Sunday, 14 December 2008

The saga of The Economist

[More than little slow to the punch here but...] Last week's edition of The Economist was banned in Thailand after it lead with a story entitled 'Right Royal Mess'.

The article looks at the Thai royal family's role in politics, laying a significant proportion of blame for the country's current malaise with King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The article gives insight into the king's uneasy relationship with ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, the uncertain future of the monarchy beyond Bhumibol's reign, the current 'red vs yellow' political split and media censorship - criticism of the monarchy is forbidden, so the press is effectively self-regulated on the issue.

Despite rumours of an outright ban, The Economist did not circulate the issue "out of consideration" to its local distributor which would have"risked breaching Thai laws" (see article).

The irony writing about press-restrictions, and then being governed by said restrictions is not lost on me. I'd like to think that The Economist did all it could to distribute the issue, out or principle, but the reality looks to be down to money and the negative effects of distributing.

The article is well worth a read and can be done so in full, online here.

Just to clarify, normal service has resumed and the print publication is available again, including a letter from Thailand's Foreign Minister.

However the storm following the article is still raging with a number of newspapers, particularly The Nation, responding to issues raised , with expat bloggers taking these articles to task.

This is Thailand and life goes on the same regardless of The Economist or the valid issues raised.

As they say here mai pen rai (it doesn't matter).

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