Offbeat | Thai leader pats reporter on head, tugs his ear

Thailand’s military-installed prime minister, known for scolding journalists, is trying a new tack: patting their heads and tugging their ears.
A video posted on Facebook by Bangkok Post reporter Wassana Nanuam shows Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha chatting last week with reporters in the northeastern city of Khon Kaen. Some journalists kneeled in front of him to allow cameras a clear view.
Prayuth patted the baseball cap-clad head of a journalist directly in front of him, then nonchalantly tugged and twisted the man’s ear as he took questions.
Deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Thursday the gesture was good-natured teasing of reporters with whom he has become familiar.
“It came across as cute. He was smiling. They were also smiling,” he said. “It’s not weird for him to be playful with them.”
Wassana’s Facebook comments suggested that while the reporters did not appear to take offense, some Thai people might be put off, since the head is traditionally considered a semi-sacred part of the body that strangers should not touch.

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