Khaosod reports that the TIME edition featuring The Dictator will not be distributed or sold in Thailand.
As we stated earlier, we felt it was a story that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha will like because it promotes him as a strong leader, now and into the future.
Indeed, “a top government spokesman held up Prayuth’s Time interview as a sign the world was warming to the retired general as he embarked on a tour of European capitals.”
However, there seems to be elements of the story that seem to be a problem. Some in the regime seem to say that the description of The Dictator as a “little Sarit” somehow inappropriate. But that seems an unlikely reason for a ban on the magazine.
That the article says Prayuth was seen talking to a frog has not come up as something causing a ban.
Based on the fear expressed by the magazine’s local distributors, it seems that very brief comments on coronation and the monarchy may be the issue.
One is reported as stating:
We were informed by the distributor from abroad … that it may contain inappropriate content. Some text may need to be censored, meaning we’d have to cover some parts, so we decided it’s better not to sell it.
Exactly which content was considered inappropriate was not disclosed.
Another distributor dded no more information, stating, “Please excuse us for not clarifying.”
Khaosod states that the article “contains one sentence describing King Rama X in general terms. It cannot be reproduced here [in Khaosod] for fear of violating the draconian lese majeste law…”.
In the article, there are references to the monarchy:
The royal family is treated with almost divine reverence in Thailand [PPT: not by all]. Prayuth strengthened ties with the royal household and earned himself the nickname Little Sarit, after Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, who seized power through a putsch in 1957 and helped raise the monarchy to its paramount role in Thai society. Today every [PPT: not all] Thai household displays a portrait of the monarch as the highest picture in the room. And the country boasts some of the world’s strictest royal defamation laws, which are increasingly being used to crush dissent.
Many believe Prayuth’s coup was meant to ensure that Thailand’s elites remained in control during a sensitive time of royal succession. Thailand’s new King, Maha Vajiralongkorn, leads an unconventional lifestyle and does not command the same respect that his father did.
The latter statement has become a media mantra, so hardly seems controversial. Another paragraph includes this:
For more than a decade, Thailand has been wracked with color-coded street protests between the typically rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother Thaksin–who served as Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006–and their mainly urban opponents, backed by the powerful royal palace, military and judiciary. The pro-Yingluck faction wear red. Their opponents wear yellow.
Perhaps the claim of palace support to the yellow shirts is the issue? Whatever the particular statement on the monarchy that has created fear and a ban, it is clear that any commentary on the monarchy that is not laudatory is now more or less banned.