“General - Prime Minister” of the Kingdom of Thailand since 20 May 2014
Predator since taking office
Thailand, 137th/180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index
PREDATORY METHOD: Using “lèse-majesté” charges against critics
Since carrying out a coup d’état and taking over as prime minister in 2014 with the support of the armed forces and monarchy, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha has developed an extremely thorough system of information control. From the very first months of his rule, he imposed a relentless regime of terror on all those voicing criticism, who were branded as government opponents. Before his first year as prime minister was over, more than 20 journalists and bloggers had fled abroad to avoid spending years in prison.
Prayut has a tailor-made weapon for cracking down on independent media – a lèse-majesté law that is the most draconian in the world, one that does not just penalise insulting the sovereign. Thanks to the possibility of combined sentences, any ill-considered comment about the monarchy can send someone to prison for up to 60 years. After seizing power, Prayut extended the law’s applicability to “national security,” which is tried by military court. The law no longer concerns just criticism of Thailand’s absolute monarchy but also comments about the armed forces, the government... or even the king’s dog.
FAVOURITE TARGETS: All opposition
OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: Contempt
During a press conference on 9 March 2021, Prayut Cha-o-cha sprayed journalists with hand sanitiser to make them stop asking questions.
"If you want t ask any question on politics, ask this guy", he said during a press conference on 9 January 2019, pointing to a full-sized photo of himself.
“We’ll probably just execute them,” he said at a news conference in March 2015, when asked what will happen to journalists who fail to toe the line.