In latest outburst, Thailand's Prayuth reminds reporters of his powers

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-Ocha reminded local reporters that he has the power to shut down media outlets and even execute people - though he pointed out he hasn't done so yet.

The reporters were asking Prayuth on Thursday whether former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be allowed to travel abroad while she waits to hear if a court will accept criminal charges filed against her. The reporters pointed out that ultimately the decision would be his alone as he has broad power under the junta-drafted interim constitution.

"Should I use all power in all the articles?" Prayuth asked. "Closing all the media? I have that much power. I can even arrest people to be executed. But I haven't done anything like that."

Prayuth, who as army chief toppled Yingluck's elected government in a coup last May, has become famous for his angry outbursts, off-the-cuff remarks and sometimes unconventional actions.

He's previously made headlines for comments suggesting foreign tourists wearing bikinis risked their own safety, throwing a banana peel at a journalist, and petting the head and rubbing the ear of a reporter during a group interview.

Prayuth's comments are often seen by his supporters as sarcastic or even playful, while critics say they are disrespectful and unbecoming of a leader.

Thailand remains under martial law, which the junta has used to temporarily detain hundreds of politicians, activists, academics, journalists and others it believes need what it terms an "attitude adjustment."