International NY Times blocked in Thailand over article on ailing king
The local printer of the International New York Times decided not to publish Tuesday’s edition in Thailand because of an article on the future of the Thai monarchy that it called “too sensitive to print” in the country where strict laws limit open discussion of the royal family, AP reports.
The article, headlined “As Thai king ails, crown’s future unclear,” discussed the declining health of 87-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej and concerns about the monarchy’s succession. It was published on the front page of the paper’s Asia editions.
“Today’s edition of the International New York Times was not printed in Thailand because it includes an article that our locally contracted printer deemed too sensitive too print,” the newspaper said.
“This decision was made solely by the printer and is not endorsed by the International New York Times,” it added, referring readers to its website where the Asia edition could be accessed online, as well as its smartphone and tablet apps.
Discussion of the monarchy is an extremely sensitive subject in Thailand, where strict lese majeste laws make criticism of the royal family punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The Thai authorities have blocked a number of other news websites, including the UK-based Daily Mail, after one article last year gave details about Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s private life.
Over the past year, there has been a significant increase in lese majeste convictions, which rights groups say is part of a wider crackdown on critics and dissent since the military seized power from a civilian government in May 2014.
As the New York Times details in its article, Thais have been jailed for an overheard conversation in a taxi, a hand gesture, a university play, bathroom graffiti and most recently, two sentences of 28 and 30 years for Facebook posts.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha too does not like media criticism on his performance.
Last weekend, senior reporter with Nation Pravit Rojanaphruk was detained at a secret military base outside Bangkok and interrogated over his alleged links to anti-military conspiracies.