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Candidate for governor punches and kicks television anchorman

(SEAPA/IFEX) - According to media reports, on 2 October 2008, a candidate for Bangkok's gubernatorial post punched and kicked a television anchorman after a heated televised interview.

"The Nation" newspaper reported that candidate Chuwit Kamolvisit attacked Channel 3 newscaster Visal Dilokwanit after being interviewed on a midday news programme about his campaign and policy platform ahead of the election scheduled for 5 October.

Witnesses said that both men looked upset as they were leaving the studio. Visal reportedly was explaining to Chuwit that he was merely doing his job and that he did not intend to offend him during the interview when the candidate lost his temper, punching Visal in the face, elbowing him in the back of the head and stomping on his leg after the anchorman had fallen to the floor.

When questioned later by a Channel 3 executive, Chuwit claimed that Visal was not neutral and had provoked him with questions based on earlier informal conversations they had had, which were supposed to be off the record.

Visal went for a medical check-up and filed a physical assault report against Chuwit at the Thonglor police station. He claimed to have sustained neck and ear injuries. 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.

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," Visal said.

The Thai Journalists Association (TJA), a founding member of SEAPA, and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association issued a joint statement on 2 October denouncing Chuwit's behaviour.

"While [Visal's questions] may displease Chuwit, it is considered a normal practice for the media, like in many other civilized nations, to question a person who presents himself to serve the public," the statement read.

"Mr. Chuwit has the right not to reply [to Visal's questions] but has no right to assault others, especially the reporter who is performing his duty."

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