Bangkok governor candidate Chuwit Kamolvisit yesterday punched and kicked a Channel 3 anchorman shortly after a heated televised interview, witnesses say.
The outspoken politician attacked bespectacled newscaster Visal Dilokwanit after being interviewed on a midday news programme about his campaign and policy platform ahead of Sunday's election.
Witnesses said that both men looked upset as they were leaving the studio. Visal turned back to tell Chuwit that posing difficult questions was merely part of his job and that he did not intend to offend him.
Punches, kicks, elbows
It was then, say witnesses, that Chuwit lost his temper, punching Visal in the face, elbowing him in the back of the head and stomping on his leg after he had fallen to the floor.
Questioned later by a Channel 3 executive, Chuwit said Visal was not neutral and had provoked him with questions based on their earlier informal chats, which were supposed to be off the record.
Police reportComplaining of an injured ear and neck, the newsman had a medical check-up and filed a report of physical assault at the Thonglor police station against Chuwit. Bruises were also found on his chin, cheek, ear and leg. Chuwit later said that he became agitated when Visal implied that he was unmanly.
"I am ready to apologise and get fined. But as a media professional, he should have ethics," Chuwit said.
Visal said that Chuwit seemed to be in a bad mood even before the programme began. Once the interview started, he said, the politician often responded with provocative or angry replies.
"The viewers can use their judgement. My duty is to ask questions and extract facts. If he was clever, he would have answered in a way that benefits the voters," said Visal.
The Thai Broadcast Journalists Association and the Thai Journalists Association yesterday issued a joint statement denouncing Chuwit's behaviour as improper for someone offering himself as a candidate for Bangkok governor.
"Chuwit has the right to choose not to answer questions he dislikes. But he has no right to physically harm others, particularly a media person doing his work," said the statement.
Chuwit Kamolvisit told the press that he could not control himself after TV anchorman Visal Dilokwanit described him as "unmanly".
"What Visal did to me was improper, lacking manners and media ethics," he said.
The politician said he was straightforward and would not fake things simply to please the media. "This is me and I won't change."
He admitted that the incident was likely to have a negative impact on his election campaign. "I can't help it," he said but also added that he expected his supporters to vote for him because he refused to fake his behaviour.
In response to Visal's police complaint against him, Chuwit said: "I will pay the fine. It will be Bt500 for using an elbow and another Bt500 for stomping on him. I will pay a tip and to make it Bt2,000 in total."