Thailand hits headlines in censorship row

Thailand has made headlines once again for censoring an article that appeared on the cover of Tuesday's International New York Times.

Thailand is now considered one of the countries with least press freedom

Thailand is now considered one of the countries with least press freedom Image by Harleen / CC BY 2.0

Entitled "Thai spirits sagging with the economy," the article was removed from the Thai edition of the paper by the printer itself who deemed the material inappropriate and too "sensitive." The Eastern Printing Co released a statement in which it said that it had not published the front cover story because its content was "inappropriate" but gave no further explanation. The printer left a blank in the front cover and did the same on page six where the rest of the story had been continued. The blank space had the statement “The article in this space was removed by our printer in Thailand. The International New York Times and its editorial staff had no role in its removal” printed above it.

Thailand in censorship row.

Thailand in censorship row. Image by Paul Arps / CC BY 2.0

The article's content gave a somewhat gloomy account of the failing Thai economy and described an air of pessimism among normal Thais after years of political turmoil and repressive government. The article touched on the failing health and upcoming troubling succession of the 78 year-old Thai King, Rama IX. In Thailand, speaking ill of the monarchy is punishable by three to 15 years in jail, so printers are known to omit negative commentary by dropping content lest they be held responsible.

The International New York Times responded by saying that they preferred their content not to be modified, after having announced earlier this year that they would be pulling out of the Thai market due to the increased operating costs.

It is the second time in less than three months that the newspaper has been censored. On 22 September an article that spoke about the future of the Thai monarchy was censored also, as the printer described the material as "too sensitive to print."

There has been a recent increase in state censorship in Thailand, with the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders producing a 41 page report which stated that  Thailand “is now seen as one of the region’s most authoritarian regimes as regards journalists and freedom of information.”

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