Like many politicians, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra does not really like being grilled by reporters. In the past he has angrily refused to talk to the press for some time after difficult questions have been posed. But Thaksin appears to be the first to have brought a buzzer along to a press conference to signal that he doesn’t like a particular question.
On Thursday, Thaksin appeared at a press conference and began taking questions. When one reporter presented a difficult question –why the prime minister had failed to seek parliamentary consent for an emergency decree issued for the southern provinces — Thaksin raised a handheld device that buzzed and showed a large “X” on a display.
“Not constructive!” he announced.
A follow-up question asked whether foreign terrorists might be linked to the rebellion that was the reason for the decree.
The device has at least two functions — when another reporter asked Thaksin about a government program to lower oil prices, the device “emitted a pleasant tone and displayed an ‘O,’ signaling his approval.”
Thaksin eventually said he was joking. He said his son had brought the thing back from Japan as a gift, and he had “borrowed it to use with the media to make the atmosphere more relaxing.” But the media did not get all that relaxed. The editor of one paper said he thought it was “a little overboard” for a prime minister to act in such a way because reporters have the right to ask any questions that concern the public interest.
The article did not state whether Thaksin had ever answered the questions that he buzzed, or whether Thaksin intended to keep using the device in the future.