Twitter account of Kamonthip Aungsakularporn, a reporter for Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun, identified herself as the one Prayuth upbraided. Prior to that incident, she had tweeted that she was made to wait in front of the administration building like “a dog” for senior officials.
“I felt like I’m a dog at 7-Eleven that sits in the door for cool air from the AC waiting for ministers coming out from their [offices] to interview them,” she tweeted. Her account has since been made private.
Banyong Suwanpong of Thai Journalists Association’s ethics body criticized the reporter for showing a “lack of respect toward her seniors” by crossing her legs.
“Good Thai tradition never changes and its value of respecting seniors remains,” Banyong said. “This applies to reporters, who should show respect to the place and sources through what they wear and how they act.”
After denying that the woman’s posture was the reason she was now barred from the building, the spokesperson said that her crossed legs were not a “normal” sitting pose, as one leg was higher up and her foot pointed toward the prime minister’s podium while he was talking.
Prayuth Chan-o-cha on Tuesday interrupted his own news conference to challenge the reporter to uncross her legs, which traditionalists see as a sign of disrespect toward one’s superiors.
“Can you not put your leg down?! You’re crossing your legs like that before me. Can you? Your leg, your foot. Eh?” Prayuth said into the microphone, footage of which drew renewed criticism of the prime minister’s leadership and maturity, especially after he had just made headlines around the world for spraying reporters with disinfectant.