Earlier this week, a group of Thai royalist gathered outside the British embassy in the Kingdom of Thailand to protest against the BBC. They demand that Thailand expel the BBC’s correspondent based in Thailand, Jonathan Head, following a recent report relating to the late King Bhumibol.
As reported by Khaosod and the International Monarchist Conference, Mr Head allegedly made defamatory comments about Thailand following the King’s death.
In an interview with royal descendant Narisa Chakrabongse, Mr Head said: “We see this really emotional connection between him and ordinary people – genuine personal affection, there is that kind of bond. Yet in a country where royalist propaganda is so prevalent, and you have so many restrictions on what you can say about the royal family, people outside are bound to ask: Is it genuine, this love?”
The royalist group Young Thai Blood believes it is inappropriate to question the Thai people’s love and loyalty to their Royal Family and now wish for the British reporter to be expelled from Thailand. They have sent their claim both to Thai and British governments and urged the British government to expel the reporter from Thailand.
The statement from the royalists reads: “(Head) has shown no respect, courtesy nor consciousness toward our culture at any stages by questioning the love to our late King Rama IX throughout his public broadcast. Giving to his action, he has proven to be a bias and unprofessional, field reporter who lacks in conduct or ethics.”
Jonathan Head is the South East Asia Correspondent for BBC News. He was formerly the BBC Indonesia Correspondent, South East Asia Correspondent, Tokyo Correspondent and Turkey Correspondent, and has almost 30 years experience as a reporter. He became BBC South East Asia Correspondent in August 2012 and reports extensively from Thailand.
Mr Head has declined to make a comment.
The laws of lèse majesté in Thailand makes it illegal to defame, insult, or threaten the King, Queen, heir-apparent, or regent. The law has been on the statute books since 1908. The punishment ranges from three to fifteen years of imprisonment per count and has been described as the “world’s harshest lèse majesté law.”